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  • Applying For Game Development Jobs - Square Enix's Perspective

    [12.10.09]
    - Fumiaki Shiraishi
  •  [What are game employers looking for when hiring in today's market? Square Enix LA studio head Fumiaki Shiraishi discusses what he believes development studios are seeking in applicants. For more from Shiraishi, check out this Gamasutra Q&A about the studio from earlier in 2009.]

    Hiring Tips

    Below are some tips for applying to companies such as the Square Enix LA development studio. At our studio, we are looking for candidates who can hit the ground running. Even from college graduates, we are primarily looking for employees who can start contributing on day one.

    This means that the resume and portfolio must show that the candidate knows what it takes to make games. Previous experiences at a game company, or making games for a class, are both ways to show experience. Ideally, we would like to see candidates who have spent lots of time and effort making their own games on their own time.

    Also, at our studio, the dev team will actually go through the resumes. I don't know what HR looks for in candidates, but I imagine their standards are not the same as what we look for. We are looking for candidates that we would like to work together with, rely on, and not mind butting heads with. In that sense we are looking for candidates that we share values with as game developers.

    In General

    Most general tips regarding job application apply. We look for nice, personable people. We look for people who are smart and have good attention to detail. Nerdy is good, but we also like to see the balance in candidates. There are, however, a few points where we differ from "normal" companies.

    To be honest, I would suggest not writing a cover letter. A good cover letter can set the tone, but for most candidates we see, cover letters do more harm than good. We get cover letters every day where the applicant did not bother to change the company name, or talks about a great game they played that wasn't made by us. When candidates simply talk about how much they liked a game, that doesn't help either. That tells me their enthusiasm for playing games -- but says nothing about their enthusiasm for making games.

    On the other hand, every candidate should have a game they've worked on. This can be for school, or something they did on the side. There is nothing better than a good game to see what the candidate can do. Many students, however, are often part of projects involving five, 10, or even 30 students. We find any project above five or six students to be not very useful for us. With that many people, we have a hard time discerning what contributions the candidate made to that game. We prefer to see games made by one to three students, where each member had to shoulder huge parts of the game. 

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