How to get into the games industry: advice from 10 developers
So you’re interested in how to get into the games industry are you? You should probably listen to these guys then. We asked ten of the top devs for their advice on breaking into development and this is what they told us.
Creative Director, EA Canada
Some of the greatest people I’ve worked with got their starts as a quality assurance game tester. Some are embarrassed to admit that; others, like me, wear it as a badge of honour. I knew nothing about game development when I joined EA, and working as a tester is a great way to start to understand how games work.
Associate Producer, Ubisoft Paris
You need to genuinely like videogames. I applied and applied for jobs, but with a degree in science and corporate finance, you’re not the exact target they’re looking for in a producer. But it didn’t work out so I went to Gamescom and to the Game Developers Conference in Europe. I just went and talked to those people, and they’re really accessible. That’s the great thing about the industry – it’s super-big and it’s growing fast, but people are accessible and easy to talk to. If it doesn’t work, just bang on every door. That’s what I did. Definitely don’t give up, I guess.
Senior game designer, Codemasters
I actually started in quality assurance. I did software engineering at university – at the time I knew I wanted to be a designer but I wasn’t sure how. But I think now – maybe even more so than five years ago, when I was first getting into the industry – there are a lot more tools out there now. There are things like Unity, so you can obviously download the free version of that. It’s about making it apparent that you’ve got good ideas and finishing something. Taking a concept and actually running with it. It really is about not only putting together the documentation, but also putting through the level-design portfolio or making the game – actually showing that you’ve got good ideas and you see something through.
Creative director, Splash Damage
Start making games. I cannot stress that enough. There’s nothing preventing you, right now, from stopping reading this and downloading level design tools and programming tutorials. If you do that, and if you’re good – and these are skills you can learn – you will get a job. Or, if you’re passionate and communicate well, particularly with written communication, you can get a job as a tester and you can work your way up the ranks. But even then, go home every night and make content. Splash Damage started when a bunch of passionate kids got together and made their own game, and here we
are – a very successful studio.
Global brand director, Crystal Dynamics
Probably just get your foot in the door, first and foremost, doing any job. As with anything in my career it’s just been about getting your foot in there and proving your ability and who you are – and don’t be afraid to speak up. I think a lot of people look for positions that are out of their reach to begin with, and it’s obviously a very challenging place, so just get your foot in the door, be willing to get your hands dirty and get stuck in and work extremely hard. The more you’re willing to do that, the more people will realise that you’ve got something special.
Studio Manager at SEGA Europe Limited
I think it depends what you want to do – do you want to be a programmer, an art guy or a designer? There are college courses out there but you should take them with a pinch of salt as a lot of them teach things which aren’t necessarily pertaining to the roles you end up doing. You also need to talk to people in the industry to find out what roles there are, as you can do character design, environment design, physics, anything. Learn about the jobs at the lowest level, and then stick with it and don’t give up.