Friday, December 26, 2008

Tips on how to get into the Game Industry

Today will probably be my last post.  So to round everything up, I've decided to post about getting into the Games Industry.  This is targetted to everyone, whether you are from SOC or not, as long as you are interested in joining the Games Industry.

For starters, I'll give the Top 5 Reasons to join the industry:(in no particular order)
  1. You want to challenge yourself with something new everyday in your job.
  2. You feel a sense of accomplishment when you see your game coming together with materials from your colleagues (be it artists or sound engineers or other coders).
  3. You feel great when people say your game is a great game and you know they are not lying.
  4. You want to make people happy.
  5. You like the freedom of coming up with creative solutions to problems.

And now the Top 5 Reasons why NOT to join the industry:(in no particular order)
  1. You want loads and loads of money. (Try becoming a lawyer, doctor, dentist, minister or join the finance sector instead. No you won't be raking in John Carmack's pay for a while.)
  2. You want to play games everyday. (Game development != Playing games)
  3. You want a slack job. (Game development is hard work! Try getting a rich spouse instead!)
  4. You think you can make fun games. (Don't think, test it! Fun cannot be defined)
  5. You want to ride on the bandwagon since the government is giving out free cash. (Save yourself the humiliation of failure from everyone else before you make the jump)

And finally 5 Steps to get yourself into the industry:
  1. Build up your portfolio, work on your own games (be it alone or with others) but make sure you complete them. Games which are half-done are almost worthless portfolio pieces because they tell your potential employer that you have no perserverence to sit through an entire project. I.e. why should they hire you if you are going to quit halfway.

  2. Build up your portfolio further. Make sure your portfolio shows your potential employer what you're interested in. Is it game programming or art or others? I can't emphasize enough how important a portfolio is, which is why I created a separate point altogether to make it important! If it is programming, are you interested in graphics or AI or something else? The more areas that you can cover the better but at the same time, make sure your portfolio is not a never-ending list. Pick the best few of your works and place them there to impress!

  3. Write a resume to include the great portfolio that you've done in step 1 and 2. If you don't know how to write one, go find out! Don't list your grades if they are terrible (Oh yes, I have seen resumes that do that!). Keep ALL your achievements within 2 pages. If you exceed more than 2 pages, it means you have something less important to take out. If you disagree with me, don't say I didn't warn you. Don't fill up 2 pages for the sake of filling up the space. Don't list your primary school achievements unless they are game development related (I'd be impressed if that were true). Listing your skills and knowledge on a 3rd page (like all the programming languages and software you know) is ok in my opinion but others may beg to differ.

  4. Keep a good working attitude. (Well this is not really something related to games but I'll try to give tips anyway.) Everyone's attitudes are different, but working attitude can be trained. Work and personal matters are best treated as two different things. Don't be too pushy. Don't be too inconfident. Think "can" before you think "cannot". Learn to communicate well and concisely.

  5. Expand your network. Alot of students seem to be afraid to go out and meet people. Knowing people in your industry is the one of the best things you can do to get yourself hired. If they know you and they think you're good, you can even bypass an interview! The Singapore Games Industry may be small but with respect to networking, that is actually a good thing. It means that you can get to know almost everyone in the industry. Getting to know people also shows that you have passion for games and it can create a great impression on others! Furthermore, it allows you to pre-select the company suited to your likings. If you know that this company works a certain way and you don't like that, don't bother sending in your resume in the first place since you probably will end up quitting. Networking is another point I can't emphasize enough.

There you go, 3 sets of 5 points each for you to digest. If you have any more questions for me, let me know in the comments below.

Lastly, I just want to add one super important point. Games are entertainment. That means game development works like all the other entertainment industry. And the characteristic with the entertainment industry is GRADES DON'T MATTER (MUCH). Sad but true... If you have a great portfolio vs someone else who has the best possible grades (CAP 5.0?) but no portfolio at all, you with the great portfolio WILL get hired any time over the other person. PORTFOLIO IS IMPORTANT.  I have to keep stressing that because a portfolio is really the beef that tells others what you can do, and not what you know. What you can do is much more important because someone else doesn't have to teach you that again. Therefore, if any of you are discouraged by NUS' CAP system, my advice to you is "don't be". But if you're doing great in the CAP system and you want to get into games, my advice to you is "that's great but get a portfolio!". If you have both a great CAP and a great portfolio, then there's basically no fight; you'll probably will get head-hunted if you did your step 5 (see above) well.

Have a great weekend!

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