Links and articles about the game industry: how to get game jobs, how to manage your role, etc.
How to Get In
- Motivation is Bull Polycount Forum thread.
- I'm finding it impossible to land a job Polycount Forum thread.
- Game Industry Recruiter Taking In Questions Polycount Forum thread.
- Getting that first job Polycount Forum thread. Good advice for an artist trying to enter a game studio.
- Getting into the Game Industry (Inspiration of a different kind) - Polycount Forum thread. Amazing thread full of information from working game artists about how they got into the industry.
- How to Break Into the Industry - by Destin Bales A treasure trove of great advice by a veteran game developer. Multiple topics covered: understanding the industry, education, resumes and portfolios, finding jobs, interview prep, career development, etc.
- Why is it hard to find a job in game industry? Discussion on LinkedIn about what it takes to get that first game industry job.
- Game Industry Advice to students - by Athey Moravetz A great article by a 5-year veteran game artist about what it takes to get into a game artist job. Very straightforward and accurate.
Being a Developer
- Job Security Question Polycount Forum thread.
- What has the games industry been like for you? Polycount Forum thread. Game art veterans share what it's really like to be working in game development.
- Is the games industry really dying? by Dan Teasdale, diving deep into game industry layoff data.
- Valve Employee Hand Book Greg Coomer says "We wrote this book to make it as easy as we could for new people to join the company. It was fun to capture these thoughts and put them all in one place. Let us know what you think." Cached: File:Valve Employee Handbook.pdf
- The Belly of the Whale: Living a Creative Life in the Game Industry - by Bob Bates GDC 2010 lecture about how creative types can survive and thrive in the game industry. Highly recommended by many Polycounters.
- How NOT to hire an artist - by Jon Jones Response to the inflammatory article How to hire an artist by Christopher 'xdragonx10' Gregorio.
- The Co-worker - by Adam Bromell Polycount News article about what makes a good team co-worker.
- Category:Discipline lists the various artist roles in game development.
- Specializing or not ? Polycount forum thread
- Leadership in the Games Industry Polycount forum thread
- What Game artist career is more difficult? Polycount forum thread
- PortfolioContents has summaries for what each type of artist should show in their portfolio.
The basic argument in the Polycount community is between going the self-taught route or going the formal education route. The best path seems to depend on what kind of person you are: self-motivated or team-motivated.
Artists on Polycount generally agree it is rare to find schools that teach current high-quality game art techniques. The web and forums are often the best places to learn these, maybe even our wiki |-) . We see it time and again... the students who succeed at entering the work force after graduation are almost exclusively those that work on their own side projects, beyond the course material. Would they have been better served without using a school?
If you want to work in a different country, the visa process may require a college or university degree. This is a good reason to seek a degree program.
Beware of education scams and debt! Schools can cost a lot of money and some promise easy employment afterwards, but unfortunately the reality is not so forgiving. Student loan debt can also be a crushing burden for many years, especially with the relatively low wages most game artists make.
- The Death of Curiosity Polycount forum thread, about the optimal mindset for learning and succeeding in this industry.
- letter to a student Polycount forum thread
- Don’t go to art school blog post
- Profit Schools - Can we condemn them publicly? Polycount forum thread
- "On Game Schools" Penny Arcade episode
- The Creative Student’s Handbook – Schools! - by Henning Sanden A primer on how to choose the right school for your career goals, and red flags to look out for when considering schools.
- Education In The Games Industry: Yes or No? on the Polycount Forum is a great list of threads about game art education. You can also do a forum search for education.
- 100 Things Every Game Student Should Know - by Kaye Elling 100 fugly slides of things that every budding game developer (who is studying at university) should know. Read it!
- Portfolio has links to tutorials and advice about creating an artist portfolio for a career in game development.
- Work at Bungie: Getting Past the Gatekeeper details how to make the best impression on Bungie's hiring manager.
