[Destin Bales' series of articles for aspiring developers concludes with some essential tips for finding a job and achieving long-term success in game development. The following text comes from Bales' blog, "I Need To Make Games."
Parts one and two are also available on GameCareerGuide.]
Step 7: Finding Your First GameDev Job
The time has come to achieve your goal! This article discusses both traditional and non-traditional ways to be noticed and get your foot in the door.
Before you jump straight to sending off your resume though a last bit of research is in order. It is important that you set your expectations appropriately regarding potential salary, viable job duties, and physical location, before beginning your search in earnest.
Let's start with location. Are you aware of the key hubs of game development today? Gamedevmap is an outstanding resource for finding active game companies, and it is frequently updated to reflect the latest in the industry. If you have any illusions about being able to work from home you should promptly eliminate those from your thoughts. It is a requirement that you relocate to the area of your new job, most likely even at your own expense for your first position. Therefore consider your options carefully.
Average salary information is gathered and shared online each year, providing you with a rough idea of the traditional ranges for each role. There are two things that you must keep in mind when reviewing these numbers. First, as an inexperienced candidate you will most likely fall at the low end of the pay scale. Second, many game studios are located in areas that inherently have a high cost of living. Be sure to thoroughly evaluate the differences between where you currently live and where the studio is located to understand how far each dollar will take you. For those in the states, this cost of living calculator will come in handy for this evaluation.
Now that you have some desired studios in mind it is time to dig deeper on them specifically and take note of the following information:
How long have they been in business?
If they are not independent, who owns them?
Which games have they released to date?
Who published them?
What games are currently in development, if announced?
Who are the executive members of the team? (use LinkedIn to find out)
Where did they work previously?
What is the community like for the game(s) they have released?
Are they publicly traded companies?
Finally, the most important part of your research is to play their games. Do not expect to be hired by any established game company if you have not played the games that they have created.
"A studio's heart and soul goes into the games they create. Players spend hundreds of hours with these games. Playing the game, I mean really playing the game is the best way for you to connect with the studio and understand their players. Would you walk into an interview with Google or Facebook and be unfamiliar with their products?"
- Manu Diwakar, Business Development Manager | Riot Games
City of Heroes
"As an avid player of City of Heroes I created weekly story arcs through the CoH Mission Architect system in game. These arcs were recognized by the developers and ultimately served as my way to break into the industry. My work showed the team that I had a passion for the game, experience in storytelling, and the ability to ship a product on a reliable and consistent schedule.
You can have passion and be a good designer, but it won't matter if you can't focus yourself and get your work finished."