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Breaking In - Help, Strategies and Critiques


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#1 Goutetsu   Members   -  Reputation: 104

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 07:35 AM

Hi all,

Ludicrously old recently-turned-30 year old looking for a complete career jump into the VG industry. I'm currently a Marketing and Project Manager for a Manufacturer/Attraction based in South Wales. Prior to this I was the Marketing Manager for a Hotel/Attraction for a number of years, in charge of a team of 6 people, coordinating marketing strategies, bringing in revenue, coordinating with local authorities, etc. Commitments to family, partner, etc, have held me firm to this part of the world until now, but changes in circumstances and a re-evaluation of my chances to do the thing I actually love the most have propelled me to try to find a way into the video game industry.

Of course, I have no experience at all, I am not a programmer or a designer, and my degree is in English Language and Literature, not Computer Science. That said, I have skills in people management, I am a creative thinker and do have an interest in design. In a bid to fulfil this lifelong ambition, hours, low-pay, perpetual crunch-time be damned, I am going to find a way if it costs me all three of my feet.

Looking for general advice and input on how to get my first break. Appreciate the best way in is to know someone on the inside, but none of my contacts work within the industry. Currently putting together a website called www.culturedgaming.com as a means of demonstrating some industry passion. Obviously I am a gamer, and play a wide variety of titles across a number of platforms. Read endlessly about the industry. Consider myself to be strong people person with vision, eye for detail, money-maker, get-things-done kind of person. Suspect I might have the constitution for being a producer but obviously wildly unqualified and would need to work up to it.

Is QA my best way in? Will gladly do it with a smile permanently etched onto my chiselled face if it gets my foot in the door and means I can segue after a period of time.


Happy to relocate just about anywhere. Currently assembling a list of all video producers and developers in the UK and am planning on sending a colourful covering letter to head honchos or whatever senior contacts I can gather. Will tailor each letter specifically for each company if possible. Critiques of this strategy welcome.

Many thanks all!

Gareth

Sponsor:

#2 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 22812

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 08:10 AM

Have you read the forum FAQs? There are many of them. They are divided into several sections that can help you.

QA is probably not the right way in for you, unless you want a job where you are testing a game. See the FAQ for things that entails, including working hours and peers. See the "Types of game jobs" collection of FAQs.

Looks like you are a writer, so you might try that route directly. You might also try an associate producer or associate designer role. There really are quite a few options available to you if you really want to go into games. Again, see the section "1. Types of game jobs" collection of FAQs.




Once you've figured out the roles you are best suited for, the next phase will be trying to land the first job. You already have a degree and some years of work experience in a related field with hopefully transferable skills. You'll need to make a lateral move into a similar job within the industry. That is an exercise in location and timing, in addition to being the best applicant; if you aren't picky about location and persist over time, the only thing remaining is to be the best applicant possible in the pool. See Section "5, Applying for a Job" collection of FAQs for that.

Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I write about assorted stuff.


#3 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10179

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 08:23 AM

I'm currently a Marketing and Project Manager for a Manufacturer/Attraction
Looking for general advice and input on how to get my first break.
Is QA my best way in?


What about Marketing? All game publishers have marketing departments. All you need is a publisher with an internal studio. I know someone who migrated from marketing into production. Go to http://www.igda.org/games-game-archives and see my February 2004 and April 2006 columns.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#4 Goutetsu   Members   -  Reputation: 104

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 08:31 AM

Hi Frob,

Thanks for taking the time and trouble to respond.

The link is really useful – I’m reading through some of it as we speak to better determine where I fit into things. A frustrating feature of my personality is that I sometimes feel that I have the ability to contribute to most roles/discussions but that I do not specialise. This is making the process of isolating what role I’m best suited for tricky to pin down. Additionally, I harbour the potentially silly quandry that until I’m working in the industry, how will I really know what I’m what good and where I derive the most satisfaction?

Despite the English Language degree, I don’t think writing is the role for me. I’d the find the process frustrating and I’m not even sure I’d be very good at it. There’s some stuff here on Project Management that looks more in keeping with my interests, allows for some creative input, and will give me an overview of the whole gaming process without having to specialise in any particular area other than time and people management. Apparently the route in here is QA since without prior industry experience, it would be impossible for me to move straight into this role (and thank God, really).

I read that only 40% of jobs within the industry are advertised. Do you think my approach of sending colourful, tailored covering letters to company seniors (with CV attached) is a good way to get noticed?

Thanks,

Gareth

#5 Goutetsu   Members   -  Reputation: 104

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 08:55 AM

Hi Tom,

Thanks for the feedback . I've just read over the two articles mentioned, as well as a couple of others on the list that caught my attention. There's some sage and genuinely sensible advice in both of the articles you cited – these were encouraging to read through. The option to segue from a marketing role into a different position once my foot is in the door is what really caught my attention, and you provide keen insight.

With regards to your advice on finding a marketing role, it could be a great route in for me particularly although, being reasonable about my chances here, while I have 5 years of Marketing Management experience, and a good mixture of online and publication-based advertising, as well as hands-on marketing experience, I am conscious that I will be going toe-to-toe with marketers who specialise and have degrees in the topic. Having marketing experience is definitely a tick in my favour, and although I read a lot on marketing strategies, advanced marketing theory isn't a feature of my repertoire. That being said, finding an entry-level marketing role and working my hardest to prove my pluck and capabilities is doubtless as good a way into the industry as any other for me. Will investigate!

Thanks for the fast response. Genuinely appreciated.

Gareth

#6 Destin Bales   Members   -  Reputation: 116

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 08:54 PM

Hi all,

Ludicrously old recently-turned-30 year old looking for a complete career jump into the VG industry.

