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11th Mar 2020

How to get a job in the video game industry in 2021

As a job platform specializing in the video game industry, we have some valuable tips to share on how to get a job in gaming.

We’ve previously said there’s no industry more exciting than esports, but if there’s anything that challenges that point, it’s gaming! More than ever, younger generations are growing up alongside video games as their main form of media, and business professionals from more traditional industries are seeking roles in a new and challenging environment for themselves.

As the leader in gaming and esports jobs, we’re well aware of the vast amount of sectors and jobs now available in gaming, but the question still remains for many:

“How do I get a job in the games industry?”

In this article, we’re going to list some tips and tricks that will increase your chance of landing a job in the games industry as a newbie and expand each point with all the information you need to use them to become the next games industry vet!

1. Participate in Game Jams

Game Jams bring a large group of like-minded individuals into one place with the goal of creating a game from scratch in a short amount of time - usually somewhere between 24 and 72 hours.

Not sure what kind of job you want in the games industry? Game jams are an excellent way to try your hand in many different fields related to gaming, with small groups commonly allowing everyone to whet their appetite in trying out Design, Programming, Art and Graphics, Games Writing and more.

On top of this, having a piece of work that you’ve worked on directly to show a prospective recruiter is a great boost when applying for roles. Don’t worry if it’s not the prettiest work - recruiters are well aware that game jams are hackathons at heart and that they’re done in a short period of time.

Use it to showcase your talent in your desired field. State what you thought went well in the time-pressured environment you had, things you’d improve if you had more time and what you learned from the experience. Were the animated rigs too complicated? Was the chosen coding language not fit for the content you were creating? Did the theme limit your writing capability? Demonstrable learnings from mistakes are great to be seen in interviews and applications, and game jams are a great place to gain these!

Look around your local area for Game Jams you can network in

We’d also highly recommend online Game Jams to remove the barrier of location. Ludum Dare is a Game Jam competition held twice a year, completely online, and allows anyone to join and compete with the chosen theme. Create an account and look for your team members in preparation for the next event!

2. Network at events

Unfortunately, this point has been put on hold by the impact of COVID on the world.

But, while the usual staple events of the year might not be possible to attend in person, you can still network with industry professionals.

Whether that's through the online variants of these events, such as gamescom going digital in 2020, or the more close-knit, networking events that are common in the industry (and that we'll often advertise on our website or Twitter account). The world has been forced apart, but the community has been quick to remain connected. Look out for these opportunities where you can, and seriously consider attending. All it takes is one good conversation to open up a job opportunity that you might never have dreamed you could.

When these events resume in-person, look out for recruiters who’ll wear extremely visible markings and have booths to approach. Query them - discuss your passion for their company/games they make, and what they’d recommend as the next steps for your own career path. Hey, maybe they'll even have some entry level roles in their own company!

If you’re an artist, developer, designer, writer or in any other position where your work can be brought with you, print it off to showcase in person and elaborate on your experience. If your work can’t be shown off on paper, upload it on a webpage and hand out business cards with your contact information and a link to your portfolio.

Side note: set up a LinkedIn profile and ensure you maintain your portfolio and always connect with the people you meet at these events. Having a network of people that will frequently update their feeds with new positions and advice/articles is one of the biggest take-aways from these events outside of directly getting an interview.

These events also host many panels and talks with experienced game industry personnel. These are a great learning tool and can provide excellent conversation starters and responses to questions in future interviews.

3. Modern Education

The world is changing! More and more people are learning skills online, and the video games industry is no different.

If you're looking to sharpen up your business, programming or management skills, you should see what our partners at the University of California, Irvine have for you. They have a host of remote programs that can be studied anywhere in the world, and you don't need to be of typical college age! 👉 https://htmr.kr/UCI

Job roles with specialties such as art and programming have vast resources online to better these skills as well, but as a standard, there are two things all people wanting to enter the games industry should learn about that can be found online: knowledge of Project Management Systems (PMS’s) and of the product life cycle of a game.

One such example of where you can learn about professional skills like this is with our partner at the University of California, Irvine. They host several online courses where you can learn about project management, java programming among other areas. It could be worth checking out if you’re looking to expand your skill set!

Most companies list their used PMS in their job roles; personally speaking, I’ve not come across one that doesn’t have a full tutorial online to this date!

To the point, a PMS tracks individual tasks and jobs required to complete the overall goal of a studio (the release of the game). This is commonly done in a workflow referred to as “Agile Scrum” and, infrequently nowadays, through a working methodology called “Waterfall”.

