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100 Questions: I need them

March 31, 2008

I’m wrapping up a lecture and stand-up comedy-ish presentation for the upcoming Game Developers eXchange in Atlanta on April 10-11. Here’s the deal:

100 Questions, 97 Answers, 56 Minutes (on 300 Slides)

Students hoping to enter the industry have a lot of questions. What should be in my portfolio? How do you make contacts? How much do you make? What should I wear to the interview? In this fast-paced and entertaining lecture, SCAD professor and game industry veteran Brenda Brathwaite answers these questions and many, many more.

If you could ask any question you wanted to, what would it be? Feel free to email me if you’d rather not post your question live. When I’m finished with the presentation, I’ll post it online.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. March 31, 2008 7:56 am

    Typically what do entry-level videogame programmers do in their first few months? And what kind of mentoring or training might they get, or is it usually being thrown in the deep end?

    (There might be better ways of phrasing them).

    While I trust most of my programming skill, I’m not up on my C++, so if I do plunge in, I want to know just how much I should teach myself πŸ˜‰ – the questions also something I’ve not seen mentioned often, since it’s more obvious what artists and designers can do.

    I think most things I’ve seen tend towards saying “You’ll be familiarising yourself with the project code, will have your code checked (with or without a director supervisor I think) and work generally with someone else on stuff”, but nothing is ever strictly true or entirely typical, so it’d be nice to know.

    Actually, it might not be obvious what artists and designers do either – maybe a genral “What should I expect during your first few months?” is a different question – since it’d be interesting to be given a comment about the workload πŸ˜‰

  2. March 31, 2008 11:51 am

    How much personal experience should you have (your own projects, modding, etc, considering you have techincal experience) before you should start looking for a job as a general designer?

    There are a lot of questions you can answer, and you should probably cover a few of the standard ones that are answered by Darius Kazemi’s articles or have already been answered on your blog, but I’d say the people who are reading this blog probably have read both, or will soon. This may apply to the people at the lecture.

    I like the portfolio question too.

  3. March 31, 2008 7:47 pm

    I have a few.

    * If you come in during the middle of the project, what’s the best way to get up to speed on the design standpoint, or even code base?

    * Is it better to be a generalist in the short term or long term? Or should a person concentrate on a core topic of interest throughout?

    * If your not up to speed with game development skill, would you consider staying in school/earning your Masters or working in the software industry?

    * How is performance measured for raises?

    * Have you ever seen a game company promote independent projects outside of the core project among employees?

    * This one is personal. Have you ever seen somebody, personally, make it within the game industry with a learning disability? I could use a success story. πŸ™‚

    * Would Barack, or Hillary, be better for game development? >;)

    * Does the current state of the economy have a real hardship on game development progression and hiring?

    * Dr. Pepper or Coke?

    * Do small studios typically have health, dental, and savings plans?

    OK, I’ll stop there. If I think of anything else, I’ll be back.

    Sounds fun! Good luck with this!

  4. March 31, 2008 8:18 pm

    Hi Brenda – As a student, I thought your piece in the game’s career guide was excellent.
    Some question I have are for getting a job within the design department, arguably the most difficult and least defined position.
    -What is the best approach towards getting an internship? Emailing studio devs, contacting HR, or getting a connection (even if it is minor.)
    -How much weight do studios put on GPAs? The college attended? The major chosen?
    -How much weight do studios put on the demo? Should a demo demonstrate a new idea (even at the risk of lower quality?) vs. making a less innovative, but higher quality demo.
    -How do you write a really, really good cover letter; one that really connects with the HR department and/or devs; what are they looking for?
    -What is the best way to network with someone from a studio you are interested in working at, if you see them, for example, at the gdc?

  5. March 31, 2008 8:21 pm

    I’ve spent hours having some of the best and worst times of my life in front of a keyboard at code making games that in complete honesty aren’t that fun to play.

    But that doesn’t matter. They’re all on my site, and nobody’s playing it.

    1> How do I get my stuff out there so that someone can see it? How do I make it matter? The site is there, and the games are there, and not a soul cares.

    2> How do I get the games to… be more fun, and not just tasks?

    3> I’m aiming for a career as a programmer in the industry, and I’ve not even started on my CS degree! Yet I’m trying to make games. It’s not possible to start working at it too early, is it?

    4> Is there any way I can get a feel for what working in the industry might be like before ever actually getting there?

  6. April 1, 2008 6:01 am

    Wow. These are great questions! Thanks, guys.

  7. April 2, 2008 1:21 am

    There are some great questions already asked, but if I come up with any I will definitely post. I would have to say the one on my mind right now is:

    How early should I show up for an interview, and if I get there too early what should I do?

    This seems simple enough, but we have had interviewees show up almost 3 hours early…. We have very close runner ups too. πŸ˜€

  8. Chris permalink
    April 5, 2008 10:01 pm

    Okay, after thinking for a while, here are some questions I would like to have answered.

    (1) In your academic opinion, what games stand out for their unique interactive components and why?

    (2) There is a budding market for books on game design and development. Which would you recommend to people who want to put emphasis on game design?

    (2a) If one takes a non-videogame degree (CS, Computer Engineering, Art, Graphics, etc.), how much help will videogame literature help them in obtaining a job in the game industry?

    (3) The word “ludology” means “the study of games”, correct? Would it be feasible to suggest that in the future one could major in or take a master’s/PhD in ludology at college?

    (4) There is a small set of people who act as “agents” to videogame designers. Is that a practical approach when seeking a job as a game designer/developer?

    (5) There is plenty of literature for job hunting out there in the world. Sometimes it can become a part-time job just hunting for work! How does job hunting in the videogame industry differ from hunting for non-videogame work?

    (6) A lot of countries are now offering tax breaks for videogame development companies. Is this something to be considered when job hunting?

    (7) How much is being done by the videogame industry and the IGDA to promote a positive image of videogames?

    (8) What are some of the trends you are detecting in the industry? Consumer trends, company trends, design trends, etc.

    (9) The concept of “breaking the 4th wall” in videogames is a taboo of sorts. It’s pretty rare to find games which admit that they are games. For example, Earthbound (Mother 2) and Metal Gear Solid. Shouldn’t companies and individuals begin looking at the 4th wall differently?

    (10) Tim Rogers wrote an excellent review of Earthbound which begged the question (warning: there are huge spoilers, not story related but spoilers in general): can interactivity in games provide fun and a unique message? Is it not worthwhile to pursue the meanings behind these messages, if they exist?

    My questions aren’t so much about getting a job in the industry. I’m not as concerned about that as I am the content in the games. A lot of content is being generated on getting into the game industry, but not as much content being generated on how to develop games themselves. I’m not saying there’s a right or wrong way to make games, but I don’t think we’ve pushed the videogame as far as it can go…

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