Gareth


I love your passion already! Check out www.ineedtomakegames.com for a step by step guide for how to achieve your goal.

Best,

Destin

PS - I like your site.

#7 Goutetsu   Members   -  Reputation: 104

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 02:41 PM

Hi Destin,

Apologies for the slight delay getting back to you. Terrific website, lots of encouraging stuff here and I'm slowly but surely working my way through all of it.

Some of the links you've provided are very helpful too. Hope to put some of your good advice into practice this week!

With thanks,

Gareth

#8 Sayid Ahmed   Members   -  Reputation: 134

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 04:13 PM

Maybe you'd want to stick to your trade for a while, get some skills in programming and coding by doing simple stuff and developing a feel for what the work is like. For example, I work in the energy industry but I am trying to make a text-based game for the heck of it, since I know I'll struggle with programming a game in C++ or whatever.

Off-topic since I can't help you here, but I love the feel of your website. Maybe you wanna add a side bar to improve the 'content density' if you like. look up the golden ratio in designing websites.

#9 Goutetsu   Members   -  Reputation: 104

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 05:12 AM

Hi Sayid,

Wow - thanks the comments about the website. It needs massive amounts of work which means I need to do a massive amount of reading. It was conceived with Wordpress, which made putting it together pretty straightforward. But when I wanted to add some distinctiveness, I hit some trouble. Fortunately, my girlfriend has some experience in graphic design and was able to make some of the alterations I was after, but hit a brick wall when my requests got a bit trickier. Completely agree with your comments about a side bar and read through the golden ration link you sent - really inspiring. Ideally, I'd like to condense each article so that only the first paragraph or two appears and then link it to an individual page for those looking to read more, but I can't seem to get my head around the CSS system in wordpress. Need to do more research.

I admit that your comment about making a text-based game brought a smile to my face because, while studying Computer Science in college some eleven years ago, I was instructed in the absolute basics of Turbo Pascal 6 and proceeded to use the language to construct my magnum opus, 'The Castle of Deceit', a sprawling, path-branching, and doubtlessly crap, tale of swords and wizardry that, in essence, was a 'Choose Your Own Adventure Story' in digital format. This is, as best as I can remember, the only full game I have ever programmed, though I'm now going to try to put something together in StencylWorks in a bid to get the creative juices flowing again.

Thanks for the advice and good luck with your text-based adventure. I'm sure it'll turn out a hell of a lot better than mine did.

#10 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 02:07 PM

Reading your posts it sounds like you'd lend yourself well to some sort of production role. Look for associate producer positions. Having management and marketing experience would look great for an ass. prod. application. I do hope you're prepared to take a pay cut though, because ass. prod. is often an entry level position even with your experience.

#11 Sayid Ahmed   Members   -  Reputation: 134

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:08 PM

I admit that your comment about making a text-based game brought a smile to my face because, while studying Computer Science in college some eleven years ago, I was instructed in the absolute basics of Turbo Pascal 6 and proceeded to use the language to construct my magnum opus, 'The Castle of Deceit', a sprawling, path-branching, and doubtlessly crap, tale of swords and wizardry that, in essence, was a 'Choose Your Own Adventure Story' in digital format. This is, as best as I can remember, the only full game I have ever programmed, though I'm now going to try to put something together in StencylWorks in a bid to get the creative juices flowing again.

Thanks for the advice and good luck with your text-based adventure. I'm sure it'll turn out a hell of a lot better than mine did.


Hehe, no worries mate. It's not always about how great the product is, but what you learnt from it and how you can transfer those skills! And besides, PHP is a lot different to Turbo Pascal 6, I'd imagine.

With the website, may be you want to get a more flexible/modular blog script? I've never dealt with blogs so I can't help you there, but I'm sure there's a simple solution.

Good luck.

#12 Goutetsu   Members   -  Reputation: 104

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 12:49 PM

Reading your posts it sounds like you'd lend yourself well to some sort of production role. Look for associate producer positions. Having management and marketing experience would look great for an ass. prod. application. I do hope you're prepared to take a pay cut though, because ass. prod. is often an entry level position even with your experience.


Thanks for the advice here. Paycut is absolutely to be expected but as said, willing to anything to get into the industry.

Appreciate the comment.

#13 Goutetsu   Members   -  Reputation: 104

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 01:00 PM

Brief update for those still interested.

By complete happenstance it turns out there is a video game developer in my home town. The town where I live. The town where I have lived for most of my life and somehow I never even heard of them despite the fact that they are literally - quite literally - on the opposite side of the road where I eat my lunch every single day, in a building I stare at from 40 feet away for thirty minute intervals, five days a week. As far as I'm aware, there are no developers in my whole country besides this one and it was sitting under my dysfunctional nose all this time.

So naturally I sent them a particularly impassioned e-mail about week ago and was called in for a fuller conversation. They've since agreed to take me on full time basis if I want it, but the salary is unfortunately unworkable for me (although this is the same salary that all its employees supposedly operate on, so it's proof, if proof was needed, of the challenges some might face when trying to get their foot in the door). Fortunately they seem to have taken a liking to me, so they’ve agreed to take me on with whatever time I can give them, so I’ll hopefully working with them a couple of days a week if I can convince my current employer to downgrade me to part time.

They're a small-time and reasonable young mobile phone game developer with six members of staff producing increasingly promising iphone and Adroid casual games. I'm excited beyond the telling of it and hope to learn a lot.

Thanks to those who contributed to this thread! Seems I managed to worm my way into the industry after all. Unfortunately for those looking to emulate my good fortunate, there's very little to learn from me. I just got incredibly bloody lucky.




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