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What You Absolutely Must Do To Get Into The Industry (Panel)

ARCARC Founder, Business DeveloperCambridgeRegistered User regular
Hey PAXEast folks. My name is Benjamin, and this is the third year in that I've moderated the panel geared towards helping individuals get into the industry. Since we only have an hour during the panel itself, I figured I'd take some of the best questions from the pre-PAX audience for specific subjects to focus on during the panel. Yes, the personnel on the app/printed forms are different than on here, but this is the most updated, final roster (as of 2/20).

Here is the panel itself.

Let us know what topics you want to cover.

Here are the panel members:

Trevor Stricker:

I was a coder/designer/engineering lead making console games for Sega/2K/Smilebit. Stuff like NBA 2K and Panzer Dragoon. After that I was in charge of the game development side of Quickhit NFL Football, an early F2P facebook game that we sold to a publisher. Now I'm mighty general and mop guy at Disco Pixel.

Chris Foster:

I've been a game designer, and sometimes producer and programmer, for over twenty years (and fairly competent over the last 10-ish years of that time). I was at Impressions Software LONG ago (after answering a want ad!), then spent at 9 years at Turbine (from Asheron's Call to the core development of The Lord of the Rings Online), and since then I've been at Harmonix. On the side I'm working on an iPad game with my 6-year old son.

Caroline Murphy:

I'm a community organizer & game designer. I entered the games industry via the wide world of ARGs in the late 200x's. From there I've focused on building games of all types. I've designed for everything from mechanics for video games to expansive narrative design for ARGs and LARPs. I am on the Board of Directors for a live action games company called Be Epic, Inc, who specialize in narrative interactive games. I also am a community organizer for Boston Indies, a popular independent games meet-up. I'm a co-founder and current Executive Producer of Boston FIG, the area's largest indie games festival!

Dave Bisceglia:

Dave Bisceglia is the Co-Founder and CEO of The Tap Lab, an Ambassador for TechStars Boston and Mentor at MassChallenge. His focus is in game design, product management and studio operations. He actively contributes to the gaming and startup communities as a guest lecturer at MIT, Harvard and Boston University and speaker at PAX East, Casual Connect, and SXSW. Dave graduated from the Boston University School of Management (Summa Cum Laude) in 2009.

Damian Isla:

I'm a game engineer and designer. My background is mostly in AI, and I started off in the industry as the AI lead on Halo 2 and Halo 3. Apart form some other AAA stints on games like Destiny and Bioshock: Infinite, I was a co-founder of indie studio Moonshot Games (makers of the iOS stealth puzzle game Third Eye Crime) and more recently, The Molasses Flood along with some other great ex-Irrational people. Our first title is a survival roguelike called The Flame in the Flood, a game in which nature finds all kinds of exciting ways to kill you.

Benjamin Cavallari:

I've taught a number of college courses, and before I left teaching, I had the opportunity to teach Game Design. That led me to WB Games in Boston, where I worked on digital platform and product development. Currently a business developmer for Global Mechanic, an AR design firm and with Skreens, a digital display technology startup. Come see our booth next to TwitchTV at PAXEast.


Here is the same post on Reddit.com/r/pax

Business Developer for Skreens - technology that gives you complete control of your display. http://bit.ly/1CHka1P
Business Developer for Global Mechanic - Vancouver based augmented reality/virtual reality design firm
Xavier1216

Posts

  • TonkafriendTonkafriend Registered User regular
    Hi--Looks like an awesome panel. I'd want to know where to start, really. So many job openings have qualifications that require "three shipped titles, minimum." So, If you're just getting started out of college and don't have any shipped titles, how to you get the qualifications? Are self-published games an option? Are they taken seriously by studios? Thanks! Should be an interesting discussion.

  • ARCARC Founder, Business Developer CambridgeRegistered User regular
    That's a great question. I'll address this with the group on Friday, but I'll also state this here:

    One of my students came to me between his Jr/Sr year of college and asked me for help with is project. He wanted someone to do some audio work for a title he was releasing on the FreeSpace mod. He had developed his own game (which I'll show on the panel) and truly set himself above the rest of his peers by actually having something published prior to graduation. There is no greater portfolio piece for a team lead or HR person to see than personally published work -- regardless if it is mobile/social/mods, etc. Any engagement on the professional level in any construct means that you actually do want to be in the industry--enough that you're going to jump in head first and just do it- regardless of where you are at in school.

