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Breaking into the Game Industry: Advice for a Successful Career from Those Who Have Done It

Book Description

Students and other beginners hoping to enter the industry have a lot of questions: What should be in their portfolios? How do they make contacts? How much do game designers make? What should they wear to interviews? In this fast-paced and humorous guide, the authors answer these questions and many more, including the ones readers didn't know to ask. 100 QUESTIONS, 97 ANSWERS, 300 PAGES: ADVICE FOR A SUCCESSFUL CAREER IN THE GAME INDUSTRY FROM THOSE WHO HAVE DONE IT, will help readers discover the know-how and confidence needed to become a game developer. It will provide them with a clear, overall sense of what the game industry is and how the professionals operate in it. Readers will also learn how newcomers can best present themselves to experienced professionals in a way that will give them a leg up when trying to break into the industry.

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. About the Authors
  4. 1. Why Are You Doing this? What’s this Book About, and Why Are You Writing It?
  5. 2. How Should I Choose a School?
  6. 3. What Percentage of My School Work Will Help Me Get a Job?
  7. 4. Lots of Stuff I Learn in School Seems Like It Has Nothing to Do with Actually Making Games for a Living. What Classes Did You Take that Were the Most Useful on the Job?
  8. 5. How Much Weight Do Studios Put on GPAs?
  9. 6. How Much Weight Do Studios Put on the Major or College Attended?
  10. 7. Why Should I Care About Video Game History?
  11. 8. Is a Graduate Degree (Such as an MFA or Ph.D.) Useful for Getting a Job in the Game Industry?
  12. 9. I Want to be a Programmer in the Game Industry. People Are Suggesting I Shouldn’t Bother with More Complex Languages like C or C++ and Focus Instead on Languages Like ActionScript (Flash). Is that a Valid Path?
  13. 10. Is Getting an Undergraduate Degree a Waste of Time if I Want a Job in the Game Industry?
  14. 11. Is It Important to Play Games as a Student?
  15. 12. If You Could Add Something to a Student with Great Vision, What Would It Be?
  16. 13. I Want to be a Game Designer. Do I Need to Learn Programming or Computer Science?
  17. 14. Is It Better to be a Specialist or Generalist, in the Short Term or Long Term?
  18. 15. Is There Another Way to Get Up to Speed on Game Development, Other than Making Games?
  19. 16. What’s the Best Subject to Make a Game About?
  20. 17. Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
  21. 18. How Do I Get My Games to Be More Fun and Not Just Tasks?
  22. 19. How Do I Make Contacts in the Game Industry?
  23. 20. It Costs How Much to Go to GDC? How Will I Ever Afford That?
  24. 21. Should I Get My Own Business Cards? What Should Be on Them? What Do I Do with Them?
  25. 22. When Should I Start Networking?
  26. 23. How Do I Get Game Developers’ Business Cards?
  27. 24. When Should I Follow Up After Getting Someone’s Business Card?
  28. 25. Is There Anything I Shouldn’t Do When Following Up?
  29. 26. Should I Ask Developers to Review My Portfolio?
  30. 27. I Heard that a Lot of People in the Game Industry Use Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, and So on). Why?
  31. 28. What Else Shouldn’t I Do When Communicating with Developers?
  32. 29. If I Change My Last Name (such as for Marriage) in Mid-Career, Does that Affect My Career by Messing with the Credits of Previously Shipped Games?
  33. 30. What Should the Front Page of My Portfolio Look Like?
  34. 31. As an Artist, What Are Some General Portfolio Guidelines I Need to Follow?
  35. 32. What Do Character Artists Need to Show in Their Portfolios?
  36. 33. What Do Environment Artists Need to Show in Their Portfolios?
  37. 34. What Do Modelers Need to Show in Their Portfolios?
  38. 35. What Do Texture Artists Need to Show in Their Portfolios?
  39. 36. What Do Concept Artists Need to Show in Their Portfolios?
  40. 37. What Do Game Designers Need to Show in Their Portfolios?
  41. 38. What Do Game Writers Need to Show in Their Portfolios?
  42. 39. What Do Level Designers Need to Show in Their Portfolios?
  43. 40. What Do Programmers Need to Show in Their Portfolios?
