How to get into the Gaming Industry?
An Ideal Guide
Securing a job opportunity in the gaming industry is no easy task…
Primarily due to the fact that the industry has grown to an enormous magnitude.
More and more people are taking up an interest in Gaming Business for career prospects.
Key Facts and Introduction
Securing an Opportunity
Key Impressions of Working
Key Facts and Introduction
Arguably, the gaming industry is home to some of the best gaming experts who are known for their trade and remain a pivotal reason behind the development and success of gaming franchises today.
The industry is populated by millions and continues to grow saturated, but this is a general fact about almost every business industry in the world and it surely does not discourage anyone to take a step towards a gaming career.
Interestingly, the gaming industry pours in billions of dollars a year and it is bigger than Hollywood. Gamers around the world continue to surge in numbers and as a matter of fact, there are more than 2.34 billion gamers present in the world. The industry has come a long way in establishing itself as a money minting and profitable industry within the entertainment spectrum, and which continues to pique the interests of millions of people both on the business and consumer ends.
The three prominent names in the gaming industry – Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo – have played a vital role in handing out this industry a breakthrough in the last couple of decades. These companies are always on the lookout for enhancements and technological developments in the industry. Today’s gamers enjoy highly technical equipment with intense gaming environments put together by top-tier tech gear.
Every year, there are some of the biggest releases of game titles in HD and 3D versions, and even motion sensors. The audio, visuals and gameplay experience is totally nothing like ever seen before. Work certainly does not end as soon as a game lands into a market because the biggest game developing studios put their focus in the next installment of the game, which is to be released next year. So, one can so that the industry is quite future-forward and this is exactly where the need for fresh talent and experienced professionals is needed.
In relation to this, there is an influx in the demand for professionals related to the field; from visual artists, programmers, level designers, audio engineers, directors, etc. The whole sector has a vast array of exciting jobs that could suit the interests of almost anyone. Before the massive technological breakthrough in the recent decade, the gaming industry in the days of Atari, Commodore, and Pong was relatively small and only populated by programmers. These programmers turned into game developers as they kept familiarizing themselves with development in computing technology. Mainframe programming was the top trend in those times and most of the qualified professionals were previously hobbyists and gaming enthusiasts, so their own interests remained a prominent characteristic laying a foundation of the industry in the early days.
As time progressed and more technological developments took over, the era of game designers, artists, quality assurance personnel and other professions took birth. They all combined together to form a prosperous career prospect of the industry, drawing the attraction of millions around. Today the era is championed by the likes of Assassin’s Creed, FIFA, Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, Resident Evil, etc. The industry is set to be worth more than $300 billion by the year 2025.
Practical Ways of Securing an Opportunity
Every job seeker must understand the dynamics of the modern-day gaming industry.
Just like in any business sector, the gaming industry is also prone to external influences.
In this chapter, we will see how can you find and secure a good job offer in the Gaming Industry.
Opt for Market Research
Before sending in your resume at any studio, do an extensive amount of market research regarding the industry as well as the options of workplaces listed in your mind.
A common feature that you will always find is that some of the notable employees working at studios have a real passion for games.
Understand that while this is not a formal requirement, it goes a long way in allowing an individual to make a stunning career in the industry. As a matter of fact, recruiters are also questioning during recruitment processes regarding their personal gaming experience and they see it likely to affect their professional position.
Many would find themselves clueless at that point, and it would be a red flag right there. So, while you research the industry, know it full and well that a passion for games can secure your chances of landing a job tremendously.
One is supposed to step beyond the mainstream spectrum and enter the chamber of true gamers who have all the know-how of some really interesting games prevailing in the market.
You will not only require to play but understand what makes them unique, the innovative factors attributed to their playing experience, and their limitations.
Build a Strong Portfolio
More than your resume, your portfolio will carry an importance. It is the single piece of advice considered to be truly important which individuals who aspire to make a career in the industry need to know. It is true that passion alone is not the ingredient or the pivotal point which would allow you to land a job. Luck will not work enough in favor of you, and you will always need to hustle by yourself.
