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Breaking Into the Gaming Business

Posted Thu, Aug 28, 2008 by Medeor

What does it take to break into the gaming industry?

We all want to do it (most of us anyway), but how does someone sitting in a classroom learning about world history find that big break to get into the gaming business? The gaming industry is a $10 billion business, shouldn't there be enough to go around? Alas, as Boomjack says there are ten million people standing in line to get their potential shot at credits on a game. How do people get jobs in the industry?

The fledgling gaming schools and departments in some major colleges are finally starting to gain some traction according to a recent article in Newsweek. The article does include some history of people trying to get cool jobs, so you can even say you are learning something. The article discusses how the first "cool" jobs was writing novels and then it became Hollywood stars, now it's video games. While I would argue that gaming superstars aren't in the same league as Hollywood stars (yet?), it does provide a nice parallel. Here is how one group did get hired (and I like the fact that Valve is a game shop):

"One game shop that grasps the innovative potential of college-trained developers is Seattle's Valve Software, creators of such hit franchises as Half-Life and Counter-Strike. Following a job fair at nearby DigiPen—a university founded in 1988 that's dedicated to game design and production—some Valve employees invited the seven students behind a game called Narbacular Drop to give a demonstration to company founder Gabe Newell. He hired the team on the spot."

I've attended a final project day for a gaming college to review the projects of a group of soon-to-be graduates. It was impressive to see what the graduates had completed, but I didn't get the feeling that gaming execs were beating down their doors with job offers. From the conferences and discussions I've had with developers, the gaming business still appears to be a system where you start at the bottom and work up. While it may not be the minor leagues for the gaming business yet, it may be in the future. Have you attended one of these colleges and had success (or not), do you think it is the "best" or just "one of" the ways to get into the gaming business? Let's discuss.

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