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  • How to Really Get Your First Job in the Game Industry

    [07.12.07]
    - Simeon Peebler
  •  Getting a job in the game business is not easy; however, with preparation in the right areas, being a top candidate is something you can achieve.

    Here's the challenge. The CMP Game Group's Game Developer Research division has revealed in its recent census that the number of people working within video game development and publishing in North America is nearly 40,000. With many new education programs throughout the United States, there are thousands of graduates looking for entry-level opportunities while relatively few new openings exist. As a result, game studios and publishers are now facing a daily avalanche of resumes, demos, reels, and others types of submissions seeking these coveted spots.

    Getting an initial job in Quality Assurance (QA) is what many people recommend with respect to getting a foot in the door in this field. Forget starting out in QA if you don't really have any special skills or interest in that area. If you want to start a career in the industry as a designer, story builder, artist, composer, producer, production technician, production assistant, or programmer, you are going to have to do things at a much higher level than those competing for those same entry level spots throughout the industry. In my research and discussion with employers in my role as a professor at a new digital arts school in Chicago called Flashpoint Academy, I found a distinct and consistent thread that is guiding what we're doing in making a new breed of digital artists in the fields of game development, visual effects and animation, film, and the recording arts.

    Here's our school's general breakdown of what it takes to be a top entry-level candidate for the game industry.

    Professionalism

    If you can demonstrate by concrete example that you are dependable, trustworthy, a team player, and an excellent communicator, and that you are willing and eager to learn and do the hard work and drudgery that is required to complete assignments accurately and on time, this will really increase your value to a potential employer. You can actually learn these skills by working with professionals who mentor you along the way; the traits and behaviors I mentioned sound obvious and easy, but it is what you learn after you know everything that really counts. In school you can learn all of the tools of the trade, but, in most schools, you can't learn in the classroom what most people traditionally learn through accident and trial and error when they are lucky enough to survive their first big breaks. And your potential employer will value this - they don't want to suffer through your terrible twos. At Flashpoint we integrate professional productions and projects into the classroom and we take students out of the classroom to bring them real world opportunities to work side-by-side with and for professionals in their field of choice.

    Passion

    Do you really love games? Do you really have a passion for this business? Having passion means that you have an internal pilot light that is ready to ignite your soul at a moment's notice when it comes to this area of your life. It is a powerful energizer that will give you the ability to innovate, create, and commit yourself personally to the long hours and sacrifices required in this line of very challenging work. It is amazing how many people show up but fail to be excited or proud or happy about what they are doing. Not everyone can be a Steve Irwin in this world, but we can in fact ignite our passions and share them with others in a positive way.

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