Inside the Game Industry: Make Your Dreams Come True – Part Four

Tips and advice about getting into the game industry from pros is hard to come by so don’t miss out as Dalmarus concludes his tale.
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class="MsoNoSpacing">Eric
“Dalmarus” Campbell has been a deliverer of
dentures, a U.S. Marine, a security guard, an IT specialist, and a
writer. He has also worked for a few game industry heavyweights you may
have heard of – Blizzard, BioWare, and ArenaNet. Tune
in as he tells his tale and provides numerous tips from an
insider’s perspective on what it takes to make it in the game
industry. 




As I stated in href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/inside-the-game-industry/make-your-dreams-come-true-pt3">part
three of this series, working as
a Game Master at Blizzard may not have
been my dream job, but it was the final piece of the puzzle I needed to
get a
job I had quite literally been dreaming about for years. Before working
at
Blizzard, I very rarely received anything more than a cursory phone
call from
prospective companies in the industry. As I would soon discover, that
was all
about to change.

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class="MsoNoSpacing"> style="font-weight: bold;">Rule
# 10 – style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">Never
underestimate the power of a big
company name on your resume.

A
few months after I started working at Blizzard, I
applied for a Community Manager position with Heatwave Interactive. They had
recently
purchased the rights to Gods & Heroes. Remember how this
journey began with
that game in href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/inside-the-game-industry/make-your-dreams-come-true-pt1">part
one? I thought the cosmic circle
was now going to complete itself and nearly
died of shock when I got a phone call less than 24 hours after
applying. The
phone interview went very well (they were far more enthused about
talking to me
than I had found normal from my previous industry calls) and a Skype
interview
was scheduled. After talking with them for an hour, I was extremely
excited! 

Little
did I know at the time that I didn’t have a clue
what a Community Manager of a game company would be doing on a daily
basis. My
answer for the question of “Walk me through what you think a
typical day would
look like” was horrible (I obviously didn’t know
this then). Although they were
polite, I found out shortly that I had bombed the interview and they
were not
interested in bringing me on. I was crushed. After getting the news, I
had a
choice to make. I could either take it as a sign I wasn’t
meant to work in this
field, or I could try again. 

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class="MsoNoSpacing"> style="font-weight: bold;">Rule
# 11 – style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">You
ARE going to sometimes fail. You ARE
going to sometimes be turned down. If you really want to work in this
industry,
you’ll get back up and improve. 

Getting
the news that I hadn’t made it after getting to
the final two may have crushed my heart, but due to a bit of a
personality
issue I’ve since mellowed out, it also pissed me the hell
off. The key with
being ticked off in this field (or any line of work, really) is to
focus that
anger into something useful and that’s exactly what I did. If
I wasn’t good
enough, I wanted to see who was. That person turned out to be Donna
Prior. I
didn’t know it at the time, but she was (and still is) a very
hardworking and
capable community professional that inadvertently helped me get my job
at
BioWare. Once I found out who got the job, I went looking to see what
experience she had that I didn’t. 

It
didn’t take long to find out that Donna had just come
from working a year with BioWare. As luck would have it, they had a
number of
forum moderation jobs open. They also had a Community Coordinator
position open
in Austin, so I applied for both. Again, thanks in large part to having
the
name of Blizzard on my resume, I was called almost immediately. After a
semi-grueling series of phone and in-person interviews, I got a call
one day
letting me know the Community Coordinator gig was mine if I wanted. To
this
day, that moment marks one of the greatest moments of my entire life.
It may
have been the Blizzard name that got me the first interview, but it was
the
years of community experience I’d gotten while with Ten Ton
Hammer that finally
landed me my dream job.

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class="MsoNoSpacing"> style="font-weight: bold;">Rule
# 12 – style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">Never
hesitate to draw on all your previous
experiences in life, even if they don’t seem directly related
to the job you
get. 

Rule
# 12 may sound like an odd thing to say, but as my
first week on the job would prove, it can save your ass. Less than 5
days after
I started, the person I was hired to assist left the company. All of a
sudden,
I found my position in jeopardy and quickly needed to find a team role
to fill.
Enter the forum complaint inbox that I discovered had been largely
ignored for some
time.  I
had over a decade of customer
experience and almost three years of community management experience
dealing
with gamers. I threw myself into the role of arbitrator and resolution
finder
and it worked like a charm. The other team members quickly made me feel
like a
part of the gang. 

For
the next year and a half, I attacked every job I was
given with gusto. Each day there was a privilege and I never let myself
forget
it. While I won’t make it a rule, I suggest you do the same
because if there’s
one thing that’s certain, it’s that this industry
is volatile and you can find
yourself needing a new job in a hurry. This leads me to the final rule
in this
series.

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class="MsoNoSpacing"> style="font-weight: bold;">Rule
#13 – style="font-style: italic; font-weight: bold;">NEVER
BURN A PROFESSIONAL BRIDGE… EVER! 

If
you manage to make your way to the inside of this
awesome industry, there is one fact you’re going to find out
very quickly –
everyone knows everyone somehow. Any person that has worked on a title
of any
significance can be used as a replacement for Kevin Bacon if the sought
connection is with another member of the industry. Do not speak badly
about
employees of other companies. Do not speak badly about any employee at
the
company you find yourself currently working for. It takes a special
type of
person to make it in this industry and as a result, we all come
together when
the layoff monster makes its regular rounds through a company. The
bridge you
burn now may keep you from finding new work in the future. 

A
lot of work you’ll find is contract with a chance to
convert to regular employee. As such, it’s not uncommon to
find very talented
and dedicated people that have worked for 3 different companies in as
many
years. This means while you’re with a company, you need to
bust your ass
continually to prove how useful and helpful you are. It will mean the
world of
difference when it’s your time to go. I found this out after
I got caught in
the second round of layoffs BioWare had after the release of Star Wars:
The Old
Republic. It was the friendships I had made combined with the
dedication to my
work that allowed me to get a job shortly afterwards with ArenaNet
after one
written test and a couple of phone calls. 

There’s
no other industry I’d want to work in. It has its
ups and downs like any, but the people you’ll meet and work
with are
incredible. Working in an environment where everyone desperately wants
to be
there and loves their job is indescribable. Before I end this final
piece of
the series, let me leave you with a few more pieces of advice:

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  • Never
    say no when someone asks for a volunteer. I don’t
    care who or what it is.
  • Never
    be afraid to take a risk. I was told by some that
    leaving a regular employment gig with Blizzard for a contract job with
    BioWare was
    stupid. I beg to differ. It was the best thing I ever did.
  • Believe
    in yourself and your abilities. If you don’t,
    nobody else is going to bother doing it either.
  • As
    often as you can (especially as a new-hire), be the
    first person in and one of the last to leave. Don’t be that
    person that’s
    always trying to go home as soon as possible.
  • When
    time allows, go out to lunch with members of
    different teams. Building out-of-work relations with them will prove
    amazingly
    useful when it comes time to involve those teams in future projects.
  • As
    long as you don’t allow your own responsibilities to
    slack off, do as much cross-training as managers will allow.
  • Always
    look for ways to help your fellow employees.
    Always! The payoff for clearly being a team player cannot be
    underestimated.
  • And
    finally, HAVE FUN! You work for a company making
    video games! 

Have
questions about anything I’ve posted in here, or any
other gaming topic? Feel free to href="https://twitter.com/Dalmarus">hit me
up on Twitter any time!

 


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