  44. 41. What Should a Producer/Project Manager (or Someone Aspiring to Be One) Have in Their Portfolio?
  45. 42. What Do Sound Designers Need to Show in Their Portfolios?
  46. 43. Are There People Who Don’t Need Portfolios?
  47. 44. How Many Images/Games Should I Have in My Portfolio?
  48. 45. When Should I Start Working on My Portfolio?
  49. 46. Have You Seen Any Stupid Portfolio Tricks?
  50. 47. How Do I Get My Work Out There So Someone Can See It?
  51. 48. Wait, Doesn’t Everyone Say that It’s Impossible to Be Hired as a Game Designer or Game Writer Straight Out of College, or as Your First Job in the Industry?
  52. 49. How Much Help Will Reading About Game Development Be in Obtaining a Job in the Game Industry?
  53. 50. How Much Experience Should I Have Before I Start Looking for a Job as a Game Designer?
  54. 51. I Talked to a Woman and She Was Really Excited Because She Heard I Was a [Insert Desired Position Here]. She Wanted to Talk with Me and See My Portfolio. That’s Great, Right?
  55. 52. What’s the Best Approach for Getting an Internship?
  56. 53. Where Should I Look for Jobs?
  57. 54. Should I Just Show Up Unannounced at a Game Company?
  58. 55. Does the Current State of the Economy Have an Effect on Game Development or Hiring?
  59. 56. How Do I Write a Good Cover Letter that Connects with HR and Developers?
  60. 57. How Do I Write a Good Résumé that Connects with HR and Developers?
  61. 58. They’re Giving Me an Art/Design/Programming Test. What Is It and Why Are They Doing This?
  62. 59. The Design/Programming/Art Test Asks Me to Come Up with Some Game/Code/Art Ideas. I Don’t Want Them to Steal My Ideas! What Should I Do?
  63. 60. Should I Try to Take a Coding Test Before I Am Solid in the Language?
  64. 61. How Early Should I Show Up for an Interview?
  65. 62. How Should I Dress for an Interview?
  66. 63. What Happens in an Interview? How Do I Handle It?
  67. 64. They Just Offered Me a Salary! How Do I Know if It’s Good? Should I Negotiate?
  68. 65. Do Interviewees Ever Say Dumb Things?
  69. 66. Do People Still Expect Me to Follow Up After an Interview?
  70. 67. What Should I Do Before I Accept a Job Offer?
  71. 68. They Want Me to Sign a Non-Compete. What’s That?
  72. 69. They Want Me to Sign an NDA. What’s That?
  73. 70. How Do I Find a Place to Live if I’m Hired in a New City?
  74. 71. Is There Such a Thing as Taking a New Job Too Early?
  75. 72. How Will I Feel My First Day on the Job?
  76. 73. Once I Have a Job, Any Key Pointers?
  77. 74. What Do Entry-Level Employees Typically Do in Their First Few Months?
  78. 75. If I Enter in the Middle of a Project, What’s the Best Way to Get Up to Speed?
  79. 76. If I Join a Game Company, Will They Make My Game Idea?
  80. 77. How Is Performance Measured for Raises, Bonuses, and Promotions?
  81. 78. What Is It Like to Work on a Big Licensed Title?
  82. 79. What Is It Like to Work at a Small Studio on a Series of Small Projects?
  83. 80. What Is the Scariest Thing About Being a Game Designer?
  84. 81. What’s the Worst Thing You’ve Seen in a Game Development Meeting?
  85. 82. Will I Really Work 70 Hours a Week?
  86. 83. What Should I Do if I Hate My Job? (Or: How to Exit a Company Gracefully)
  87. 84. What Should I Do if I Hate Someone I Work With?
  88. 85. What Should I Do if I Disagree with Someone?
  89. 86. What Is the “Game Industry”?
  90. 87. Is There a Way to Get a Feel for the Industry Before Even Getting There?
  91. 88. Is the Game Industry a Good Place to Meet Someone to Date?
  92. 89. What Does a Game Developer Do?
  93. 90. What Does a Lead Do?
  94. 91. Who Is the Most Evil Person on a Game Development Team?
  95. 92. Have You Seen Someone Make It in the Industry with a Physical or Mental Disability?
  96. 93. How Much Money Will I Make Working in the Game Industry?
  97. 94. Do Small Studios Typically Have Health, Dental, and Savings Plans?
  98. 95. Which Programming Language Is Used the Most?
  99. 96. What Is It Like to Be a Woman in the Game Industry?
  100. 97. What Is It Like to Be a Minority in the Game Industry? Is Diversity Important?
  101. 98. What Is It Like Working as an LGBT in the Game Industry?
  102. 99. I Want to Send My Idea to a Game Company. How Do I Do This?
  103. 100. Is There Such a Thing as a Stupid Question?