    Straight out of college he was hired as a Game Designer in western Mass, and his career has gone straight up since then. I'll highlight his path to success on the panel.

    Business Developer for Skreens - technology that gives you complete control of your display. http://bit.ly/1CHka1P
    Business Developer for Global Mechanic - Vancouver based augmented reality/virtual reality design firm
    Gethmiker525Xavier1216Lazorz
  • sarahksarahk Registered User regular
    Hi Benjamin,

    I attended your panel in 2013 (and would recommend it to everyone!) but tried unsuccessfully to get a recording of it afterwards to use with my students back at college. Would it be OK if I placed a small, discreet recorder on the panel table? It adds so much to the student engagement to hear industry veterans talk about their experience...

  • TonkafriendTonkafriend Registered User regular
    Hi, Benjamin! Thanks for taking the time to answer my question in advance of the panel. That's a really inspiring story.

  • ARCARC Founder, Business Developer CambridgeRegistered User regular
    edited February 2015
    SarahK, you have my permission to record anything and distribute it as freely as you can, however, I am not aware of PAX/ReedPop's policy. I will check on that.

    Tonka, yea, his drive was quite impressive, and nobody was surprised when he was picked up over his 40-50 peers (not that the rest of them didn't get positions after graduation, it is just very hard for a student to land a designer role w/o going through a few years of trench work, ie: QA/QC or something similar).

    ARC on
    Business Developer for Skreens - technology that gives you complete control of your display. http://bit.ly/1CHka1P
    Business Developer for Global Mechanic - Vancouver based augmented reality/virtual reality design firm
    sarahk
  • RappakRappak Registered User regular
    How about non coding/technical areas? Must one be a qa before becoming a community manager or maybe something in finance or managerial roles?

  • ARCARC Founder, Business Developer CambridgeRegistered User regular
    edited February 2015
    Rappak, can you flesh that question out a little further; provide some context? Is your background (or area of study/interest) in either online PR/account management or in eFinance/finance or IT?

    To answer your question: No, people are often hired for their specific focus area (eCommerce, community management, online publicity, etc). However, for people who want to be game developers specifically, (as in programming, design, world building, quest building, balance, etc) they usually get a job fixing the bugs in a system before designing new components to the system itself. This was my experience (that I'll note in direct quotes on the panel) from working at a massive company that had hundreds of QA and only a number moved up into the design pits.

    ARC on
    Business Developer for Skreens - technology that gives you complete control of your display. http://bit.ly/1CHka1P
    Business Developer for Global Mechanic - Vancouver based augmented reality/virtual reality design firm
  • hsuhsu Registered User regular
    edited February 2015
    I'm sure highlighting the meteoric rise of a developer makes for a good story, but a driven software developer in pretty much any field does well. Heck, even a mediocre software developer in another field gets paid well, while working normal hours, a situation that the gaming industry is not exactly known for.

    hsu on
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  • ARCARC Founder, Business Developer CambridgeRegistered User regular
    Hsu, that is a very good point. "Developer" is also very different than "CS major" in schools...this will be expanded on, not just for web development, but game development, and the tools of the industry.

    Business Developer for Skreens - technology that gives you complete control of your display. http://bit.ly/1CHka1P
    Business Developer for Global Mechanic - Vancouver based augmented reality/virtual reality design firm
  • RappakRappak Registered User regular
    My specialty is social networking as a poli sci major years ago. Game companies need community managers/event specialists to publicize their games. I don't have any coding or cs backgrounds so I'm wondering if there is a focus on other ways to get into the industry other than through a cs/coding background.

  • ARCARC Founder, Business Developer CambridgeRegistered User regular
    Yes, definitely. I don't have any (professional) CS experience, yet I work tangential to the industry in many ways. Your experience in community dev is the exact reason you'd get hired for that position in this industry. Do everything you can to increase the portfolio/resume pieces you have with that skill set while showcasing your knowledge base in the games industry, and you're stacked well for an interview. The next thing that is good to have is a direct reference, so get to PAX and meet the devs who are working on the titles that you'd like to work for.

    Business Developer for Skreens - technology that gives you complete control of your display. http://bit.ly/1CHka1P
    Business Developer for Global Mechanic - Vancouver based augmented reality/virtual reality design firm
  • RappakRappak Registered User regular
    I think i would like to see an example of what resume pieces you mean for non cs experience. Like events run?

