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“So You Want To Make Video Games…” Sponsored by the Career Development Center. Press Start to Continue. /40. 40. Jerri Dwyer Angela Williams J. Freer Chris Allen. Special Thanks. Also: Beckye Clark, Gassan Soukaev, and all those in the industry who answered my questions. /40. 39.

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so you want to make video games sponsored by the career development center
“So You Want To Make Video Games…”

Sponsored by the Career Development Center

Press Start to Continue

special thanks



Jerri Dwyer

Angela Williams

J. Freer

Chris Allen

Special Thanks


Beckye Clark, Gassan Soukaev,and all those in the industry who answered my questions





Quentin Rezin

B. A. in Computer Science

Game Developer’s Conference ’04, ’06

Gamer since Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

Favorite games:

Legacy of Kain, Jak II, Oni, Septerra Core

what you will learn



What You Will Learn

How to get a job in the game industry

What a typical day in the industry is like

Where to go for a graduate degree

What you can do right now

major locations



Major Locations

Los Angeles, CA

San Francisco, CA

Seattle, WA

Austin, TX

studio structure



Studio Structure

Small Studio

Large Studio

10~100 employees

Everyone works in teams

Generally a casual work environment

Sometimes a strict hierarchy, sometimes not

publisher vs developer



Publisher vs. Developer

Developer: a company that makes software under contract for a publisher. 1st / 3rd party

Producer: creates the physical products, handles marketing and customer service

Initial idea

Choose developer

Create design document

Budget & schedule

Create prototypes

Greenlight and production

game designer



Game Designer

Level designer, feature designer, AI scripter, interface designer, writer

Writes design documents

Skills and courses: written and oral communication, creative writing, art, history, sciences, literature, music





Engine programmer, tool programmer, AI programmer, technical artist

Writes code

Skills and courses: C, C++, Assembly, Java, trigonometry, calculus, physics

game artist



Game Artist

Concept artist, character modeler or animator, texture or background artist

Creates art assets

Skills and courses: digital painting, sketching, graphic design, 3D modeling or animation

Maya, 3D Studio Max, Photoshop, Flash

sound designer



Sound Designer

Sound designer, sound engineer, composer

Creates sound and music assets

Generally work on multiple projects

Skills and courses: self – educated learn about MIDI, sampling / compression, Sound Forge, sequencers (i.e. Cakewalk), physics, math, formal logic, scripting





HR director, production coordinator, associate producer, marketer

Creates schedules and milestones

Works closely with marketers

Skills and courses: written and oral communication, computer basics, mathematics, foreign languages

quality assurance



Quality Assurance

QA Tester

Creates test plan, manages bug database

Looks for crashes, typos, and other bugs

Skills and courses: mad gaming skillz, written communication, computer basics, follow directions, remain focused

Compatibility testing, customer service

common career paths



Common Career Paths

QA Tester – Designer

Associate Producer – Designer

Technical artist – Graphic or concept artist

Tools programmer – Engine or AI programmer

Focus on one or two complementary skills





Game designers are generally paid less than programmers. The average salary of a male designer is $53k

Females comprise 9% of the design force. The average salary for female designers is $48k

No overtime – only testers get overtime

salaries entry vs lead



Salaries (entry vs. lead)

Thousands of dollars per year

Designer Programmer Artist Animator Producer Tester*

Game Developer’s 4th Annual Salary Survey, 2005

Based on 2,091 responses

a typical day



A Typical Day

Each employee is assigned to a particular project and will have numerous tasks in support of that. A 9- or 10-hour day is not uncommon

Meetings are held as necessary, with one full-company meeting per month. A typical day is 8 hours and is flexible, as long as the employee is present during “core” hours

Interview responses

common misconceptions



Common Misconceptions

First and foremost it is a business

Only 1 in 20 games breaks even, so companies rarely take a chance

“It's hard and it's fun and it's rewarding and it's a pain…” -Feargus Urquhart

Some industry vets hardly have time for playing games outside of work

Interview responses





NOBODY just sits around and plays games all days – not even testers

Crunch periods can last anywhere from two to six months: 80~140 hour weeks 140 / 7 = 20 hours per day