- LinkedIn Profile Tips: The 10 Mistakes You Want to Avoid and Why - by Neal Schaffer
- Getting Your Résumé Read - by Joel 'joelonsoftware' Spolsky
- Sorting Resumes - by Joel 'joelonsoftware' Spolsky
- Writing that all important cover letter? Polycount Forum thread
- Cover Letter Polycount Forum thread
- Resume / Cover Letter Critique request - Riot Games Polycount Forum thread
- Work at Bungie: Getting Past the Gatekeeper details how to make the best impression on Bungie's hiring manager.
Most game developers get their jobs by word of mouth, this industry puts personal contacts first and foremost. Networking is key; keep in contact with your friends and former co-workers.
- Company job boards - Polycount Wiki page.
- polycount.com/categories/work-opportunities - Polycount Forum section.
- Another website to find a video game industry job - Polycount Forum thread.
- Industry tips: How to find a job in the game industry - by Christopher Natsuume has some frank advice about job searching.
- joelonsoftware.com The Phone Screen - by Joel 'joelonsoftware' Spolsky has info about how companies weed out applicants.
- It seems to be impossible to find a job as a Modeler in this industry - this Polycount forum thread has good advice about how to actually get hired as an artist in game development.
- gamedevmap - map of game development companies.
Going to Conferences
Attending a game conference or developer event is a great way to connect with people working in game development. Connections often lead to work opportunities!
A few notable conferences:
- Game Developer's Conference (GDC), GDC Europe, GDC China.
- PAX Prime, PAX East, PAX South, PAX Aus.
- Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).
- Gameconfs - a directory of game industry events.
|Advice from seasoned Indie Ichiro Lambe about how he goes to GDC:|
|1. Get connected beforehand. We always pulled together lists of devs who were going, to connect folks. For instance, we had a Google Form where everyone put down their names, games, companies, interests, Twitter handles, etc., and that all got spat out into a publicly viewable spreadsheet. We then tweeted that form/spreadsheet to everyone, and got a bazillion responses. We'd then reach out to subsets of those people and say, "Hey, we have common interests. Let's all meet." Instant GDC community.|
|2. Stay connected during. We also did a GDC Google Hangout or Facebook group for mobile users once out there. That allowed, for example, a friend to text a hundred devs with, "Hey, I'm completely drunk at Pinecrest. Who wants to meet?" Or, we'd Katamari a bunch of devs and go to a bar and chat dev. Katamaris work great -- meet one dev, and ask them to invite two friends. And so forth.|
|3. Set up meetings. Are there folks you want to meet out there? E-mail them and see what they're up to. Schedule lunch or coffee with a group of mobile game designers. Have them invite colleagues. Rinse. Repeat. Figure out why you're interesting and unique, and approach people with that. Don't be shy about it.|
|4. Plan. Write out your GDC plan beforehand. You can deviate from this entirely, but it's useful because it shows where there are scheduling gaps. It also forces you to identify your goals and objectives. I go to GDC primarily to connect myself and other devs with platform holders. Ergo, I'll want to set up meetings with Colecovision and Vectrex, and have pitches ready for them. Your goals may differ, but your plan should derive from those goals.|
|5. Get a pass. Go write each of the IGF finalists, tell them how amazing you are and how you're not an asshole, and ask them if they need help manning their booths in exchange for an expo pass.|
|6. Avoid the big, loud parties. 300 game developers at a loud dance club is silly. It's fun to go to these things and get free booze and food, but it's often more profitable to meet with Intellivision over quiet drinks, and more creatively stimulating to meet with a group of other developers in a quiet hotel lobby.|
- Job Interview in a hour or so, what questions should I expect? thread on the Polycount forum.
- When eyeballing a studio... thread on the Polycount forum (what questions should you ask during your interview).
- Interview Advice thread on the Polycount forum.
- In need of interview advice thread on the Polycount forum.
- 10 Tips for Your First Interview - by Dave Sanford Time-tested interview strategies:
- Get there early
- Know thyself
- Follow up
- Four Steps to a Better Job Interview - by Brad Karsh Four simple things to improve your interviews.
