While there isn’t a magic formula that will guarantee you success, here are some tips that will certainly put you in the right direction.
There are hundreds of relevant courses available now that can help you secure work in this industry, aimed at the young and the old(er). Of course not everyone in this industry has a relevant qualification, but it’s certainly a good place to start. While there are still some courses that are a bit generic, we are seeing more and more people with relevant qualifications to the area they would like to pursue. The phrase ‘Jack of all trades’ has long been associated with University leavers, however now we are seeing graduates that can go straight into a studio and hold their own in their area of expertise.
Do it as a hobby
This is the oldest method in the book, before game design courses became the norm everyone did this as a hobby first and foremost. Since the arrival of game industry courses we aren’t seeing half as many hobbyists enter the industry without qualifications. However, this isn’t to say it’s not possible, if you can show real talent and passion then you will certainly be in with a chance, with hobbyists sometimes showing more relevant knowledge than graduates.
Release a game as part of an indie studio
This is something we are seeing a lot more than we used to, partly because it’s now easier to get a game released as an independent studio. You can gain a lot of valuable experience and knowledge by working on a game or two from the start to completion, and studios will take notice of this. Having said that, once you are ready to move on, do not expect to enter a bigger studio as anything less than a junior, hiring managers are well aware that you most likely have experience working with only a handful of people.
The QA route
Testing has been a very successful way to get into this industry for a long time, getting into QA is a lot easier than trying for other roles within the industry. Once you’re in a studio you can gain valuable experience and start to work your way up, if your studio is hiring for a role in an area you would like to pursue, they are much more likely to fill the position internally, giving you a better chance. Of course if you like testing you can always stay in the department and aim to manage the team.
If you are looking for work in art, animation, design or programming then it is always advisable to have an online presence showcasing your work. Try and keep your most recent and best work where it is most likely to be seen, some of your older work may not be relevant anymore and will not need to be made public. Studios love to see a clear and easy to navigate website, and they will learn a lot more regarding your experience and talent than they can from a CV.
Social media has changed the business world, it’s now much easier to contact people you couldn’t before. Get onto the games industry news sites, forums and LinkedIn and make yourself known, you never know what may come of it. The phrase ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’ could not be truer in the 21st century and you need to take advantage of this.
For most this could be the most important piece of advice, no one said this is going to be easy and anyone who did find it easy should realise how lucky they are. Don’t give up when the first batch of CVs you send out get you nowhere, it just means the right opportunity hasn’t presented itself yet. If you really want to work in this industry, keep trying. Work on improving your knowledge all the time and keep yourself busy, there is a role for you in this industry somewhere, you just need to find it.