  • ARCARC Founder, Business Developer CambridgeRegistered User regular
    Show/highlight any projects that you've worked on, volunteer experiences, events planned, professional engagements--basically anything that shows that you're already doing what it is that you're attempting to get a paid position to keep doing. If your specialty is social networking, then showcase the social network campaigns you've run and for whom. Get those people to endorse you on LinkedIn. Show how one project led to another, and another, and to where you are now. Show the progression of how your social networking tactics changed as the times changed. Show me that you have a passion for both social networking and an understanding of the games industry. Top it off with a social networking campaign that you've done for a community that you organized in a game-related field or event, show how you'd promote through social networking, or the subtlety that must be used in social networking to suggest that you're not going to just spam forums or use advertising banners and pop-ups, but that organic, true social networking is a more powerful tool than any algorithm that spits out clickbait that everyone hates.

    Even if you've never been paid to do these things, if you want to get into the industry in any professional facet, then the employer needs to see that you already live and breath both the trade you represent (social networking guru) and the game development industry itself.

    Business Developer for Skreens - technology that gives you complete control of your display. http://bit.ly/1CHka1P
    Business Developer for Global Mechanic - Vancouver based augmented reality/virtual reality design firm
    sarahk
  • PlatStratPlatStrat Registered User regular
    edited February 2015
    I've been out of college for over a year where I got my degree in computer science and took several game design and game programming courses. Since then I got hired while still in school by a web development company and I've been working there to gather work experience since I had not had a job prior to school. My question is, what can I do to be better qualified to get a job in the games industry, preferably as a game programmer, short of self publishing a game as I rarely get enough free time as it is let alone enough time to create a game?

    PlatStrat on
  • ARCARC Founder, Business Developer CambridgeRegistered User regular
    @PlatStrat, sorry about the delayed response.

    If you're a web developer, you're in a great position. First off, highlighting any professional work experience -- and that includes volunteer work or non-paid work, is essential. It will be viewed higher than any academic experience that you put on your resume - I don't care how awesome your senior project was. But first, the fact that you have professional experience with a web design company is absolutely huge. It shows your ability to handle tasks, prioritize, know customer feedback and know the importance of polished work.

    I say this because if there is a flaw in your pages, then your boss takes the flak, and they look bad. If that happens, then you're out of a job, simply because only professional-grade work is acceptable (hopefully).

    To answer your question...I will totally ask this of my panelists on Friday night. I hate to be a choad, but I feel that I can only give fluffy answers like "Create some mock web layouts inspired by your favorite games" or stupid shit like that, and I'm more sue that the panelists will have concrete examples and answers.

    I will post the answer here after the Friday panel.

    Business Developer for Skreens - technology that gives you complete control of your display. http://bit.ly/1CHka1P
    Business Developer for Global Mechanic - Vancouver based augmented reality/virtual reality design firm
    PlatStrat
  • PlatStratPlatStrat Registered User regular
    ARC wrote: »
    @PlatStrat, sorry about the delayed response.

    If you're a web developer, you're in a great position. First off, highlighting any professional work experience -- and that includes volunteer work or non-paid work, is essential. It will be viewed higher than any academic experience that you put on your resume - I don't care how awesome your senior project was. But first, the fact that you have professional experience with a web design company is absolutely huge. It shows your ability to handle tasks, prioritize, know customer feedback and know the importance of polished work.

    I say this because if there is a flaw in your pages, then your boss takes the flak, and they look bad. If that happens, then you're out of a job, simply because only professional-grade work is acceptable (hopefully).

    To answer your question...I will totally ask this of my panelists on Friday night. I hate to be a choad, but I feel that I can only give fluffy answers like "Create some mock web layouts inspired by your favorite games" or stupid shit like that, and I'm more sue that the panelists will have concrete examples and answers.

    I will post the answer here after the Friday panel.

    Thanks for the response! I'll be sure to attend the panel!

  • ARCARC Founder, Business Developer CambridgeRegistered User regular
    You can also find me at the Skreens booth, #10061 right next to Twitch/Capcom. I'll be there all 3 days (when I'm not running around the show floor) and would happily talk to anyone who does not have the time to make it to the panel on Friday, or does not have a Friday pass.

    http://i.imgur.com/ZE2hzD9.jpg

    Business Developer for Skreens - technology that gives you complete control of your display. http://bit.ly/1CHka1P
    Business Developer for Global Mechanic - Vancouver based augmented reality/virtual reality design firm
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