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Old 04-27-2008, 06:42 PM   #7

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Unfortunately your prestigious school experience really isn't going to give you much of an edge. I know that's not what you wanted to hear, but it's the truth. Yes if the applications come down to you versus someone who attended a 'lesser' university, you'd probably get the job, but it's going to come down to you versus someone who made a demo, has worked on a module team, can present level design, provided an interactive script, etc: and I can guarantee that person will win out every time in this industry.

What you need to do is present yourself as the total package and use your educational experience to bolster that. But first you need to decide what it is you actually want to do. From your post, I would recommend one of three areas:

Games Journalist
There are a lot of different ways to be a games journalist. You can work on staff at a big magazine (print or online), work freelance, run your own site/blog... really anything you can do in traditional journalism, you can find a way to do here. If this is your dream job, I recommend starting your own blog and writing an article every single day. Blogs are very hot right now and with a fresh spin you can attract a lot of people, including industry professionals. Use your knowledge outside of games - there are some very successful game law blogs out there.

Game Writer
This job is still evolving; fortunately more developers are recognizing the benefits of having a staff writer. But even then, you're maybe looking at one writer at a developer who is perma-staffed, and that's quite rare. Most places contract writers, so you'd be looking at freelance work. Your chances improve when applying to big RPG developers, but the spots are extremely competitive. In this job you'd be writing game dialogue, narrative, documentation; really anything and everything that needs to be written, you will probably handle at some point in your career. Depending on the developer sometimes you have technical writers and designers who handle some of these things. Dialogue is going to consistently be a huge part of your job and I can tell you with absolute certainty that being a good essay writer and being a good dialogue writer are two very different crafts. If this is your dream job, research formatting for video games and develop a ~3000 word script. Ideally you should familiarize yourself with Conversation Editors within engines. And again, keeping a blog is a great idea.

Game Designer
I put this one in here because you have the potential to be a rather well-rounded individual, and your educational background will help you here. You have knowledge that most applicants don't - make the most of it and point it out. The term 'game designer' is used to describe different things but in this case I'm using it to describe the persons who formulate, document, and implement methods of gameplay and ultimately 'fun'. These are people who are responsible for communicating across all teams. It's very much a 'team player' job. If this is your passion, start designing games. Begin with card, board, or 2D games. The principles are the same. Again, a blog is appropriate here too.

One thing troubles me about your post. You say you need to make a decent salary soon. Granted this is true of all of us, but you stress it here, and I want to stress that banking on getting a job in the game industry in x amount of time for y amount of money - even a testing job - is a bet you will most likely lose every time. Do it because you love it, as I assure you it will take some time to get in. You're not even ready to apply yet - you need to decide what you want to do and build up your portfolio.

Also, whether you meant for it to come off this way or not, I wouldn't publicly give off the vibe that QA is beneath you. Without QA everything else would go to hell and everybody would look bad. It takes a ridiculous amount of dedication, organization, and persistence to be a good QA member, and if you're willing to work hard at it you will go places by starting in QA and impressing people. It's the equivalent of starting at the salad station in a fancy restaurant. Watch the chefs around you, go above and beyond, take the opportunities to shine and make the most of them and eventually you'll be one of the chefs the new salad worker watches for tips and techniques.
Courtney Keene
Game Writer
Portfolio and Blog
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