Jobs in the Games Industry
Career Options in the Games Industry
Roles in game development include: engineers, producers, designers, artists, testers, composers, musicians, localizers, marketers, community managers, customer support, IT technicians, legal counselors, business administrators, accountants, facility managers, HR Reps, Recruiters, etc. All these people come together to build an experience that the masses can enjoy.
The most notable places with job openings in the Games Industry are AAA, indie, and support studios and publishers.
Large AAA and support studios are mainly focused on finding specialized talent to satisfy the business and development needs for a big budget title. Smaller indie and support studios, are looking for talented individuals, employees often act in a more generalized capacity and fulfill multiple roles. Even though you might see companies use the same job title for their job listings, the duties and requirements for the job may vary from studio to studio.
Recently, more and more studios are starting to operate remotely and globally. So it is entirely feasible for developers to work from home and collaborate online, thanks to all of the tasking and collaboration services available today.
If you want a more self-employeed career, then it's totally feasible to make a living through contract work or commissions. It's very common for artists to freelance at either a part-time or full-time capacity.
Making Games is a Business and Studios Want Experience
Game studios are interested in hiring talented professionals to make a commercial product. The development team’s goal is to make a game that is fun and enjoyable. The business team’s goal is to reach as many customers as possible and to turn a profit from game sales, downloadable content, and/or merchandising. Games often take years to make, so there is always risk when bringing on new people mid-development.
Making games is a business, so studios want to minimize risk while maximizing productivity and potential profit. Therefore, a majority of the vacancies in industry are for mid-level and senior-level positions, with far fewer openings for internships or junior-level positions. Studios expect you to be specialized and already have the skills necessary to do the work that needs to be done. They will not hire someone that cannot prove they are competent for a role.
More and more people are studying game development through higher education or as a hobby. Therefore, competition is very high for internships or junior-level openings. For example, the acceptance rate for an internship at Blizzard Entertainment is less than 1%, so you have to make sure your application standout from the rest.
If you currently do not have skills to fulfill a development or business role, then you can work in entry level roles. These include game testing, customer service, IT desktop support, and various facility roles.
How Do I Get Experience?
There is only one way to get experience, and that is by using your free time to develop your skills.
If you want to be a developer, then make games.
If you want to be a producer, then manage game projects.
If you want to be an artist, then make art.
If you want to be a tester, then report bugs.
If you want to be a marketer, the show that you can make effective ads.
If you want to be a community manager, then manage a commmunity.
The Video Game Industry is an Entertainment Industry and you need to show that you have experience. Document your skills and accomplishments through your resume and portfolio.
Ways to Apply for a Job
The most straight-forward method of applying is to apply to job opening that is listed on a company's career page. If you are interested at working at a particular studio, but do not see a job opening for a position you would be interested in, then contact an individual at the studio or apply to the general job application. Making a personal connection with a recruiter or developer through email or Linkedin, may increase your chances of your application getting reveiwed.
Don't be afraid if you do not meet every single requirement in the description of a job listing. The list of requirements in a job listing is a recruiter's "Unicorn List", all the things the perfect candidate would have. But if you meet at least 50% of the listed requirements on the job description and you feel confident in your abilities, go ahead and apply. Companies still expect to train and onboard new staff, so itis more important that an applicant has the ability to learn.
At the Game Developers Conference (GDC), studios will actively be recruiting and interviewing candidates on the spot. You will want to come prepared and put your best foot forward. Be sure to come prepared with digital and physical copies of your resume, cover letter, and portfolio.
If you have an established network, contact your colleagues in the industry. People are always willing to help others in the Games Industry find a job, especially during times of mass layoffs at a studio. Don't be afraid to reach out to friends and associates to find your next opprotunity.
Making Your Application Stand Out
Apply with a Resume, Cover Letter, and Portfolio
Recruiters will toss out any job application that doesn’t have a genuine cover letter and a portfolio of your past works.
Tailor your Resume, Cover Letter, and Portfolio for the Job
Recruiters are looking for the right person for the job and who puts in the effort to make a personal connection. Make sure your resume, cover letter, and portfolio line up with or touch on the requirements of a job posting. Describe your abilities, talk about your personal experiences, and showcase how your skills would be a good fit for the job. Portray yourself as the solution to their problem.
Build a Strong Resume
Your Resume should be a synopsis of your achievements through your work experience, skills, and education. Your name and contact info should be at the top of the resume. You may present an optional summary or objective section detailing who you are, what you've done, and why you are applying to the job. Work experience and education should be listed in reverse chronological order. The skills section can include hard skills, soft skills, or both. You can describe your skills by listing out accomplishments or graphical aids depicting your skill level. Education and academic achievements are usually placed at the bottom of the resume. You should keep your resume up to date as you make new accomplishments and advance your career.
