Idealpeople Blog: Why is it so hard to get a job in the Games Industry?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Why is it so hard to get a job in the Games Industry?

It's well known throughout the technology world that the games industry is an especially difficult career path to take. For the statisically-minded amongst you, a brief piece of research we've done using one of the major on-line job boards suggests that whilst there's 310 jobs currently being advertised with the word "games" in the title, there's also some 8800 candidates interested in a job in Games. That's some 30 potential candidates per position, on just one of the major job boards.

An e-mail we've had from one jobseeker in the Games industry has shed some light on just what it's like to be a jobseeker in the unfortunate situation of looking for a job in Games. Here's the bulk of it:

Sometimes companies think the work's not up to scratch, but I find that difficult to believe after applying for a CG Generalist's position in acommercials studio in Toronto and being offered freelance work by the owner. The only reason I didn't take it was I lacked the 2 yrs. production experience neccesary to go over to Canada to work.

I'm not perfect, but I am employable.

Then there's nepotism. A Trainee Artist's position in an Architect's studio I chased for weeks came to an end when the recruitng agency told me in a depressed tone that the owner ended up hiring someone he already knew over somenone he didn't, wasting everyone else's time in the process.

A brick over the head is the only response to such moronic behaviour.

Once you're done with that, there's the classic, "Your work's great, but we're looking for someone with commercial experience." To which you reply," How I am going to get any experience unless someone gives me a job?" This happened today when I applied to an events agency which wanted an arm and a leg in terms of skills for a 3D Designer's position.

And I had them, but not the commercial experience to get the job.

And finally, the worst scenario of all. Someone more experienced than you gets the job. I applied for a Graphic Technician's job in an automotive company applying texture maps to basic moulds (easy peasy and full time with a very good salary) but lost out to a guy after my interview with slighty more experience than myself.

Plain bad luck.

Sometimes, the powers that be can be finicky, fussy, corrupt, and just plain unfair.

But there is a plus to this. I'm starting work next week as a Matchmove Artist on a short Horror film for 3 weeks. At the same time- job hunting.

So things are happening. Just painfully and slowly.

I do need a job- right now and in 3 weeks time. £55 a week not being enough to live on whilst on the dole.

I am employable, I am skilled and I am getting work.

Lady luck I think, just needs to wave her magic wand.

It's our guess that almost anyone who has been in the situation of trying to "break" into an industry that they really, really want to work in has been faced with similar problems. So what advice can we give? Well, we can't wave the magic wand that appears to be needed, but we can suggest the following:

1) Get your showreel (or portfolio, or even your CV for non-graphical/art-based positions) on-line. Savvy recruiters, the ones being bombarded by the same candidates via the jobsites over and over again, will find it. It also means that you can get examples of your work over to potential employers quickly. Publicise your showreel, even do some SEO work on it.

2) For would-be animators out there, think carefully about the content of your showreel. Feedback from the industry suggests that companies are interested in Animation examples which are harder to pull off, such as lifting/pushing heavy objects and realistic walk & run cycles. Try and keep examples to things which show animation as close to real life as possible.

3) Work Experience. Even getting work experience can be tricky, but it's such a powerful tool that it's worth writing to every potential employer and asking to do some voluntary work.

4) Personal projects: Keep working, keep creating and publicise your work as much as possible.

5) Think outside of the box. Don't rely on the on-line job-boards to get you a new position: this is the most obvious job-hunting tool available, so if it's all you're using, then it's probably what everyone is using as their first port-of-call. Don't assume that companies won't hire you because the job pages on their site are empty.

We have a specialist Games division over here at Idealpeople, so feel free to get in touch with any specfic queries or requests for advice. Happy hunting!

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