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  • Layoff Survival: Three Tips Toward a Quick Rehire

    [02.24.09]
    - Nels Anderson

  • Title boxTaking an interest in other people's work. Take an interest in the projects that other people are working on, too. Talk to them both about their work projects, as much as confidentiality will allow anyway, and their personal projects and interests.

    In addition to attending IGDA events and game developer get-togethers, blogs are a great resource. I've learned a ton through conversations I've had with bloggers who write critically about games. Michael Abbott, Iroquois Pliskin, Steve Gaynor, and many others have provided incredible insight and challenged my thinking on a host of topics related to games. I can't begin to list all the excellent game bloggers out there, but Daniel Golding did compile a solid list -- that should be enough to get you started.

    You have to be genuinely interested in what other people do, though, not just as a means to an end. This sounds like something out of How to Win Friends and Influence People, but it's true. Almost anyone can tell when someone is just looking to use them.

    Public events, like the Global Game Jam, are good venues for this kind of networking as well. I recently participated in the Global Game Jam in Vancouver, and it was a tremendously valuable experience. But it was pretty disappointing that, aside from about four people -- myself, another programmer, a designer and one faculty member -- everyone at the Game Jam was a student or had recently graduated and was not employed yet. I understand that the last thing many developers want to do after a week of work is basically do more work (not to mention that the 48-hour sprint is especially exhausting and isn't attached to a paycheck), but the opportunity to get together with a group of people, go through an entire game's lifecycle with them, and learn their tricks to game development is very rare.

    See and Be Seen
    The importance of these three tips is this: Should you lose your job (or just be looking for a change), people will help you land your next gig -- just as much as having a great resume will help you find that new job. These people you meet will tell their co-workers that you're a solid and capable person, actively pursuing the things you're passionate about, and that the company would be making a grave mistake to let someone else get a hold of your skills. They might let you know about other opportunities. Hell, they might even join you to form a new studio.

    Obviously, luck in terms of timing will always be a major factor. And there are circumstances that will always be beyond your control. But the best approach is to make the most of the things you can control.

    I realize much of my advice is tremendously obvious, but I'm always shocked to hear just how content some folks are to keep their heads down and not be noticed. Most game developers I know are incredibly passionate about what they do, but it's vital that you're vocal about that passion and dedicated to making it more refined. If you're not willing to invest the time to become truly great at what you do, it might be hard to outshine those that have.

    Nels Anderson is a game programmer at Hothead Games. He's probably the only game developer in Vancouver (and maybe all of Canada) that was born and raised in Wyoming. A version of this article was originally published on his blog, Above49.ca.

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