Skills in Games
Jobs in Games
There are a lot of roles within the Games industry, and those employed or hired on a freelance basis are usually hired for a specific specialisation. In a smaller company, it’s common for people to be adept at a lot of aspects of development to allow them to work on whatever is needed. Larger companies will look for specialists in coding, modelling, animation and other production work.
Most of those looking to enter the industry will have a flair for art or coding. However, there are many roles within the industry that don’t require these skills. Producers will be in charge of project management, utilising skills in organisation and planning rather than skills in computers or design (though sometimes they’ll still need to utilise skills in those areas, especially in smaller companies).
There are also writing positions, sometimes known as Narrative Designers, which concentrate on making sure story is considered throughout development. In larger studios, there will be whole departments devoted to Human Resources or Marketing. Smaller studios will still offer roles in studio development or administration, there will just be far fewer on smaller teams.
Getting Into Games
Games Development is one of the fastest growing industries in the UK, and getting into this cutting edge industry requires a lot of talent, perseverance and luck. Most of the workers within the games industry hold an undergraduate qualification, usually in Computer Sciences, Art/Design or a specialist Games course.
While studios will use different software, it’s recommended you familiarise yourself with some game creation software to help prepare you. Examples include Unity or Game Maker Studio. You will also want to research into the locations of studios you want to work with. The majority of games studios are in the South, but there are hubs in Cardiff, Dundee, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Rotherham and Leamington Spa.
A major decision for any creative is whether to take their work freelance or not. Freelancing typically pays more and allows more freedom with your time, but doesn’t offer the stability that traditional employment offers. There’s also other work-place perks, such as pension plans, that freelancers will miss. However, many creatives find it a more desirable way to work.
A recruiter might read hundreds of applications, so when applying you’ll need to make sure your CV is as close to perfect as possible. We have a great guide for writing a CV, but for the games industry it is important to show a passion for Games and the industry.
If you’ve spent three years studying the industry at University level, that shows you have a passion. Or if you’ve got a portfolio of personal projects you’ve created to practice your craft, it shows you have a passion. When it comes to writing a personal statement on your CV, don’t just mention that you enjoy playing games – go into detail about what types of games you like to play and why. It will give employers a better understanding on how much you love the industry.
When a studio hires you, they’re trusting that you carry a love for the craft that will show up positively in your work. Sometimes, the best way is simply to show them in person via a trainee or internship scheme.
Lastly you’ll need a portfolio website to show off your strengths and talents. Make sure to highlight your best work, and give brief descriptions on your processes and involvement with everything you show. Having video of your work in motion is a great way to sell it.
When emailing a studio, it’s worth taking the time to find who your email will be going to. “Dear Sir/Madam” doesn’t show a studio you know them! When emailing companies, do remember that it is a perfectly acceptable practice to email speculatively when there’s no job advertised – if you show you can be a valuable asset, they may keep you on file and contact you in the future.
Working in Games
Games work does not have a consistent work rate for the duration of a project. At the beginning of the project, designers are more creative with their work and take their time perfecting it, but towards the end they reach the “crunch” period. With the deadlines looming and the game still needing work, the staff working on the game will be expected to work a lot of overtime to get the game finished.
This can be a highly stressful period, and anyone caught within a crunch period needs to make time for plenty of breaks, make sure they’re eating healthily and still maintain a social life. A crunch period typically means new staff will be hired and expected to hit the ground running with helping complete the project, which can be daunting for those new to the profession.
When working inside a studio, there is a standard of etiquette that has to be observed at all times. If your role has a direct superior, then all queries and problems should be reported to them rather than a Director or Producer. It’s also expected that everyone remains pleasant to their fellow artists and developers, even during the highly stressful crunch times.
As the industry grows, new technology and trends will begin to emerge. Staying up to date with all the latest news in the industry is vital to working in Games, and can be easily achieved by attending industry workshops and seminars, and following blogs or websites.
No matter what industry you’re working in, it’s always wise to know where to seek legal counsel and aid if required. The Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) represents game developers, but there are other associations such as TIGA or UKIE that also support those working in the Games industry.