It’s been quite a long time since I’ve updated this blog, and let’s just say that a great deal has happened. If you’ll notice, my last entry (from almost four years ago!) explored my feelings about C++ and my desire to enter the game industry. Well…enter Carbine.
About a year and a half ago, in August 2010, my goal of moving from web development into games turned a corner when I landed a job at Carbine Studios.
Getting a job at Carbine was in some ways a lucky break. At the time, I had been doing freelance work for a year and a half, and business was…erratic. Circumstance combined with the economic downturn and other factors had sent my old employer out of business, and a lack of good options at the time left me in the position of looking for paid web work wherever I could. Some of it was good work, and I worked with some great clients, but the volatility of freelance work and my aversion to dealing with the business side of things meant that it would not be my final destination. I needed an employer.
And so, I kept sending my resume out.
Game Jobs Are Hard
Getting a job at a game company without industry experience is difficult to say the least. Your competition is stiff, particularly right now, and candidates with experience will always have a leg up on you. Brenda Brathwaite recently finished a book called “Breaking Into the Game Industry” on the subject that may be useful.
My experience in the industry is still limited, but here are some tips I’d give the even less experienced version of myself from my last post:
- Know someone. Sadly, this is probably the single best way of getting a job in games. It certainly helped me. If you have contacts that work in the industry, have them forward your resume for you. At some companies this will put you at the top of the stack, and your friend may even get a bounty. If nothing else, it’s nice to have a friend already at a new company.
- Demonstrate competence. Whether this means a portfolio or just talking up your relevant skills in a phone interview, communicate that you will be a skilled and valuable employee. With so many applicants, you need a way to stand out from the crowd. In my case, I talked about my how my freelance experience interfacing with clients was relevant to communicating with the designers I’d be supporting. I also emphasized the breadth and depth of my experience with relevant technologies.
- Try. You’d be surprised at how many applicants just don’t try hard enough. Show that you’ll work hard to get the job. If there’s a pre-interview test, spend some time on it. Seriously, I’ve seen some tests that look like the applicant barely read them.
- Be a gamer. This may seem obvious, but at least at my company most people are gamers to one degree or another. We play all kinds of games – and not just video games, either. I’ve been involved in three pen-and-paper groups with coworkers over the last year as well, and currently people are doing an MtG tournament.
And remember, I’m living evidence that it’s possible to go from an almost unrelated industry – in my case, web development – to games.
For the first year at Carbine, I couldn’t really talk about our game since it had been unannounced. All I could tell people was that it was an “unannounced MMORPG”. This was enormously frustrating. I worked every day on what was turning out to be an awesome game, and…I couldn’t tell anyone about it!
I still can’t talk about details of WildStar other than what’s been announced, but at least I can tell people what I’ve been working on! I’m really excited about our game and the opportunity to work with awesome people on things I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. And it’s only getting better.
Oh, and by the way – we’re still hiring.