productive target

How to get noticed in the video game industry

Are you trying to get noticed in the video game industry? I get a fair number of random people reaching out to see if we’re taking interns or hiring at Liftlock Studios (the game studio I founded in 2016). Rather than repeating myself over and over and over again, I thought I would take a moment and just outline some thoughts in one place that I can then direct people too.

Feel free to drop a comment and add in anything you feel i’ve missed or to start a conversation.

The video game industry is looking for people with 3 specific traits:

  1. Smart People; i.e. people with uncommon sense (because really it’s not common).
  2. People who ‘get shit done’.
  3. People that are passionate about this industry.

Above and beyond these is the hope that you’re already ‘T’ shaped. Especially if you’re just starting out or a recent college grad.

That means you have a solid understanding of the end to end process of making games (the top horizontal bar of the letter T).  And somewhere along that journey, you’ve found something that resonates with you. Something that you’re doing a deep dive into  (the center vertical bar on the letter T). It could be concept art, level progression, shader development, AI systems, character design, storytelling, audio engineering or something else. The ‘thing’ isn’t whats important, what IS important is that you’ve found the parts that call to you and you’re taking action learning them.


The 10,000 hour rule.

In addition to being ‘T’ shaped, smart, a do-er, and passionate. You need a side project. What are you spending your nights and weekends working on? What gets you up in the early hours to put in 30 min to two hours a day that you’re doing for your own enjoyment and to ‘hone your craft’?

The industry is fast paced and constantly changing, the learning never ends, you don’t ever ‘arrive’ somewhere. The journey itself is the joy. All the ups and downs, all the little wins and big setbacks. Hopefully you understand this. Hopefully you’re used to tossing out code and prototypes, hopefully you’re not emotionally tied to the work in a way that holds you back.

It takes 10,000 hours to become an ‘expert’ at something (so say the influencers). You need to spend that time taking action, suffering setbacks and figuring out how to overcome the problems. All while you’re looking for work, building your portfolio up and taking crappy gigs to put food on your table.


Speaking of your portfolio …

Does it suck? I bet you haven’t put the work into it that it actually deserves. This is doubly true if you’re not having any luck getting a callback or response to applying at studios. Question. If you’re deep diving into environment art but your portfolio has characters you’ve created, modelled, rigged and animated right at the top of your portfolio. What do you think you’re saying to the person viewing it?

The same is true if you’re a ‘developer’ but you haven’t taken the time to optimize your portfolio for mobile viewing or have poorly formatted code. Because I look at your source code and if it’s not clean, why would I want you working on games with me?

Do NOT ask your friends or family to give you feedback on your portfolio, they don’t want to hurt your feelings and they aren’t going to tell you it sucks. You special little snowflake. Join a group on facebook, go to a meetup, talk to your peers.

Your portfolio exists to showcase your ability, its not an Instagram or Pinterest account. Go get a free WordPress account if you need too. Make your portfolio representative of who you are, what you’ve done, what you’re capable of and where you’re headed.