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Old 11-06-2011, 09:22 AM   #1
iSmartMan
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Default Application timing and location importance?

I am currently a CS student at University of Maryland who wishes to enter the games industry. I'd like to apply for a some low-level positions as a summer internship (QA tester, customer support, etc.), but since the only big-name developer in my area (Bethesda Softworks) is about to make a major release, I don't anticipate many open positions of that sort once summer rolls around. After all, it is very unlikely that they plan on releasing another Fallout game so close to the release of Skyrim, so there won't have much that is ready for testing, and the major influx of troubleshooting requests for Skyrim will have long since subsided.

On the other hand, with a few of the low-level fields in gaming (such as the two I mentioned earlier, QA tester and customer support), it seems to me that living near the developer shouldn't be a necessity in order to fulfill one's duties. However, every time I find descriptions of those positions on job application sites, they always list the location of the developer in a manner identical to that of other job listings that would require a daily trip to an office, and I'm having difficulty telling if it is a generic template or if they really want all their applicants to live nearby. Plus, I don't want to be in the awkward position of being offered a position in a month or two and have to turn it down because I wanted it to be a summer job.

Basically, if I'm submitting an application for a low-level internship-like position online, what sort of positions wouldn't require the applicant to live nearby the developer's offices, and what would be the best time/manner to apply for such a position with the intent that it would only occur during summer?
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Old 11-06-2011, 09:51 PM   #2
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Default Re: Application timing and location importance?

They really want applicants to live nearby.
The best time to apply is either when they normally take student interns (3 months prior to the summer intern season) or when you are ready to intern, if not summer.
http://www.igda.org/games-game-july-2010
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/m73.htm
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Old 11-07-2011, 09:42 AM   #3
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They really want applicants to live nearby.
The best time to apply is either when they normally take student interns (3 months prior to the summer intern season) or when you are ready to intern, if not summer.
http://www.igda.org/games-game-july-2010
http://www.sloperama.com/advice/m73.htm
Well, at least I live within commuting distance of one major developer, so there's still some hope. Thanks for the feedback on the timing, this is the first time I've gotten a straight answer about that. By the way, how valid are my concerns likely to be about Bethesda not needing any testers or new tech support people in summer? Are there any other internship-like positions that would look good on a gaming industry resume, but aren't as time-dependent on a developer's release schedule?
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Old 11-07-2011, 07:18 PM   #4
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Default Re: Application timing and location importance?

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1. how valid are my concerns
2. Are there any other internship-like positions that would look good on a gaming industry resume, but aren't as time-dependent on a developer's release schedule?
1. It doesn't matter how valid your "concerns" are. You have little choice. Do or do not.
2. Perhaps. Ask a better question (one that doesn't make me be the one who works harder at getting you the answer you need).
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Old 11-07-2011, 07:45 PM   #5
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1. It doesn't matter how valid your "concerns" are. You have little choice. Do or do not.
2. Perhaps. Ask a better question (one that doesn't make me be the one who works harder at getting you the answer you need).
Well, let's start off simply and see if we can get more specific from there. When I think of entry-level jobs in the games industry, I think of game testers and troubleshooters/call center operators. Off the top of your head, what other entry-level positions can you think of? Just start with the first ones that come to mind and I'll see what better questions I can come up with about them.

Also, I just discovered that a friend of a friend is a game tester, and since Bethesda is the only major game developer around here, it's a pretty safe bet that he works there. I know that referrals are just as influential in the games industry as they are elsewhere, so I'm trying to get a meeting with him.

EDIT: Just realized that I was mistaken about my earlier statement that Bethesda was the only major developer in my area, as it turns out that Firaxis Games (makers of Sid Meyer's Civilization games) could also be a potential employer of the friend-of-a-friend. However, the distance between myself and Firaxis Games HQ would be too far for a daily commute, but still very reasonable for a job interview.

I did skim some of your Game Career FAQs, and they were very clear about how pointless it is to apply for a job if you don't currently live within traveling distance of the developer. Still, I only live 50 miles away from Firaxis instead of 500 (although I don't have a car and public transportation there would be more of a hassle than with Bethesda), and I didn't see you mention how often a tester would actually need to visit the developer, so I was hoping you could clarify that point for me. When you say that developers prefer to have employees live nearby, does that mean that they would expect a daily commute no matter what the position, or do you mean they prefer to be able to perform an in-person job interview and have occasional face-to-face meetings with employees who work from home?