Build a Strong Cover Letter
Cover letters should be clear, concise, and to the point, written specifically to address the description and requirements in the job listing. Explain how you are qualified for the role and describe any past achievements that proves your qualifications. Describe your apptitude on related skills based on work you are currently doing. Make it clear that you have the skills for the job and can solve problems the studio might be facing. Show interest in the studio by noting the experiences you had from playing their games.
Build a Strong Portfolio
Tailor your portfolio to showcase your best work for the position that you are applying to. Do not show all of your work, and do not show work that is irrelevant to the position. Your portfolio is only as strong as its weakest piece.
- If you are applying to be an designer, show that you can design game mechanics and systems.
- If you are applying to be an engineer, show that you can program the systems that the studio needs programmed.
- If you are applying to be an artist, show that you can make art in the same style and quality as the studio.
- If you are applying to be an producer, show that you can manage a project under a tight schedule with great organization and detail.
- If you are applying to be an marketer, show that you can market games to a target audience.
- If you are applying to be an community manager, show that you can manage a community and have excellent communication skills.
- If you are applying to be an QA tester, show that you can test games and find bugs.
Questions to Ask in an Interview
Interviews should be a conversation between you and the interviewers. Make sure to ask questions to show you are interested in learning more about the job, the company, and your potential coworkers.Common Questions you will have to answer:
- What do you already know about our company? What drew you to our company?
- Why are you interested in this particular position?
- Where do you see yourself heading in 5 to 10 years? -- company size, culture, position, responsibilities?
- What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?
- What can you tell me about exciting new projects coming up in the company?
- In order of priority, what are the 3 characteristics that your top performers exhibit
- What are a few things that really drive results for the department or company?
- What are the top three goals the CEO has defined for the current year and how does my future role contribute towards achieving these targets?
- What's the work culture like?
- What do employees do in their spare time? (Don't be afraid to have a bit of casual conversation with the interviewer)
Ways of Building a Network
Attend local gatherings or mixers. Local gatherings are a great way to meet both hobbiests and professionals in your area. It's also a good way to start building your network if you aren't a professional in the industry yet.
Attending conventions give industry professionals the opportunity to come together, mingle, and network. At Fan conventions, such as E3 and PAX, industry professionals are present as both attendees and exhibitors. Professionals who are attendees are present to have a good time and casually hangout, so you have the chance to talk with them while you wait in the lines. While exhibitors are mainly present to market their games, and you might get a chance to talk with the developers during the demo.
At professional conventions, such as GDC, they are there to both share their ideas at lectures, and network with other professionals. Networking at professional conventions have a greater likelihood of leading to a business or job opprotunity.
With the advent of social platforms, more and more people are establishing their digital networks on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Discord. Feel free to reach out to individuals on social media for advice, and join Discord servers to interact with other hobbyists or professionals in a more casual environment.
Types of Companies
Main developers of a video game. Development may be entirely in-house, or some combination of in-house and outsource.
Provides legal, financial, and marketing support to studios. Expectation is that the studios abide by a production and release schedule.
Company that focuses exclusively on providing one or more services. Most commonly for Art Assets, Cinematic Trailers, Quality Assurance, and Localization. Some studios also offer general or specialized game development services.
Departments in the Game Industry
There are many departments in the games industry than just game programming and art. But, there are plenty of other roles within a game studio that most people might not be aware of. Or, people might need more insight into what are the roles available within a certain discipline.Administration
- Business Executive
- Administrative Assistant
- Data Scientist Engineer
- BI Analyst
- Tax Specialist
- HR Representative
- Hiring Manager
- IP Specialist
- Customer Support Representative
- IT Specialist
- DevOps Specialist
- Software Engineer in Test
- Audio / Video Technician
- Tech Artist
- Concept Artist
- Environmental Artist
- 3D Artist
- Texture Artist
- Pixel Artist
- Graphic Artist
- VFX Artist
- Cinematic Artist
- MoCap Actor
- Voice Actor
- Sound Engineer
- Folio Artist
- Game Designer
- Level Designer
- UI/UX Designer
- Mission Designer
- Combat Designer
- Lore Writer
- UI Writer
- Technical Writer
- Localization Writer
- AI Programmer
- Network Programmer
- Engine Programmer
- Tools Programmer
- Physics Programmer
- Graphics Programmer
- Audio Programmer
- Data Programmer
- UI Programmer
- Input Programmer
- Web programmer
- Monetization programmer
- Producer / Manager
- Security Personel
- Facility Manager
- Marketing Manager
- Marketing Copywriter
- Market Research Analyst
- Video Editor (Trailers)
- Social Media Marketer
- Sales Representative
- PR Representative
- Community Manager
- Supply Chain Specialist
- Truck Driver
- Warehouse Worker
- Store Manager
- Retail Worker
- QA Tester
- QA Producer / Software Test Engineer
- QA Engineer / Software Development Engineer in Test
- QA Analyst
- Test Lead
Video game development: Roles