We were recently asked to help explain our recruitment process, specially when it comes to young people who don’t have experience in the games industry.
This was the response : The industry is changing as fast the as the technology it relies on changes. The days of tester/QAs belong to an era of console games and big studios – which whilst still going has been in decline year after year. Today there’s less than 20% of games studios working in this way 10 years ago are still open. The 80%+ the got laid off have found new ways of working, small teams, working on mobile/ipad games or using engines like STEAM with disperate teams. Much of the work has moved to the far east and eastern europe where studios of 500 cost the same as those 100 man studios in the UK.
The games industry (the one that sells games in the shop) shrank by 20% in 2012 in the UK – and its looks to shrink again. This is on a background of more people playing more games and buying more games than ever before – but those games are facebook/mobile games.
Often seen as an ‘easy career’ – getting into the games business is far harder than making it in the music or acting business. There’s a million wannabes to every person who is actually doing it and the wannabes lack tenacity and passion (or stupidity, because the games business is one of the lowest paid job for the sheer intellectual prowess it requires) – people do it because they love it not because they want to own a house anytime soon!
And for every story of people who made their game on kickstarter or on the iphone there are literally thousands who have failed (much like trying to emulate Madonna or Bruce Willis – you are going to fail – so best to do it because you love it)
So against this stark reality – the question is how to get into it – well the only way is to have a portfolio – education is irrelevant (unless it helps you put together a killer portfolio), in this business its what you can do that will get you places – not too dissimilar to music – put your feet in the shoes of someone who is hiring for a band – are they going to ask you if you have a degree or a phd in music?? no ofcourse not, they’re going to want to listen to your demo tape and watch you play. – And no one learns to be a musician by making tea! You learn it by practicing night and day and then some more, everyday, until you’re half decent and you start by making demo tapes.
Decide whether its code or design that’s the most interesting (code is a lot harder and a lot more rewarding and there’s always a need for coders) – then use the internet (it’s full of development tutorials, free software and thousands of people only too eager to help you) – and start making some little games.
What a studio manager wants to see in someone eager to join the industry – it’s that they are already making games – okay perhaps a bit crap, but at least you’re playing the guitar, not like you’re standing there saying that one day you will pick up the guitar… no-one is going to hire a guitarist who can’t play.
That’s it, that’s the magic ingredient – around 70 hours a week spent on making demos, mini games, trying things out for some 6-12 months – if at the end of that you’re still doing it, then you’re guaranteed to have a place in the industry, if you gave up after 2 weeks, good luck – this is not your industry.
At PlayGen we only take on new recruits if they have a portfolio – we’ve hired staff straight out of school at 18 or at PhD level – but all of them have had something to show us that they’re serious about this and they understand what it takes to put something together.