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Working in the Video Game Industry - How to get started

By Edited Nov 3, 2015 0 1

If you are still not intimidated by working in the video game industry after watching this video...

then keep reading!!!

We've all had that moment before, when we just buy a fresh new game from the store, can't wait to boot it up in the counsel and get immersed into a whole new world. For many of us, video games have been a positive part of our lives for well... most of our lives. Some gamers are happy just playing video games, but maybe you have been considering taking your interest in the video game industry to the next level. If you're serious about taking this route, it'll be an amazing adventure for you that will be extremely competitive and be littered with obstacles. If you're still reading,  there are multiple ways to break into the gaming industry but there are a few things you must know when you're getting started.

Narrow down to two areas in the gaming pipeline you'd like to work in

Research and figure out what you'd like to specialize in early on. A "pipeline" is a term used when talking about the technical process of how a product is produced. Although there are many different types of gaming pipelines, there are specialized people who work only on certain parts of the game. To be extremely general, there is an Art side, then a Programming side, not even including the marketing and budgetary areas. Usually those wanting to work in the video game industry want to be a part of the artistic side of it in hopes of creating characters, environments, and stories. For example, if you enjoy making characters, maybe you'd like to specialize in 3d character modeling and model texturing. Other areas include conceptual art illustration, character and creature animation, rigging, scene lighting, and beyond. 

Get familiar with what programs and tools are used in the gaming industry

Many video games of today operate in a 3d environment, and you will have to learn how to be proficient with the studio's gaming engine of choice and 3d modeling software. Game engines are the platform on which the games are made. 3D assets are made in programs outside of the gaming engine and then imported in to start making the game. A popular 3d modeling software is Autodesk 3ds max, which is commonly used for creating 3d game assets. For many current generation games today, many characters and environments have a stunning amount of detail and realism. A digital sculpting program, Pixologic Zbrush is used to sculpt in fine details onto low poly 3d meshes and export out in the form of normal maps, bump maps, and more. The types of programs used greatly vary from studio to studio, as do the preferred gaming engines. Unity, Unreal, CryEngine, Orange box, are just a few game engines in the video game industry that are used by AAA studios and independent game studios alike.

Even if you're interested in the artistic side, learn some programming

Learning a programming language not only will make you more versatile and hire-able, but it will help you to think more on a technical level. Working in the video game industry means you will often be on tight deadlines to get projects done, and the ability to make custom plugins, settings, and menus to work inside of your programs is a highly sought after trait. Many jobs listings in the gaming industry state that you must be proficient in the programming language, C++, even if you are applying for a 3D character animation position. There are plenty of resources and tutorials online to help you get started on learning C++. Also, keep in mind that the programming languages vary per program. Many of the software used in the gaming industry have their very own scripting language, but are often just based on the traditional languages like JavaScript and C++. Many game engines and 3d asset creation software often incorporate Python scripting for further customization. Once you learn one type of programming, similar principles apply to others and it is easier to learn another coding language from there. Don't be intimidated!

Network and Research

One of the most powerful ways to get into the video game industry is based on who you know. A great way to get started is by checking on local group sites such as Meetup, where you can meet and discuss similar interests in person. This way, you can start making new friends and professional contacts who are already in the field. Oftentimes, many gaming interest groups hold workshops such as "importing your 3d character into Unity" or something similarly related, so you can also learn something beneficial while you network.  On a larger scale, GDC (Game Developers Conference) is a large yearly event that brings in gaming industry professionals in large amounts. It is very friendly to beginners and professionals and should definitely be on any game industry novice's networking list. If you are not exactly a "people person," there are plenty of forum communities that are specific to video game creation. GameArtisans.com is very popular to see high quality work, network, and get critique on your own work.

Have a Demo reel and Professional art portfolio online

Let's say you are very comfortable with your skills and are ready to market yourself to the world. Have an easy to remember website domain name with your BEST work on it. Show and briefly explain the process of how you did it by taking screen shots. What will really sell yourself is by having a demo reel of your work. ALWAYS have your contact information and what type of pipeline skill you specialize in be the first thing your gaming demo reel shows. There are many ways to get your video game demo reel thrown into the trash, so make sure to do extensive research on what should look great and appropriate for which part in the pipeline you're specializing in. 

Conclusion

Working in the video game industry is not all fun and games, no pun intended. But, it can be extremely rewarding if you are great at problem solving, competitive, and don't mind working in a very fast paced environment. Remember to get familiar with the software that is often used in the video game industry and the many different game engines. Networking with local, online, and national video game industry groups will greatly boost your existence to others who are in the field. Your skills are the best thing you can show when you are attempting to get hired at a video game studio, so always work towards improving your work and learning as much as you can. 

It may be tough getting started when you're interested in working in the video game industry, but research is key! It all depends on your motivation as an individual. Don't give up and make sure to network!

Happy game making!
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Comments

Apr 8, 2012 9:56pm
Introspective
Good information for anyone looking to work in the video game industry.
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