Millions of people share the common interest of becoming a part of the gaming empire.
You are one of the millions of people, and in this regard, you will need to be unique and stand out in the crowd.
Your portfolio and a mighty one will help you reach a level you aspire to be. One can definitely start with developing mini-games and incorporate modern details to make them engaging. It is about investing in your projects to make them appear remarkable, and would also be considered as a presentation of your professional acumen.
You can also develop flash games, concept art, mods for popular franchises, and whatnot. It is important to know that one has to start small in the beginning and have realistic expectations regarding their work.
No work is appreciated if it is totally out of the blue and does not mean the standard practices. Innovation can be appreciated but a failed concept and a missing balance in a game cannot be called innovation at all.
In addition, understand monetization and this is especially important for game developers. Develop prototypes and mini-games where you incorporate options for purchases.
Game studios, no matter what record sells they maintain each term are always looking to secure revenue streams and if you propose an idea that you understand the importance of revenue, you will be considered an ideal candidate under normal circumstances.
Seek Professional Qualification
You do not necessarily need to have a college degree in order to get hired at a top gaming studio.
As a matter of fact, your attribution to prestigious schools makes no difference at all as no institution can ever prepare you for the practical work and environment that prevails in the gaming world.
Recruiters generally do not prioritize any titles and lucrative names attached to your credentials. However, if you are serious about working and bagging success in the industry, you will need to seek professional qualifications in certain respects. You might be familiar with some professional software and tools used, and you may have some sort of experience.
But you will need to identify whether your knowledge and experience stand enough for the churn and burn in a gaming studio. This is exactly why you will need to opt for full-fledged qualifications in a field of your choice, for example, 3D modeling, illustration, development, programming, etc.
It will not only expand your career prospects but allow you to perform better on your job. Some of the technical platforms to master include C++, Java, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Premier, 3DS Max, etc.
These are quite useful in seeking qualification. Browse courses and get acquainted with credible sources offering them.
Build your Network
Arguably a piece of advice that you will find everywhere and so its importance grows. Any job seeker would need to build their connects and the right ones. Gamers and tech geeks tend to be a close-knit breed and they can be found all together. Even on social media, there are great opportunities to connect with them on public and closed groups. If you want to approach and get acquainted with someone industry in person then attend exhibitions, events, and fares that happen all around the world. Such events are a great opportunity to run into important people and you might not find it true, they are the most humble when it comes to public interaction and are more than willing to have a conversation with you. It majorly depends on you regarding how you approach these people and what sort of impression you leave on them. Everyone can be a fanboy and a really passionate gamer but there might be only a few who are genuine and can appeal to people of this industry. Have your attire in check, develop a great demeanor, and learn the art of conversation, so you leave a good impression on them.
Start from the Bottom
It goes without saying but in the gaming industry, you will always need to start from the beginning. No amount of prior job experience can ever prepare you for it if you are landing your first job. Learn the old fashioned ways of programming languages and developing games using it. Do not be afraid to work on the basics and it is most certainly suggested that you aspire to create a strong foundation. Any entry-level position would demand a set of fundamental skills and only if you are good at them that you can step further towards career progression in the industry. Start out on the practical side of things and focus on how you can incorporate your own input. While you are learning your trade and mastering your craft, identify what you are really good at and build yourself on those terms.
Start with QA Jobs
An important piece of advice would be looking to start a career in the testing department. For teenagers, testing out games for money is certainly a job of dreams. Testing is surely a prosperous path but it is only treated as a stepping stone for bigger industry prospects. Game business hiring also starts with QA. QA remains a good start in order to enter the billion-dollar sub-sectors of development, publishing, and game designing. QA is a type of formal training and you get to learn a great deal about games, so if you have such experience on your resume, you will be in a good position for jobs. To acquire a job in the testing department, one does not certainly require prior experience or a certified degree relevant to it. However, progress will only take place if you seek mastery level in other respective fields of gaming.