Last edited by iSmartMan : 11-08-2011 at 07:52 AM. Reason: New information, new question
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Old 11-08-2011, 11:47 AM   #6
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Default Re: Application timing and location importance?

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Off the top of your head, what other entry-level positions can you think of?
Programmer, Artist and Level Designer/Scripter are the most common ones I can think of.

Quote:
I did skim some of your Game Career FAQs, and they were very clear about how pointless it is to apply for a job if you don't currently live within traveling distance of the developer
Apply anyway, the worst they can say is 'no'.

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do you mean they prefer to be able to perform an in-person job interview and have occasional face-to-face meetings with employees who work from home?
Barely anyone works from home. Some mainstream companies do but they are VERY few in number. If you are applying for a tester role and they do console games, I would almost guarantee you have to work on site.
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Old 11-08-2011, 12:54 PM   #7
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Barely anyone works from home. Some mainstream companies do but they are VERY few in number. If you are applying for a tester role and they do console games, I would almost guarantee you have to work on site.
You ever had one of those times when you miss a key piece of information that skews your entire perspective on the topic? I'm having one of those moments right now. This changes my entire perspective on how to apply for a tester position, and explains a great deal that I had been wondering about. All I had to go on were some horror stories I heard about things like "40-hour workdays", etc., and I had just assumed that the long hours a tester would need to spend playing a game meant that there would be no choice but to do it from home. Thank you so much!

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Programmer, Artist and Level Designer/Scripter are the most common ones I can think of.
Ok, maybe "entry-level" was the wrong phrase to use there. What I meant was positions that are on the same level as testers or tech support people. Again, just off the top of your head. If you can't think of any, that's an answer in and of itself (although I certainly hope that isn't the answer to my inquiry).
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Old 11-08-2011, 01:59 PM   #8
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Default Re: Application timing and location importance?

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Originally Posted by iSmartMan View Post
Ok, maybe "entry-level" was the wrong phrase to use there. What I meant was positions that are on the same level as testers or tech support people. Again, just off the top of your head. If you can't think of any, that's an answer in and of itself (although I certainly hope that isn't the answer to my inquiry).
Receptionist, some other admin related jobs? Community manager?

Last edited by yaustar : 11-08-2011 at 02:04 PM.
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Old 11-08-2011, 02:20 PM   #9
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Receptionist, some other admin related jobs? Community manager?
If those are the sorts of jobs that are considered on the same level as tester, then I can see why people hoping to break into the industry aim for tester or tech support operator. Those would look much better on a resume, and a lot of companies use QA positions to see if potential employees can maintain their enthusiasm if they are forced to work on games all day, every day (or so I've heard). I guess that I'll just keep aiming for one of those two positions at Bethesda. Thank you, you guys have been a lot of help!

...well, actually, there was one other thing I had wanted to know, but it had gotten skimmed over earlier in the thread. Seeing as Bethesda is going to be releasing Skyrim in 3 days, the number of testers working for them is probably going to drop dramatically, and while they would need more customer support people to handle problems with Skyrim, I doubt the surge would last until summer. I was hoping to know, how much does a developer's release schedule affect the number of testers or tech support operators they hire? More specifically, does the upcoming release from Bethesda mean that they probably won't be hiring any new QA testers during my free summer months, or do developers almost always have some project that needs testing, no matter how recent their last release?
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Old 11-08-2011, 05:48 PM   #10
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1. how much does a developer's release schedule affect the number of testers
1.5. or tech support operators they hire?
2. does the upcoming release from Bethesda mean that they probably won't be hiring any new QA testers during my free summer months,
3. or do developers almost always have some project that needs testing, no matter how recent their last release?
1. Developers usually have far fewer testers on staff than publishers do. The answer to your question is, "it depends - how many other projects are they working on?"
1.5. Developers don't do customer support at all. Unless they sell an engine to other developers.
2. No way for an outsider to know. Go ahead and apply. And consider moving to another area.
3. No way for an outsider to know what goes on in that particular company. Depends on how many games they handle at a time. Consider moving to another area, if there's only one company within daily commuting distance of where you live.

P.S. I'm pretty sure my FAQ 5 mentions that a tester has to work in the company's office daily - that it's not a work-from-home job. But then perhaps you haven't read FAQ 5 yet: http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson5.htm
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