Breaking Into the Industry: One Tale of Difficulty

Sometimes, success is partially a matter of being in the right place at the right time — and sometimes, no matter how much you may want something, you're not going to get it. So Brian Nathanson discovered while trying to break into the gaming industry (and not succeeding). His points on standardizing education are well taken (especially in terms of bridging "the gap between trade schools, academic game programs, and the industry"), but he lost me when he started talking about what the industry should be doing in the hiring process:

I just want the industry to be aware that there are people out there with deep passion and love for this medium who simply want a chance. Even a phone interview would be nice. I'm not telling the industry to give every Joe Sunday a career, but at least talk to people who claim they are passionate. Find out if they are talking through their nether regions or not.

I believe the game industry would be pleasantly surprised to find that those on the outside really just want to make appealing games, the same as someone with a Grand Theft Auto title on her resume.

A part of life, at least in a lot of fields, is that passion only counts for so much. I have no doubt that I beat out other equally as passionate people in landing positions at both a top PhD program and Kotaku; 'passion,' after a certain point, doesn't enter into the equation. I know there are passionate people desperate to enter academia and make their own contribution, only to be rebuffed year after year; we get scores of emails and IMs wanting to know how to get started and break into the industry. Wanting it really badly isn't enough — what really sets you apart from the hundreds or thousands of other people who are also passionate and want to do [fill in the blank] ?

From the Outside Looking In [GameCareerGuide]


    You're right, passion only counts for so much. I know a few people who have complained about the way the hiring process in the games industry works. I don't really see why though. I mean, if you're not very good or qualified enough for the position you're inquiring about, you're probably not going to get it. Not to blow my own horn, but I had very little trouble getting a job as an animator straight out of uni, because I worked hard at making sure I had something practical to offer.

    I can back up 100% how difficult it is to get into the industry, i myself have had a number of near misses. It is really really hard. You need to have a flawless folio, you need to have industry experience and you need to be in the right place at the right time, talking to the right person. Half of my friends work in the industry and none of them can get me in, nothing will get me in other than sheer luck and guts.

    Is passion even relevant? Why would an employer rate passion higher than quality and efficiency of work?

    Well, I knew nobody in the industry, my folio was by no means flawless, and there wasn't anything special about the time that I applied. I simply applied with my resume and reel, got a few interviews, and that was it, and I know that most of the others here got there jobs the same way.

    It's not some magical industry where you need to be of a royal bloodline. Sometimes you just might not what the company is looking for. That doesn't mean you're crap, but just think about how many people are applying for games jobs. If a company isn't presently looking to expand, you've just got to stand out from the pack, like any other business.

    There are far more ways to 'get into' the industry than simply just calling up developers saying 'hi, I'd like a job, here's my portfolio, gimmie a call, kthxbai'
    If you're passionate about games, then you don't NEED to prove yourself by going into a well-known company, just start making the damn things and get people to notice you. With the huge boom in independant gaming happening at the moment, along with the huge amounts of resources freely (or cheaply) available on the internet these days, there's no reason to complain about the industry machine.

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