Look for Developer Level Positions
Game development positions are simply the ideal positions out there. However, hiring in game development studios is tricky to acquire and should always be the ultimate goal for developers. It can take a lot of interviews and tests before one gets hired on the job. For programmers, they will need to be strong on the part of game titles they have experience working on, college projects, experience in a collaborative programming atmosphere, and the ability to fully write code. For artists, the focus should lie on developing your portfolio. A candidate also needs to have full command on tools and software that they utilize. They should have the ability to take direction and understand the objective. In addition, they should not shy away from criticism and have an open mind for constructive criticism. Level designers need to have experience regarding designing game levels. They should also be able to answer a few questions regarding decisions that they have made in terms of design. They should also know why they have done what they have done and been answerable to every course of action that they have taken in level design.
Get Some Experience in Independent Development
Among video game companies hiring people, there is a recent trend of independent development and it has given birth to pathways for candidates looking to start careers in the lucrative gaming industry. However, being an independent developer is certainly not easy and not necessarily for everyone. To begin with, independent work requires a tremendous level of time, effort, resources, and motivation to build yourself in a market so competitive. Most people branch out of this because they succumb to inevitable failure that they experience in the early phases.
Apply for Internships
For those with absolutely no working experience, an internship is a great opportunity to get started in the industry. You may have the talent, skill, and resources but a few weeks on the actual job will actually create beyond a difference. One needs to have basic skills for internships at game developing studios and they can set one for a good direction of a career. Many video game companies hiring tend to post openings in job forums and papers, and one should always go for the next opportunity. It is a chance to make an impression and convince your superiors that you are a good prospect to work in a respective position. Once your internship is over, you may be offered a job role and this would be a game-changer.
Relocate to Regions Where Game Industry is Large
If you truly have an immense passion for a gaming industry career, then you want to see if you can relocate to a city where the gaming industry is big in magnitude.
The USA is an ideal example and home to some of the biggest game developing studios.
It might be difficult for you to leave everything behind you and move into a stranger’s land, but it will be definitely worth it once you settle in and all of your sacrifices will eventually pay off.
Be Smart about Jobs
Do not be simply about the tools and software that you use to make your work great. Be flexible and learn to work with as many options out there.
Do not restrict yourself with a certain style and always expand your horizons. Not only take time to polish your skills but also expand them.
Follow your passion and forget about specializing in a certain category right when you start.
Once you land an opportunity, be sure to try out and get exposure to everything that happens in a gaming studio.
Learn, learn, and learn from your surroundings most importantly.
Do not be hung and tied to just what is given to you.
Tap potential wherever you find and do not restrict yourself to a certain category. Be a team player and always be around great people. You may not realize but your peers will have a constant influence on you and can impact your work abilities. So, always surround yourself with those who have great ambitions and are there to bag some success. Character is a contagious entity and always choose people of the highest character. Be yourself and just not try to be anything that you are not.
Key Impressions of Working in the Gaming Industry
A concrete idea of the work culture, environment, and job responsibilities preps up an individual better and gives some sort of a head start before deciding to apply for a position.
One can aspire to land a job in any category they like, but getting an idea of the working conditions in the industry is vitally important no matter what field you are interested in.
The “Unique” Factor about the Gaming Industry
One of the biggest factors that allow the gaming industry to stand out in the world is the media attention. Since the number of gamers and the audience is in billions, the media sector gives special attention to activities and trends emerging in the industry. There has also been a secondary form of ventures and setups related to the gaming industry which also garner media attention, such as eSports, public forums, online blogs, TV shows, entertainment channels, etc. The consumer, the real audience of the games also have a massive influence. As a demographic, gamers are classified as detail based and more technical. Gamers have always shown great passion for particular niches. Every gamer invests hundreds of hours playing games, on average. They are always in close proximity with a product in terms of their passion that most game developing studios build games around the players.