- Relax, not a battle of wits.
- Job description = questions that you'll be asked.
- Have answers about why you did certain things.
- Have questions about them.
- Ten Tips for the Interview Follow Up - by Carole Martin How to avoid a non-response after your interview.
- job interview, 2-3 hours, why so long? Polycount forum thread Game developers talking about the interview process they do, or have been through.
Game companies often ask their art applicants to complete an art test, to gauge their talent relative to that company's particular needs, and to make sure you can actually do the work (portfolios can be faked or stolen).
Beware doing an unpaid art test. A company can ask you to spend a long time on it, but then plagiarize the results, never respond after submission, etc.
- Art Test Master List GameArtisans forum thread has some example art tests.
- Paid Art Test? Polycount Forum thread
- Art Tests Polycount Forum thread
- Jagex Art Test Polycount Forum thread
- "Large art tests as the first stage of candidate selection. Acceptable?" LinkedIn discussion
- Environment Art Test advice? Polycount Forum thread
- Art test and no response, normal? Polycount Forum thread
- Is it bad to ask for tips on an art test? There isn't an NDA Polycount Forum thread
- Art tests Polycount Forum thread
- Art Tests : How much time to spend? Polycount Forum thread
- Art Test Help/Suggestions Polycount Forum thread
Do the research to figure out what a fair offer is for your skill level and geographic area.
- CG Spectrum: Potential wages
- H1-B Visa Salary Database
- Game Industry Salary Explorer - from Orca HQ. See the Polycount Forum thread Game Industry Salary Explorer.
- 2012 Game Industry Salary Survey - from Game Developer magazine (mostly USA). See also 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006.
- Senior Artist Salaries at Computer Software companies in United States - from Glassdoor.com (USA) Customize your search, and enter your salary data for full access.
- 3D Artist Salaries in the United States - from Payscale.com (other countries available)
- The Foreign Labor Certification Data Center - Online Wage Library (H1B Visa Applications) - from the US Department of Labor (USA)
- Wages In The VFX, Animation, And Games Industry - by 'VFX Soldier' features a spreadsheet of wage data mined from the H1B Visa database.
- 2012 UK Games Industry Salary Survey. See also 2009 (UK)
- VFXWages - a global database of hourly monetary rates of people in the film and television visual effects, animation, motion graphics, and gaming industry.
Salary negotiation is an essential skill that will be put to the test after a successful interview.
- Getting a raise comes down to one thing: Leverage. - by Quincy Larson
- Salary of a game programmer (artist, designer, or producer) - by Christer Ericcson, Sony Computer Entertainment
- Industry tips: How to not ask for money - by Christopher Natsuume
- Know Your Rights - The Myth of Pay Privacy - by KC Labor (USA)
- Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People ($) - by G. Richard Shell
- Negotiating a salary on the Polycount Forums
- The game industry and relocation, how bad is it? - Polycount Forum thread. Insight into the relocation process.
- contract( ) (pronounced 'do contract') generates free, plain English agreements for and between game developers. See the article Taking the fear out of contracts on gamesindustry.biz.
- Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines is an excellent resource on a great range of employment issues. Pricing guidelines, legal info, copyright law, sample contracts, how to negotiate, and more. Highly recommended!
- National Labor Relations Board (USA)
- ACAS: Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (UK)
- Directgov Employment Terms and Conditions (UK)
- Know Your Rights - by KC Labor (USA)
- Discussing issues at work, grounds for firing? Polycount forum thread has information about workers discussing their compensation with one another.
- EA rumored to layoff 500+ Polycount forum thread with cautionary tales about what happens when people get laid off or fired, or when companies close. Back up your work regularly, for portfolio use!
Indie means developing, marketing, and publishing a game independently.
- How to Start an Indie Game Business (WIP) TIGSource Forum thread with links to resources
Freelancing means creating assets for pay, working alone as an individual. See Freelance.