To learn more about Scrum and a little about Waterfall, check out this incredible YouTube video by Uzility.

Though dated, this video of “JIRA”, a commonly used PMS in many gaming companies, summarises what it does and how it’s used (other PMS’s worth looking into include DevTrack and Trello).

Understanding the way a game is developed and, importantly, how your future role fits into that process is an important element to study up on. Showing an understanding of this in an interview will vastly improve your chances of being selected over other candidates.

4. Consider a job in QA/Games Testing

Quality Assurance (QA), sometimes referred to as games testing, is a very common role to enter the video games industry, usually requiring nothing but an analytical mindset and a passion for the game you’ll be working on in its entry level/junior roles.

Though QA is slowly becoming a more standardized profession with education available specifically for it, many companies seek gamers with a deep knowledge of their titles to test their updates and expansions. After all, QA methodologies can be taught in a matter of months, but years of knowledge and experience with a particular game can not.

No role touches more parts of the development cycle than QA. Use this to your advantage and while there, learn the product life cycle of a video game firsthand, discover the internal code used, become familiar with project management systems and workflows to better understand the production of games. You can then use this knowledge to decide if you’d like to move into another area of the industry or if you wish to stay within QA.

Browse entry level QA jobs here: https://hitmarker.net/jobs?sector=quality-assurance&level=entry

Getting a job in QA allowed me to get my foot in the door of the games industry. From there I was able to learn a whole range of skills such as understanding the process of making a game, how to communicate with developers and give feedback, and discovered all the crazy unexpected ways you can break a game (and believe me, there's a lot of ways!).

Having the QA role led to even more opportunities, so when I saw the vacancy to become a game developer 6 months later, I jumped at the chance. Between the programming experience I had picked up at university and the lessons I had learned within QA, I was given the chance to move into a role I had dreamed of since I was 6 years old.

Fast forward 8 years and I am now a lead developer with the responsibility of finding the next generation of game developers, using all the experience I have gained along the way to mentor them to success.”

- Kevin Grantham-Murray, Jagex

5. Internships

Internships are offered year-round, but are most common around the start of each year for the Summer period. These are a fantastic way to gain firsthand experience in a games environment. Providing you impress, it’s also a great foot in the door for future job opportunities at the company you spend your time with! More often than not, these roles end in job offers at the end of the term.

Internships are exclusively for those currently in or coming to the end of their university time. Often 3 months during summer or more commonly available as year-long placements for a gap year. Speak with your university about opportunities and studios that are nearby - more often than not they have contacts with local gaming companies or alumni they may put you in contact with.

I am an Associate Art Manager at Wargaming UK and I entered the industry 6 years ago when I received an internship.

This internship gave me invaluable experience of a game development pipeline and the spectacular collaboration needed to create a game whilst ensuring top quality for the players.

As a student studying Game Art at the time of my internship, I was able to witness asset creation pipelines from start to finish and assist in bug fixing graphical errors.”

- Katie Byrne, Wargaming

6. Check Hitmarker frequently

Motivated more than ever to land that dream role after reading the previous points? Let’s get looking!

Hitmarker prides itself on collating the most thorough database of careers in esports and gaming there is. We post thousands of jobs every single week, so it’s the number one site to find your next step in the games and esports industry!

Just remember: don’t get carried away and apply for everything in sight. It’s a trap we see a lot of people fall into, and the result is poorer-quality applications that get rejection emails or, worse, no emails back. Instead, focus on quality over quantity, and really put your everything into what you apply for.

While it’s good to have a base cover letter you can edit for each job, you shouldn’t be sending the same thing to ten different companies. Hiring managers can spot a copy-and-paste-deal a mile away - believe us - and it’s much better to write a cover letter unique to each role you apply to.

That way, if the company has an upcoming product line launching, or is about to enter a new market, you can use the cover letter to tell them about how your skills specifically will make that process even more successful for them. And that, is really showing your value as a candidate.

On a final note, finding a job comes down to casting your net as widely as you can. It’s fine to have a dream company and role in mind, but don’t be disheartened if you’re declined by them. The video game industry is wide, and once you’ve got your foot in, many more doors will open - maybe at the place you really want to be.

With that said, all that is left is for us to wish you the best of luck out there! The games industry is difficult to enter, but not impossible. Remember to always think about the value you can show a company, and don’t be disheartened if you don’t get something straight away - it’ll be worth it when you do.

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