Got kids who want to work in games development? Read on…
Just wanted to get some thoughts down as today our thoughts might turn to parenting and also my thoughts have been on recruitment of late too. So I’m a games developer and I’ve made my living making games for the last (almost) couple of decades. I’ve been an employee meaning I’ve had to get that job and running small studios has meant I’ve sat on the other side of the desk too; So over the years I’ve received many, many emails from people looking for work experience and a job. I’ve read though many, many CVs and I’ve conducted many interviews. I get asked sometimes how a young person still at school can not only get to the point of getting an interview but also get a job doing the thing they love. So here’s my advice for kids still in school (and parents to chat with them about it)…
- Try hard at school. Yup; this is key (good news, parents!) you might be thinking but what does English comprehension or geography have to do with making games? Just let me play Minecraft! Hang on, the answer is a lot. Making games is hard work. It’s a complex ever-changing field and the people I work with are smart and dedicated. They are good learners because they need to continue learning. The ability to apply yourself, to concentrate on a task, to take in new knowledge is essential. The best, best place to learn how to learn is school and then keep that habit going!
- Maths (or math if you’re reading this from the US!). Yup, maths. When I was in school I remember doing trigonometry and the teacher said that while we needed to know this for the exam, we’d probably never use it. He was wrong. The basis of 3D graphics is polygons and the basis of those is triangles. The maths of how triangles work underpins all of our work in making games. But the need to get on with maths does not end there; game art is very technical as well as creative, game design means you need to understand and create the stats of the game and the systems that they use, game production relies on analytics to guide development and more. I’m not saying you need to be a genius at maths but you need to see, at the very least, maths as your friend.
- Effort matters not ideas. Yup. Don’t think ‘I’m good at idea, so I’m going to be good at making games’. Ideas are step one. The easy bit. I’m surrounded by people each working day fizzing with ideas, we have too many we know what do with. What matters is the ability to take those ideas, to forge them with knowledge and skill and temper them with effort and teamwork into something really valuable; a game. Like anything in life being good a something is not innate, it comes from hard work.
- Don’t just play games. Be into other things. Yup, while I do look for a passion for games when I do interviews, I’m also interested in people who have interests and experiences from outside games. Many of the best ideas for games come from inspiration and/or experience from other areas merged into games development. If all you know is Call of Duty then you’re going to be good at making a Call of Duty game. But we’ve got several Call of Duty games already; players want new and interesting takes on things. I’m interested in people who are omnivorous in their interests; so love science, reading, films, music, nature, sport, cats… whatever floats your boat. Just don’t fill it only with games. Examples – being inspired by science or using a bad thing in your life as a source of ideas for a game.
- Get on with people. Why? Making games is almost always a very collaborate process. You’ll be working in tightly knit teams often under intense creative pressure. It’s great fun, I still all this time late love that feeling of a well oiled team making it work. But that means being a good communicator, being open to other people’s idea, being a good team made. Being ‘good’ at social, like everything else takes practice. When you’re in school making that effort to talking to people, to get out of your comfort zone making friends and all that; invaluable.
Hope that helps! Feel free to tweet me any thoughts and/or questions. If you want to know what we’re working on, stick your email in here. If making games if your dream, I hope to one day bump into you at E3, Develop or Gamescom and chat. I’d love to be playing your game and thinking, ‘wow, amazing game, wish I’d been on that team!’