Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Experience and how to get it (?)

If you have been looking at job vacancies for game design or many other game development positions, you would have noticed that almost all positions available require a few years of professional experience. This is understandable, but also extremely annoying for people like me, who are looking for jobs in this industry.


In the "Essential" list for probably 90% of the game design positions, they are asking for 2/3 years of experience in a game design role, very often you are required to have shipped a AAA title and many, many more high quality requirements. Now, I understand that these are the "ideal" candidates and you can apply with less, or even without experience, but you are very unlikely to even get a chance.

Of course companies want experienced people, to minimize the risk of hiring the wrong person. This, however, reduces the amount of "new blood" entering the business and probably reduces the amount of new ideas and ways of doing things. I'm not saying that people already in the industry aren't creative or innovative enough, but I can guess that, as a newcomer to an area of work that you've dreamt of joining, you would be more ambitious, with fresh ideas and energy to work day and night. Some, or many of the ideas might not be as good, but that's why game development is done as a team, right?

I think it would be extremely beneficial for the game companies to accept more Junior Game Designers (all game design positions, such as writing, level design and game design). I am aware that, since I'm looking for a job at the moment, I might seem a bit biased. I assure you though, I'm only slightly biased. It would be a good thing to let new people (not just young) join the business as well, as their minds haven't "got stuck" with the conventional way of thinking.

Blueberry Garden - an example of a great game by a (at the time) new game developer.

What may be worst of all, though, is that I've started questioning my education. I have a Bachelor Degree in Game Design (BD of Art, with a Major in Media Studies) from one of Sweden's top Game Development Universities, the University of Skövde. I can't even create my own games since we didn't have enough programming courses during the education. I know, I could've learnt more programming on my own, but at the time I thought that my degree in game design would be enough to at least get me a starting position in the wide world of games.

Maybe I should have studied programming first and then tried to get into game design instead? It's too late to change that now, but never too late to learn, which is why I'm also trying to learn programming at the moment.

...End of rant

How to get experience?

I have been a part of the group developing Bloodline Champions which has been released as free to play. This was done during my education years in university and because of that it seems that recruiters do not count it as a relevant experience.

For quite a while I was certain that I just needed to apply for jobs and sooner or later I would get my chance, because I know I can make great games...But, I'm not so sure about "getting my chance" anymore. That's why I'm currently looking in to the possibility to make my own games, with help of my friend from Uni. Since I'm no programmer (although I'm trying to learn) or graphics artist, I will be outsourcing the tasks I cannot do myself, while I will be in charge of design and project management.

I have quite high hopes for this little project I will be running and I believe this might be just what I need, to get experience, to make a small salary in the future and to prove what i am capable of as a game designer.