Making video games for a living is a dream for many. The demand to secure a job in a game studio is quite high and as a result it can be difficult to enter the game industry, especially if you do not have a good network. A couple of decades ago, the game industry was very small and there was no real formal educational path to it. Today, many universities offer videogame-related courses and degrees. The upside is that students are better prepared for a career in the game industry. The downside is that they are legion.
Given my background in user experience (UX) applied to video game development, I’m often asked how to get a job in the game industry, mostly from students and UX practitioners who want to transition into the game industry. I’ve been advocating for UX even before it was called that way in the game industry, first at Ubisoft (in France and Canada) in 2008-2011. Later on, I put together UX teams at LucasArts, and Epic Games (until 2017 when I started to work independently). From my experience hiring UX folks, I’m offering here my humble advice for getting a job in the game industry. Here’s the content:
Videogames are one of the most popular forms of recreation in the world and they will generate over 150 billion US dollars in 2019, yet they often generate terrible press. For example, some games are accused of making players violent, or to turning them into addicts. I’ve been in the videogame industry for over 10 years and the latest game I’ve worked on (as director of user experience at Epic Games until I left on October 2017), Fortnite, is played by about 250 million players. It’s also under scrutiny by many concerned parents who fear that the game might have some negative impact on their children. Some parents have been reporting, for example, that their children play Fortnite at the expense of their education, health, or even personal hygiene. It saddens me that videogames can have a negative impact on some people’s lives but I’m also frustrated by the fearmongering I’ve been witnessing, most of it with no solid scientific ground. This fearmongering — and sometimes even scapegoating — around videogames can distract the public and lawmakers from identifying and addressing the real potential of videogame play, and tech in general. As a result the game industry is often defensive when responding to the horrible things it’s accused of, which is understandable but fails to build a constructive dialog. We, videogame developers (i.e. all the professionals participating in crafting a game), have a responsibility as content providers to foster this dialog.
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