Culture of the Gaming Industry
No surprise, the culture of this mega industry remains a significant thing. It remains a prominent feature of every discussion. Most professionals in the industry have reported strongly positive reviews about their work experience in the gaming industry. Those working at some of the biggest platforms like Blizzard and Riot share this notion of positivity among them and rarely has one ever reported a bad experience. Some game developing studios lay great emphasis on the culture. Let us take the example of Riot, the company has a policy of hiring professionals who tend to have a great passion for gamers and are also hardcore gamers. In fact, some aspiring candidates give extra time to playing games, just so they could have a general idea about games and can be considered as someone who has had playing experience. In such working environments, the workers always bond over each other’s stories and anecdotes. One individual’s failure to clear a certain level of a game to another individual’s winning streak remains a big part of everyday discussions taking place among groups and teams in studios. This is also seen as a good opportunity to interact and make friends in workplaces. Many individuals who have worked in companies operating in different sectors have reported totally different experiences. Workers always tell that at other companies, the major topic of discussion would be the trending subjects and stories developing in politics, popular culture, social media, etc. However, at game studios, the stories would be absolutely different. It is not suggested that people working in these setups would be totally out of touch from reality and they would choose to remain indifferent about stories happening all around them. It’s just that every professional happens to carry a great deal of passion for games, and outside the office, they spend a great number of hours playing their favorite games, so it revolves around their discussions to a great deal. They are genuine geeks of technology and games, and they feel less isolated when people around them are talking about subjects lying on their own scale of preferences. In general, one can agree with the fact that being surrounded by people who store the same sort of interests as you are comfortable. People working in the industry have shared passions. It also remains a significant factor that motivates one to work more and better. They have mutual goals and shared ambitions, and are always willing to take a step ahead in making it work for themselves. There is a unified vision shared by people working at a particular studio, and they all feel in their own capacity to make a larger difference by taking their individual steps.
Every designer and developer has the freedom to participate in the making of a game. All ideas are encouraged and this is a culture observed in the most successful game development studios. Ownership of one’s work remains a great point of content even after the release of the product into the market. There is a great capacity for creative freedom. Ideas are shared without much scrutiny and hence, designers find more passion in themselves. The gaming industry is an empire and it goes beyond the parameters of a single workplace. In the industry, professionals also have interactions with outsiders and those on the policy and regulatory boards. There are all kinds of personalities and people from all walks of life. They happen to have a heap of creative potential, and most of them generally have great ideas to put across. They are well respected among their peers and for newcomers, they bring a chance and opportunities to learn and enter new perspectives. Designers find a real opportunity to interact and draw inspiration from brilliant minds around them. They naturally indulge in such an environment and find it as a sort of amusement to work in the industry.
Process of Work in Studios
Not all game developing studios apply the same organizational policies or share the same traditions. In fact, the process of work can also differ from one studio to another. Every studio has developed its own recipe and work process benchmark which proves to be crucial for their success. At a studio-like Blizzard, the culture is about taking the input of all stakeholders by involving them all at once. The testing and finalizing of user-experience are done with a team’s discretion. On the contrary, a studio like Twitch operates with the agenda of a more flexible environment. They trust interactive design work and user-testing as the ideal ends to lead them towards improving their work. At Riot, quite a similar approach is employed and software development teams also quite prefer it. However, the challenge arises when studios have to draw a line between each individual working in-house, in terms of what sole responsibility and nature of work seeks the greatest potential from them and how can they collectively put it across as their share of involvement in a team. Such studios find it a priority to progress with speeds and get top quality work done in record time. This is why they always look for individuals who are likely to love and obsess over every facet that makes playing experience remarkable, whether it one game or a thousand games. It matters at every point. Let’s take another example – Counterplay. It remains one of the biggest studios out there and the workplace shares a very interactive session initiated by top-level management where every worker checks with their work activity – projects they have worked on and future projects. This adds structure to their work and allows them to be more productive as such activity does save them a great amount of time. It continues to cut down the woes of work-life balance which many professionals have over the last few years. Newcomers, especially start on a beginner level also struggle with maintaining their own pace in the robust working conditions at studios, and so, they also find it convenient to be involved in the session for guidance. There are also many discussions taking place regarding the design of games, particularly UX. Team members adopt an approach of contributing to the user-experience by themselves and this approach is too traditional. Game studios do not have specific roles defined for the UX aspects and this is something that might change in the future. Irrespective of what may be one’s fashion, every game development studio seeks to maintain one thing as their primary objective: delivering what the players crave for. So, oftentimes, the professionals also have to balance out their innovative prospects and ambitions just to adjust to the preferences shared by customers. Their visions might clash and they would have to deliver in terms of what is more enjoyed by a user rather than what stands out as an innovation. All-in-all, the factors which lead to success are collaboration, hands-on experience, and teamwork and every studio will aspire to maintain it in their working culture. Not all game developing studios apply the same organizational policies or share the same traditions. In fact, the process of work can also differ from one studio to another. Every studio has developed its own recipe and work process benchmark which proves to be crucial for their success. At a studio-like Blizzard, the culture is about taking the input of all stakeholders by involving them all at once. The testing and finalizing of user-experience are done with a team’s discretion. On the contrary, a studio like Twitch operates with the agenda of a more flexible environment. They trust interactive design work and user-testing as the ideal ends to lead them towards improving their work.
