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How to break in the games industry - an insiders' guide

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I applied for about 15 company that I'm interested to work with and have open junior level design position. I didn't know that I would usually get a reply even if I'm rejected. But man, it's going to be a couple of stressful weeks waiting for the reply.

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Personally I got in by going into QA first and then applying internally for design roles. I'd highly recommend that route to anyone looking to break in now.

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Good question /\

Also, here's mine:

  • 1. In the email I'll be sending to studios with my cover letter and portfolio link, should I also attach my CV?
    • 1.1. Or, should I wait it to be requested?

Everywhere I read I conclude that in our industry, CV is not that important. All that counts is the portfolio and to demonstrate that you can do awesome works/ projects ("prove that you can design/ develop x"). (if my conclusion is not right, please let me know! :))

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Yes your CV is still important. For me especially, since I'm a programmer, we don't do portfolios so it's the most critical piece of the application. But it's still important for those with portfolios to submit a CV as it can contain information your portfolio may not. While the portfolio is a good way to show off your own personal work, your CV can explain what your role within the team was and exactly what you were responsible for and required to do. You can also use it to explain any scenarios where you went above and beyond what was expected of you. Your LinkedIn profile is also a good idea as I myself have been contacted about job opportunities through it simply because recruiters run searches or look at who their contacts know to find new talent.

Can modding experience == industry experience?

As for modding experience, I wouldn't say it's equivalent to industry experience (industry is much better), but it's the next best thing to it. If you don't have industry experience or very little of it, throwing in modding experience can bolster your profile. Especially if your industry experience was something like QA and in a mod you were lead artist that will show your passion and skillset better than your industry experience will. Just make sure you put your completed mods front and center. Tons of people start a mod and fail to finish it -- having a completed game for employers to look at shows them you are committed and capable of finishing what your started.

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Never ever make the recipient of your application have to ask for more details. The drop out rate is enormous. More is better.

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I need some advice from you guys. Sorry couldn't shorten the post more than this.

I want to land a job in the industry but unfortunately have a very mixed skillset, so I'm thinking to apply as game tester to start, there are a lot of openings. I would also apply as a 2D artist where possible.

Problem is I'm not sure how to present myselft, I don't want to send out applications without a website to back that up... but do testers have portfolios? Couldn't find any.

I'm Italian, so that's favorable to me 'cos I can also carry out localisation duties.

At the moment I'm making 2D art for indie dev Ad Maiora, we are about to publish our second mobile game (basically we are garage developing).

I know my way around Hammer Editor, I worked extensively on it in the past but never felt to release anything.

My education is in web design and development.

As for pure testing experience, I have only managed duties for the (smashing) singleplayer HL2 mod Riot Act, plus additional design and trailer storyboarding. Right now I'm helping another friend testing his new but unannounced game, he's the guy behind Naumachia (project on hold) and the HL Mod The Specialists.

Assembling all this in a portfolio is just a mess, so I was thinking to center it on the 2D art I'm making, everything else would just be mentioned in the resumé section and application.

Any advice?

I wouldn't advise anyone to leave their home country without any experience in the field they are looking for work in. [...] A friend of mine in Canada is currently finding it hard to get a position because he doesn't have a visa (temp visa) [...] And he's got 8 years of industry experience. [...] Canada has acquired a very large pool of talent to choose from in the recent years, so much so that companies in Montreal are now asking for things to calm down before the system implodes. It's just not 2007 anymore.

This -and all the rest of your post- is intersting: so you are saying that in Canada they are hiring only residents?

By living in Italy relocation is basically my only option; yeah Ubisoft does have an office in Milan but I want to get out of this place.

I'm primarly looking at European studios but also across the pond, I've found at times openings in Canada/US asking for Italian knowledge.

I wonder if it would eventually be easier to get a US VISA by knowing people there? I have family in Alabama, my aunt married a soldier.

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Mixed skillsets are a good thing, as long as you are proficient in this mix. It increases your chances to get an offer for one of your skills of course.

If you're looking for 2d art positions, I'd honestly look into the mobile and browser market for offers in Europe, before jumping across the pond. You will absolutely need a portfolio though. Testers don't have them, but breaking out of QA is often a perilous adventure (yes, it's a highway for a lot of people, but guess what, crashes happen)

With the skillset you seem to have (you have made games before), a 2d artist portfolio shouldn't be too hard to put together. Guys like Gameloft should scoop you up in a heartbeat with a good portfolio. And once you're in a company like that (I really have no idea how they run their shop) you could look into internal transfers to new locations around the world.

Just give it a go, post a portfolio in our portfolio section and see where our feedback takes you.

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Thank you very much Francois.

I want to make use of the downtime on our project, i hope i can finalize the website within the week. I don't want to make anything too fancy, but being a web designer I would like to let people know through the page. I'll post something in the forum section as soon as I have something for feedback.

breaking out of QA is often a perilous adventure (yes, it's a highway for a lot of people, but guess what, crashes happen)

very intersting point, i haven't really thought of that. Is it because they get slammed by the routine?

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Never ever make the recipient of your application have to ask for more details. The drop out rate is enormous. More is better.

Thank you for letting me know. I'll translate my CV and get ready to unload a massive amount of emails :)

Another question regarding CV:

It was kind of general sense that CVs shouldn't be longer than two pages.

But, at the same time, I saw/ read/ watched people saying that a CV should have only one page...

It's really hard to filter everything to make a one-page curriculum and yet have the relevant information. I remember someone saying in a podcast (I think it was one from http://gim.acanaday.com) that "if you cannot make a one-page CV, your are not a good designer".

What do you guys have to say about it?

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I have no idea what the census is on CVs for dev jobs. The standard layout of listing list everything one after the other can be problematic but I assume(?) that you are allowed more creative freedom and can use a two-column approach to fit everything in.

Again, I have no idea if this frowned upon amongst game recruitment but I know that in other occupations deviating from the standard can piss people off. :oops:

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I'm thinking the same. We are a creative industry, right? I mean, there shouldn't be any problem "breaking the old standards" to include relevant information/ improve the layout in the CV, but that's just my opinion and I would like someone to confirm it if that's really the case...

To make a single page CV I will certainly have to use two columns. I downloaded some MapCoreans' CVs to use as layout reference ;P

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for as much as i could, i used one page for work/mod experience/education and one page for skills/proficiencies. i honestly don't think people care that much about how the cv is structured as much as what is actually on the cv, perhaps more so in this industry (where experience means a lot). but yeah for the skills page i used two columns.

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