Like most facets of the entertainment industry, video games are not easy to break into when it comes to finding jobs. Despite the fact that there are many game development studios, publishers, and independent game creators out there, the industry is actually rather small. And of course, this makes it somewhat insular. So when a company is looking to hire, they’re more likely to promote internally or poach a star from a rival game maker rather than offering the job to someone like you (even if you hold a college degree that says you’re qualified). So what can you do to ensure the best chances of working your way into a fun and exciting career in game creation? Here are just a few hints to help you uncover the opportunities you’ve been looking for.
For starters, it couldn’t hurt to have some education under your belt. Although an actual degree in video game creation is a great springboard, keep in mind that there are many different types of positions within video game companies. Aside from the engineers that actually write the codes for games, companies need artists, writers, and producers to take them from concept to completion. And then there are legal matters like licensing and contracts to see to, as well as marketing, sales, promotion, distribution, management, and so on. All of these areas of operation need qualified workers, which means even a degree in business, communications, marketing, or management (for example) could serve you well.
And don’t forget that the market for video games has expanded greatly over the last few years thanks to the growth of online and mobile markets. No longer are gaming companies limited to making products that can be used only via cartridge or disc with a console system (although this format is still popular). If you have experience working with online communities or mobile technology, or even creating your own mini-games for online consumption, you may be more valuable to game makers than someone who has an education and/or background in traditional console gaming. These venues are the wave of the future and those who are prepared to participate in this type of game creation might have more opportunities now and in the coming years. So think about how you might take games like Call of Duty, Need for Speed, or even Chessmaster Challenge and make them work for mobile markets and you’ll be a step ahead of your competition.
Of course, it’s not always about what you know; sometimes who you know is much more valuable when it comes to getting a job, especially in an industry that is difficult to break into. College is one great venue for networking since students in your classes today will become your colleagues tomorrow. But you might also want to attend job fairs for the gaming industry (or specific companies), look into internships, and join industry forums as a way to meet other professionals and seek out job opportunities. And if you can’t get a job with gaming giants like EA or Activision, consider going with a startup as a way to build your cred and get a foot in the door.