Big vs. small companies Big companies – for experienced candidates only Narrow specialization Numerous specialties Numerous departments or studio teams Opportunities for lateral, diagonal, vertical movement Small companies – good for beginners breaking in Everybody wears numerous hats Few departments/teams Opportunities vary, but boy will you learn a lot!
Programming The most in-demand position, and the most demanding. Requirements: 4-year degree or better (CS preferred) Solid portfolio (demo disc) Salary: the highest in the industry (see GameCareerGuide Salary Survey); avg. $83K Entry-level positions abound, mostly at smaller companies (dont hold out for top companies only). Internships may be available
Programming specialties & languages, etc. A.I. Engine Tools 3D Graphics Physics Online/networked Mobile Web games, IPTV C++ C# Flash Java Brew Scripting languages Engines
Art Also highly in demand, but very competitive Requirements: Art degree Outstanding portfolio Comfort with Photoshop, Maya, 3DS Max Entry-level positions plentiful but dont hold out for a job at one of the top companies – be willing to start small Salary: avg. $67K
2D Art Yes, 2D. User interfaces, mobile games, web games, textures Requirements: Art degree Outstanding portfolio Entry-level positions plentiful but dont hold out for a job at one of the top companies – be willing to start small
Concept Art Niche position, requiring extraordinary talent and style Requirements: Art degree Exceptionally outstanding portfolio Optional: film, comic book / graphic novel experience The extraordinarily talented candidate might be able to get a full-time job making concept art for games. But mostly its freelancing...
3D Art Highly in demand, but very competitive Requirements: Art degree Outstanding portfolio Entry-level positions plentiful but dont hold out for a job at one of the top companies – be willing to start small
Animation Narrow specialty Requirements: Art degree Outstanding portfolio (demo reel) Knowledge of MoCap and Facial MoCap & other animation tools Entry-level positions unlikely. The candidate may need to gain experience first in film, TV, commercial, or Web animation
Game Design Highly competitive position. Its not what you think. (Its not about ideas.) Requirements: Bachelors degree, liberal arts Strong résumé (a lot of industry experience) Entry-level positions do not exist. Game industry experience required. Usual entry paths: QA, Level Design, Programming Salary – lower because of the high competition (the glamour and cachet of the title); avg. $64K
Level Design Very much in demand Requirements: One or more degrees: Art, Game Design, Programming, Architecture... Outstanding portfolio (demo disc) Comfort with 3DS Max and/or other level design tools Entry-level positions exist, but the candidate must demonstrate proven ability to create levels that are fun to play. Internships may be available
Writers Demand vs. supply: many want to do it; few are qualified; few openings Requirements: Writing degree Writing experience credits (film, episodic/dramatic TV, comic books, graphic novels) Entry path: Writers for games are normally freelancers, not full-time employees. (Exceptions exist.) Freelancing...
Audio Demand vs. supply Requirements: Bachelors degree Audio experience credits (film, radio, TV, commercials, books on tape...) Entry path: Audio engineers are often freelancers, not full-time employees. (Exceptions exist.) Freelancing... Average income: $73K
Producing Every project needs someone to manage the details, communication, expectations; only open to industry insiders Requirements: Bachelors degree a plus Outstanding game industry experience Entry-level positions do not exist. Most producers migrate into project management from other jobs: QA, programming, art, design, marketing, legal... Salary – not as high as you might think; avg. $79K
Testing (Quality Assurance) Demand vs. supply: testers are always needed; lots of people want to be testers; easiest entry path Requirements: good communication skills; good technical skills; experience playing games Opportunities for advancement: can be a good entry pathway, depending on company type. Best opportunities with smaller companies; no opportunities at independent test labs Salary: the lowest in the industry; avg. $39K. And expect frequent layoffs
Customer Support Demand vs. supply: not highly competitive. Openings may exist, when the position isnt outsourced. Requirements: candidate must be a helpful people person with excellent communication skills Opportunities for a move into the studio: depends on the company and whether or not it has an internal game studio I consider game masters as belonging to this category. Sometimes unpaid volunteers (but pay is available)
Information Technology All big companies need IT (at small co., someone in engineering handles IT) Requirements: Degree IT experience Entry path: none (just apply at a large company) Opportunities for a move into the studio: depends on the company. If there is an internal studio, may be possible to migrate into game creation
Marketing Requirements: Marketing degree Marketing experience a plus Entry path: apply when nearing completion of marketing degree. Internships a good way in. Experience in other industry? Apply! Salary: avg. $73K
Legal (in-house counsel) Requirements: Law degree (contracts, IP) Bar exam Entry path: none (just apply at a large company). Internships a good way in Opportunities for a move into the studio: Depends on the individual
Financial/accounting Requirements: Degree A plus: CPA or MBA Professional experience (good résumé and references) Entry path: none (just apply at a large company) Opportunities for advancement: managerial only (no movement into game creation is likely from here)
Switching into games from another career More doable than you might think Professional experience means a lot Game degree not needed, but might help Solid portfolio essential The path of least resistance
Switching jobs within the industry Doable but requires patience and serendipity Depends on company type and structure Depends on individuals experience, cooperative/ collaborative attitude, and what the company needs Individual must prove hes capable, enthusiastic, hard- working. Self-driver whos not afraid to seek assistance and learn Realistic approach required; willingness to do whatever is needed
The Egg The egg is the game industry. The yolk is whatever job it is that YOU want. Moving around in the egg white is comparatively easy. Getting into the yolk takes time. The really hard part is getting inside the shell in the first place.
Job vs. Indie vs. Lone Wolf vs. Startup...??? Many seem to think they have to start a company right out of high school or college!!! Indie (or modding) is good preparation for Job. Job is best preparation for Startup Experience Contacts Maturity Money Lone Wolfdom is only for the exceptionally accomplished Renaissance Man
The keys to breaking in Location, location, location Realistic targeting Research, research, research Networking Solid portfolio (body of work)
Resources Sloperama.com – yellow zone IGDA.org (job aspirants, professionals) GameDev.net (indies and lone wolves) GameCareerGuide.com (students, wannabes) Introduction to Game Development (Rabin) Secrets of the Game Business (Larramée) Game Design Workshop (Fullerton)