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How to get to AAA company ?

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I heard that the company AAA (like EA, Ubisoft, etc) is only accessible by personal recommendation. Once you get a phone call and invited to come to the interview. This is the only way to get there?

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1. How to get to AAA company ?
2. I heard that the company AAA (like EA, Ubisoft, etc) is only accessible by personal recommendation.


1. By having several years' experience in the game industry and living within daily commuting distance of the company.
2. You heard wrong.

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Hi,

 

There are several major ways of getting into an AAA game development or game publishing company. I mentioned the game publisher because sometimes a person thinks that the publisher is a game developer. It is worth mentioning because there are ways of getting at the AAA game developer thru the publisher, for example, by becoming an UBER coding and/or artist modder of one of their AAA games.  This sometimes gets a person noticed and invited or by reputation is accepted by applying or networking their way into a company. In my case, I am all about social networking (both public and private) and I have found a couple strongholds only by this strategy without publishing a portfolio as such. I do highly recommend a portfolio, however, especially if you can provide it in your own professional looking website for your little business.

 

Most importantly you need to research what those companies need or realize by inference or deduction, then build your value in that direction. Next you must aggressively look for any opening to make contact with the person who does the recruiting for the company. If you finish a degree with a "gaming university", then that school should also have contacts, which is a major advantage of completing a study.

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Another thing that might be worth mentioning is that crytek often recruits future employees through its (modding) community, they are pretty well-known for this. I am pretty sure other major companies like epic do the same.

 

edit: sorry i just saw the poster above me mentioned this already! But anyway, besides applying directly for a job this is also a valid method.

Edited by Shadow_hunter

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The larger the company the easier it is to get your foot in the door.  EA, Ubisoft and Crytek all regularly take on graduates every year.   Just polish your demos and CV and apply.

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Microsoft and IBM have games divisions, too (IBM did last I checked, at any rate).

 

The one thing a AAA company has (Warning: broad generalization ahead) is specialization. Some guys are good at coding. Some at storyboarding. Some at writing dialog. Others at mapping and level design. If you want to get your 'foot in the door', be very good at one thing, and know enough to be competent at the others (a 'sideways' promotion can save your ass when layoffs come).

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1. How to get to AAA company ?
2. I heard that the company AAA (like EA, Ubisoft, etc) is only accessible by personal recommendation.


1. By having several years' experience in the game industry and living within daily commuting distance of the company.
2. You heard wrong.


1. You hardly need years of game-industry experience. You just need to have something to offer the company and an ability to clearly communicate what that is in your resume/cover-letter and interview. We've hired a number of people with no previous games-industry experience but who had skills or experience we felt were something we needed. You can learn any game-specific stuff fairly easily (it's all just math at its heart) if you're a smart person with a solid CS background, and that matters as much to companies as having shoveled out a game or two before.

2. You don't _need_ to know someone in a company, but it really, _really_ helps. Many hires do come from recommendations by other employees. That's true for most other non-games organizations in my experience, too. Succeeding at life is all about whom you know, not what you know. When you have a position open and you're getting hundreds of applicants a recommendation can be the thing that helps float your resume to the top of the pile. When you don't officially have a position open then a recommendation is pretty much the only way to even get into the pile in the first place. We obviously have quite a few people who came in without being recommended by anyone, but I'd say that the vast majority of our hires are from recommendations.

Short version: what walsh06 said.

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Having darted in and out of the industry a few times, and recently entered negotiations with a AAA company, I'll give you my take on it all. Getting to a AAA company is all about being in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills and with a dash of luck. Tom Sloper is the man and has a giant FAQ to explain everything about the industry.

 

First, acquire the skills needed. Sometimes people are skilled enough upon graduating with a BA/BS. Sometimes it takes a few years in the industry. Sometimes it never happens. AAA companies need a wide range of people, so master what you find most interesting. For example realistic lighting, ai programming, combat design, etc.

 

Second, prove you have the skills. You won't be proving to industry peers, but likely HR recruiters who may or may not know what C++ is and how great it is that you can optimize hashing algorithms. You'll need a personal website, portfolio, copious examples laid out so even the layman can tell you are a badass, and a playable game.

 

First is the skills, second (and much more difficult) is proof of the skills.

 

Things that help with proof:

Industry experience from other areas (mobile games, web games, indie games, educational games, serious games)

A resume with recognizable names (i.e. Zynga, intern for Peter Molyneux, presented at GDC, articles published on GameDev.net or Gamasutra)

Friends at big companies

Releasing a game that makes significant amount of money or wins awards

Being skilled in an area that has less competition*

 

* Wanting to be a character designer is WAY more sought after than a lighting engineer

 

Ok so you have the skills and can prove them, now what? You must be in the right place at the right time. Generally AAA studios do most of their hiring before a development cycle, and at the start of crunch before shipping (these are usually contract positions). So if you are eyeing particular studios, these two periods are key. Also, you should move to areas of interest (check GameDevMap for help). It is exponentially easier to land a job when you live within a few hours the company. Although, I've gotten job offers cross country, the best jobs I have landed were within driving distances.

 

The "luck" is a multiplier. Some people land amazing jobs out of college and that's great. But as your skills and experience go up, the amount of luck needed to land a AAA job go down. It goes from "I'm the student who, out of 3058239 applicants, got the entry level designer position at thatAAAcompany #baller" to "Sigh, AAA recruiters keep hounding me on LinkedIn #firstworldproblems". Just understand this takes years so enjoy the journey.

 

Now some random advice.

- Read industry websites everyday, mine are Gamasutra, IndieGames, GameDev, RockPaperShotgun, and GamesIndustry.

- Don't be put off by rejection. I've failed many o' interviews, some were embarrassing. I've also aced many, high fived everyone in the room to only get rejected a week later. Learn from every experience, interviews are great ways to find out holes in your skillsets (i.e. not knowing quaternion math).

- Make your own games. FINISH PROJECTS no matter what!!!! Enter projects into competitions.

- Do not get salty over other people's success. I use to get insanely jealous over people I unfairly deemed "not worthy" of their job positions. I was a whiny child. Don't do this!

- Always be professionally and friendly.

- Finally have fun!

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One other thing I'll add that was told to me by an HR high-up:

 

"Resumes are a dime a dozen. Thank you letters are golden."

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