Quality-of-life reforms

Cap’n “Crunch”

Interview responses





It’s been estimated that 1/3rd of entry-level developers burn out before they finish their first game

Companies collapse every year

Don’t let this scare you – just be sure you love making games if you want a career in this industry

Interview responses

getting in



Getting In

The Catch-22

Overcoming the Catch-22 4-year degree or grad school Internships Preparation Persistence

graduate programs



Graduate Programs

Academy of Art University

Al Collins College

Art Center College of Design

The Art Institute of California

The Art Institute of Phoenix

The Art Institute Online

Art Institutes International

Brooks College

Brown College

California Institute of the Arts

Carnegie Mellon

Boston University

Collins College

DeVry University

DigiPen Institute of Technology

Digital Media Arts College

Ex'pression College for Digital Arts

Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy

The Game Institute

The Guildhall at SMU

iD Tech Camps

International Academy of Design & Technology

ITT Tech

John Hopkins University

Keiser College

Miami International University of Art and Design

Minnesota School of Business / Globe College

Platt College

Pratt Institute

San Francisco State University

Sanford-Brown College

The School of Communication Arts

University of Advancing Technology

University of Southern California

Vancouver Institute for Media Arts

Westwood College Campus

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)

questions to ask schools



Questions To Ask Schools

Who sponsors the program?

How long has the program existed?

Placement rate?







Microsoft, Redmond, WA / San Francisco, CA

Electronic Arts, Redwood City, CA / Orlando, FL / Chicago, IL

Buena Vista Games, Glendale, CA

Many smaller companies

Check websites





Play games.

Know your favorites and talk about them

Beta test or write reviews

Build levels in UnrealEd / Half-Life 2

Role-play, read, write, draw





Get a four-year degree

If you can afford a game degree, it can help

Create game assets on your own

Put successful experiments in your portfolio

Artists: find ways to use your skills to earn some money





Game Developers Conference (GDC), March

Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), May

Austin Game Conference, September

gdc tips



GDC Tips





Get names and take notes

Follow up

r sum s




First thing: what job you’re applying for

Put the best stuff at the top

Make sure everything’s relevant to the job

Leave out negative experiences unless you overcame adversity

Write a NEW cover letter for each application

If you have samples, post them online





½ inch, 3-ring binder, sheet protectors

Put the most striking material up front

Just the best material (20 pages max)

Put the material online

Name, address, phone # on the cover

Make a booklet to leave with interviewers





Dress appropriately

Prepare an introduction

Keep the job description in mind

Highlight your relevant skills


Have questions ready

Ask about responsibilities, vacation / sick days

advice from the industry



Advice From The Industry

Be willing to work super hard to prove your worth

Be willing to be on a team in any capacity

Remember that a lot of entry-level positions are not advertised, since there are a lot of people trying to get them

Before the interview, ask what appropriate dress is

Interview responses

advice from the industry1



Advice From The Industry

You can't afford to relax and let your guard down once you get a job. You have to both excel at your job and practice new skills in your spare time to continue building your portfolio

www sloperama com



You can’t get a job via email

If you’re sending a resume by mail, don’t include samples unless you’ve contacted the recipient in advance and asked first

Educate yourself about the company

First and foremost, everyone wants hard- working, capable communicators

www sloperama com1



After the interview:

Send the thank-you letter within 24 hours of the interview. Show your follow-up skills

Write to an individual. If you met multiple individuals, get their business cards so you have proper spellings and job titles

Restate why you are a good candidate

Spell check it




The IGDA is working to improve the quality of life

Works against government censorship / regulation

Developed a curriculum for game schools

Provides GDC scholarships to 25 college students

Special Interest Groups (SIGs) AI, casual games, preservation, indies, mobile, online, sex in games, student, women, writers

useful sites



Useful Sites – development and jobs – game journalists – advice – public betas – public betas

one last thing



One Last Thing

May 5th, 12-4pm

UofA Game Development Club

Annual Game Fair

Ozark Hall, Room 215

(CAST Lab)



Thank you for playing!

Winners don’t do drugs