The Biggest Priorities
No matter which aspect or category you work, the sole priority remains to make the playing experience enjoyable for a player.
Every studio engraves this idea in the minds of designers, artists, developers, etc. that their work must center around those values which directly allow the users to have fun while playing.
This factor generally matters in the industry, and the more chance of fun a game brings, the more it is likely to sell in the market. Gamers always have certain expectations tied to their gaming experience and with the release of new products, they want to feel and embrace all those highly interactive details and fun-clad facts and details about a game. Companies like Riot and Blizzard stress greatly on these factors and incorporate them into their development practice. Employees at these studios may have to spend extra hours brushing up these aspects to make the playing experience more enjoyable and relatable. Another area of sheer importance remains customer feedback. Every senior executive at these studios considers it a priority to check with the feedback of players and respond in such a way that they would incorporate changes to a game in the form of updates. This is also a form of teamwork as it remains a complete chain of work. Users would be knocking the doors of studios on platforms like public forums, social networks, published reviews, etc. and people working at these studios would learn feedback, run analysis in terms of how the top suggestions can be assimilated into their released games, and updates are released after everything is finalized. Most of the studios have actually found a great opportunity to make games better and more relatable by hearing out what the community has to say. They take it as the first-hand source of ideas which open greater possibilities for them to work on, and therefore, we see and enjoy some really interesting games out there. However, the timeline is quite important in this regard. Gamers usually give a few weeks or months before updates are intimidated. A studio does not have all the time in their hands to understand and filter what kind of content can be added and brought into the gaming experience as they cannot play on the patience of customers.
The future of video games is certainly bright as we enter a new era of technology – Industry 4.0 – and it will definitely bring exciting opportunities as well as bigger challenges to face.
Always have your eyes set on the future, as game development studios are always thinking about the future, the next project, and the ways by which they can innovate and set the next big thing in the market.
This is the recipe for the success of some of the biggest game developing studios around the world, and while recruiting people, they tend to see the same characteristics.
For them, it is a matter of shared ambitions leading to one output: success.
So, that was our take on “How can one get into Gaming Business/Industry”.
I hope you enjoyed this guide.
Now, I want you to tell us what have you studied in the gaming field? or what exactly you learned from this guide…
Leave a comment below.
- Chang, T. (2018, February 4). 4 Things to Know About Working in the Gaming Industry. Retrieved from https://medium.com/cup-of-tea/working-in-games-4de9b0a5df7e
- Red Bull Sweden. (2018, October 10). How to land a dream job in the gaming industry. Retrieved from https://www.redbull.com/se-en/working-in-the-gaming-industry
- Mack, D. (2017, June 13). 3 surprising facts about the gaming industry and why you should start paying attention. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/06/3-surprising-facts-about-the-gaming-industry-and-why-you-should-start-paying-attention/
- Lee, J. (2015, October 21). How to make a career in the Gaming Industry. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/251946
Muhammad Ahsan Hameed is a 2-time DGA Winner, which is one of the top gaming events in Pakistan. He is also one of the top-300 South East Asia “DOTA 2” players and included in the top 5 players of Pakistan. Read More