Game Industry

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Links and articles about the game industry: how to get game jobs, how to manage your role, etc.

How to Get In

Being a Developer

Art Disciplines

Education

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.

Portfolios

  • Portfolio has links to tutorials and advice about creating an artist portfolio for a career in game development.

Resumes

Cover Letters

Job Searching

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.

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:


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.

Interviews

Art Tests

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.

Salary Research

Do the research to figure out what a fair offer is for your skill level and geographic area.

Negotiation

Salary negotiation is an essential skill that will be put to the test after a successful interview.

Relocation

Employee Rights

Going Indie

Indie means developing, marketing, and publishing a game independently.

Freelancing

Freelancing means creating assets for pay, working alone as an individual. See Freelance.



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