Getting into gaming: Strategies for landing your first game development job with Katherine Mould of Keywords Studios

Getting into gaming: Strategies for landing your first game development job with Katherine Mould of Keywords Studios
Keywords Studios

Are you a passionate gamer with dreams of turning your love for video games into a rewarding career?

The game development industry is a dynamic and exciting field that offers a multitude of opportunities for creative individuals like yourself.

However, breaking into this industry can be challenging, especially if you're just getting started.

That’s why we caught up with Katherine Mould, who oversees Senior Talent Acquisition at Keywords Studios, to get some of their top tips for helping you on your way.

Keywords Studios
Katherine Mould | Senior Talent Acquisition at Keywords Studios

1. Build a Strong Portfolio

“A portfolio is essential for potential successful candidates in the game development industry,” says Katherine, “it not only validates a candidate's qualifications but also provides valuable insights into their unique talents and passion for game development, helping them stand out in a competitive job market.”

Here's how to create an impressive portfolio:

  • Start Small: Begin with personal projects or contribute to indie game development teams. These projects allow you to gain experience and demonstrate your abilities.

  • Diversity Matters: Showcase a variety of skills and projects. If you're an artist, include 2D and 3D work. If you're a programmer, show both gameplay mechanics and tools you've developed.

  • Document Your Process: Explain your thought process, challenges faced, and solutions found for each project. This gives employers insight into your problem-solving abilities.

  • Keep It Updated: Regularly update your portfolio with your latest work to reflect your growth and skills.

One key point Katherine notes is, “With AI on the scene it is important to show all your steps, from concept to finish so the teams know you did it and have the skills to do it again.”

2. Networking is Key

In the game development industry, networking can open doors that may otherwise remain closed. Attend industry events, conferences, and local meetups. Engage with professionals on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. Building relationships within the industry can lead to job opportunities and valuable insights.

  • Join Online Communities: Participate in game development forums, Discord servers, and Reddit communities. These platforms are excellent for learning, sharing, and networking.

  • Collaborate on Projects: Collaborating with other aspiring developers on game jams or side projects is a fantastic way to make connections and gain experience.

  • Seek Mentorship: Finding a mentor who is an industry veteran can provide invaluable guidance and advice as you navigate your career path.

Keywords Studios

3. Education and Continuous Learning

While formal education can be beneficial, it's not always necessary to land your first game development job.

Many successful developers are self-taught or come from diverse educational backgrounds. What matters most is your willingness to learn and stay updated with industry trends.

  • Online Courses and Tutorials: There are countless online resources, such as Coursera, Udemy, and YouTube, where you can learn specific skills related to game development.

  • Game Development Programs: Consider enrolling in game development programs or degrees if they align with your career goals. These programs often provide hands-on experience and networking opportunities.

  • Stay Current: The game development industry is constantly evolving. Stay up to date with the latest technologies, tools, and game engines.

Katherine reflects, “Building meaningful connections within the industry not only opens doors to job opportunities but also provides invaluable insights, mentorship, and collaboration opportunities.”

In an ever-evolving and highly competitive field like game development, a strong network can be the key to success, helping you stay updated, grow your skills, and navigate your career path effectively.

4. Showcase Your Passion

Passion for games and game development can set you apart from other job candidates. When applying for positions, make sure your enthusiasm shines through.

  • Personal Projects: “These projects not only demonstrate your passion and dedication but also serve as tangible evidence of your skills and creativity, which is so crucial.” notes Katherine.

  • Game Analysis: Play and analyze games critically. Understand what makes a game great, and be ready to discuss your insights during interviews.

  • Stay Informed: Follow industry news, game releases, and trends. Being knowledgeable about the industry demonstrates your commitment.

Keywords Studios

5. Apply Strategically

When you've built a strong portfolio, developed your skills, and networked effectively, it's time to start applying for positions. However, don't just blindly send out your resume to every game development studio. Be strategic:

  • Research Companies: Research studios that align with your interests and values. Tailor your applications to each company to show why you're a perfect fit. “This is key, whatever the industry.” writes Katherine. “By understanding a company's mission, values, and work environment, you can make sure that your skills and aspirations match their needs, leading to a more fulfilling and productive career experience.”

  • Customize Your Resume and Cover Letter: Highlight specific skills and experiences that match the job requirements. Explain how you can contribute to the studio's success.

  • Prepare for Interviews: Be ready to discuss your portfolio and experiences. Practice answering common interview questions related to game development. “This is a no-brainer.” opines Katherine, “Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it will help take the edge off those pre-interview nerves.”

6. Accept Entry-Level Positions

Landing your dream job in the game development industry may take time, and you might need to start with an entry-level position. Don't underestimate the value of gaining experience and making connections, even if it's not your ideal role right away.

  • Internships: Consider applying for internships or temporary positions to get your foot in the door. These opportunities often lead to full-time roles.

  • Freelancing: Freelance work can provide valuable experience and allow you to build your portfolio while earning income.

Keywords Studios

7. Persistence and Patience

Breaking into the game development industry can be challenging, and rejection is a part of the process. It's essential to stay persistent and patient.

  • Learn from Rejections: Use rejection as an opportunity to improve your skills and approach. Ask for feedback when possible.

  • Keep Applying: Continue applying for positions and refining your skills. The right opportunity will come your way with perseverance.

Katherine’s final thoughts on entering this exciting sector are as follows, “Game development demands not only technical skills but also creativity and innovation. It's a field where setbacks and rejections are common, but those who persevere, adapt, and keep honing their skills are the ones who ultimately succeed.“

So, don't be discouraged by challenges; instead, let persistence drive you toward achieving your goals in this dynamic and exciting industry.

Good luck with your upcoming applications – and be sure to check out roles at Keywords Studios advertised on Hitmarker! We’re posting new ones every weekday.