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rausaen

Getting into Game design.

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Hello All. I'm new to the forums but have come to this site a lot in the past. I'm posting this question here in the hopes that my future isn't completely bust. I have a computer science degree with a minor in film studies and have just finished a three month contract at EA Blackbox where I was a test engineer (who did no programming whatsoever :S ). I want to get into game design however I'm finding it hard to get another job in the industry as employers keep turning me down due to lack of experience. This is frustrating as how am I suppose to get experience! I am applying for programming positions with the hopes of moving into design. A couple of friends told me that if I don't do co-op then I have virtually 0 chance of getting in. Now is this true? Am I screwed because if I am my life no longer has any meaning. What does everybody recommend do? Any suggestions anyone?

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What do you mean by "don't do co-op"? I'm not sure what that means.

Check out Tom Sloper's advice page. He's got a whole bunch of FAQ for people who want to start out in the industry.

But basically, you're on the right track. Getting your foot in the door is a good start to a game design position at an established studio. Work on a few titles while making it known you'd like to move into design, and you'll gain enough understanding of the biz and enough clout in the company to (possibly) gain a design position.

And I wouldn't go as far as saying your life no longer has any meaning if you don't quickly get into a design position. Once you've got a taste of the game industry you might find you enjoy some of the other roles as well. And there's always other careers with some of the same appeal. Worst comes to worst, there's always hobby game development.

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Oh. Co-op is this option students can do where some semesters they work for an established company in the software industry. They were saying that if I didn't have that experience prior to graduating then I was screwed. But yeah thanks for the reply.

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We had a similar requirement as part of our software engineering degree. I spent a summer writing networking and in-house tools for a local software dev house. Many other students though just counted the first eight weeks of their first job - it was a pretty lax requirement.

In your case though, you wrote you've got three months experience as a test engineer at EA Blackbox. That's certainly a plus.

Are you applying to all companies in your area or just those that advertise for positions? If a company is advertising, they're often looking for an experienced developer. But many other development houses are looking to hire all the time. Back when I was looking for a game programming job I just sent my CV to all the big local companies in the area and got a couple of interviews out of it. It doesn't hurt to try.

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As long as you're willing to relocate there ARE tons of jobs out there, even for fresh graduates. Get onto the Gamasutra career newsletter and hop onto IGDA.org to find your way to all of its affiliates websites. It'll take some time and effort on your part to go through all of the game companys' websites, but you'll find you have more options than you probably realize.

Don't worry about getting your foot in the door as a game designer at a large company, because it probably won't happen. You'll either need to start at a small company if you want to start out as a game designer (which is what I did, but you still need to make sure you have some sort of design portfolio), or start as a programmer, artist, or even QA at a bigger company and then transfer over into design after awhile.

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Yeah, I wasn't planning on starting out as a designer. My plan is to start out as a programmer then work my way into design.

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Quote:
Original post by rausaen
Yeah, I wasn't planning on starting out as a designer. My plan is to start out as a programmer then work my way into design.

OK, then. You've been without luck so far applying for programming jobs in Vancouver. You don't necessarily need to relocate, since there are game companies in your area.
Now it becomes simply a matter of applying the right way. You've already been referred to my website. Make sure you do the things listed in my article 27 (Breaking-In Tips) and that you stop doing any of the things listed in my article 24 (Stupid Wannabe Tricks) that you might have been doing previously.
If you have a solid portfolio, that together with your extremely brief QA experience and your degree should get you hired eventually. The key therefore in your case is the portfolio.
If you don't have a solid portfolio yet, you can build it while working again in QA. This dual-pronged approach greatly increases your chances of getting where you want to go. Eventually.
You also need to drop the defeatist thoughts. Make a plan to work your way slowly and patiently along, and you can get there.

[Edited by - Tom Sloper on December 1, 2008 5:38:58 PM]

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I did QA and I felt like I was wasting myself... I too do a bit of coding and wanted to be more hands on with development. But where I worked we never saw the code or even spoke to devs unless we broke the game. I did that a couple of times and my visits with the devs we not greeted with earnest. In fact I think they hated me for finding bugs. But at least I got to speak with them and see the emulators with debugging the game.

Anyways, I am on here because I need real experience too. In the U.S. we call CO-OP's internships. At least that's what I think you were referring to. So, I want to join a mod team or something.

I don't recommend Quality Assurance to anyone except that it will build your endurance, test your heart, and mold you into a perfectly underpaid employee. At the same time you may get to meet people that work in the industry and get their first hand experiences.

I guess I kinda feel empty too like my life is meaningless... My friend couldn't handle it so he did in with himself. Unfortunately, theres no extra lives in RL. I wish that he was still around but thats what caused me to quit work in QA.

Let me know how it goes for you cause I am in the same situation somewhat. It seems like the industry is guarded hard to break into.

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Like others have said build on your portfolio and look at the smaller companies were the competition is less fierce.

Have you considered a level designer role rather then a programmer role? Its more scripting then programming but most games have an activing moding or level designing comunitee that you can get involved in. This will allow you to build your skills, and portfolio.

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