Breaking Into the Industry: One Tale of Difficulty

Illustration for article titled Breaking Into the Industry: One Tale of Difficulty

Sometimes, success is partially a matter of being in the right place at the right time — and sometimes, no matter how much you may want something, you're not going to get it. So Brian Nathanson discovered while trying to break into the gaming industry (and not succeeding). His points on standardizing education are well taken (especially in terms of bridging "the gap between trade schools, academic game programs, and the industry"), but he lost me when he started talking about what the industry should be doing in the hiring process:

I just want the industry to be aware that there are people out there with deep passion and love for this medium who simply want a chance. Even a phone interview would be nice. I'm not telling the industry to give every Joe Sunday a career, but at least talk to people who claim they are passionate. Find out if they are talking through their nether regions or not.

I believe the game industry would be pleasantly surprised to find that those on the outside really just want to make appealing games, the same as someone with a Grand Theft Auto title on her resume.


A part of life, at least in a lot of fields, is that passion only counts for so much. I have no doubt that I beat out other equally as passionate people in landing positions at both a top PhD program and Kotaku; 'passion,' after a certain point, doesn't enter into the equation. I know there are passionate people desperate to enter academia and make their own contribution, only to be rebuffed year after year; we get scores of emails and IMs wanting to know how to get started and break into the industry. Wanting it really badly isn't enough — what really sets you apart from the hundreds or thousands of other people who are also passionate and want to do [fill in the blank]?

From the Outside Looking In [GameCareerGuide]



These articles/essays/whatever get posted on sites like this every once in a while, and they're always pretty much the same. blah blah blah, I want a job and can't get one, blah blah blah. It gets redundant and boring after a while.

The fact is there is no mystery about getting a job in the game industry, or at least no more than any other industry. Every white-collar industry is pretty much the same. It's all about the right combination of experience, education, knowing the right people and getting a little lucky and having your resume be at the top of the pile on the one day when your future boss was in a good mood.

I worked in the game industry for a while and I've got my name in the credits to some pretty well known games. But guess what - those jobs were among the easiest I've ever gotten. Both were made a lot easier by friend recommendations - I just happened to know people at both of the gaming companies I worked for before I applied. Like it or not, that helps a lot. I still needed to go through a full interview process - it's not like I knew the people who actually hired me - but networking is important and it can get you that "in".

Of course, I wouldn't have gotten those jobs if I didn't have a background that fit the position. In one case, it also helped that I went to the same college as the boss. But companies are more often than not looking just as hard for people who are gonna "fit in" as they are for people they think are really the best or "most passionate" about what they do. They want people they think are gonna work with the mix of people they already have.

I guess the point I'm making is that if you only take either an academic or an experience view of yourself and how it relates to potential jobs, you'll never get anywhere. You need to network, and you need to actually try to be the kind of *person* that you think the company you're interested in might be looking for. If you're applying to a job at Rockstar, for example, you probably don't want to use lots of flowery business language when you submit your application. Every company has its own persona, and you need to fit into it. It's not a one-size-fits-all thing, despite what they teach you in school about looking for jobs.