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LAFS SVI Level 10 - Managing Your Career


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Lecture for Level 10 of The Los Angeles Film School's Survey of the Videogame Industry course.

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LAFS SVI Level 10 - Managing Your Career

  1. 1. Lecture 10 David Mullich Survey of the Videogame Industry The Los Angeles Film School
  2. 2. READ DAILY Current events will impact your work one way or another. Know what they are. Strive to understand the world and use that understanding to make your games more interesting, accurate, insightful or challenging. A myopic world view limits creativity.
  3. 3. Networking Most games jobs are filled based on recommendations through friends or friends of friends. The more people you know in the game industry, the better chances you have about hearing about job opportunities.
  4. 4. Professional Groups  IGDA/LA    Student Membership: $30  Blacks in Gaming    Women in Gaming International (WIGI) 
  5. 5. Additional Networking  LAFS Game Production Facebook group  LAFS Alumni Association   
  6. 6. Go to IndieCade!  October 22-25, 2015  Culver City 
  7. 7. Go to GDC!  March 14 - March 18, 2016  Moscone Center, San Francisco 
  8. 8. Your First GDC  You will be overwhelmed  You will be awkward  You will feel left out  Enjoy the company of the people you’re with  Take it slow  Realize that GDC is a temporary high
  9. 9. Networking at GDC How to Network at a Conference - Rated E (5:43)
  10. 10. Go to E3!  June 14-16, 2015  Los Angeles Convention Center 
  11. 11. Electronic Entertainment Expo G4 Icons Episode #27: History of E3 (20:59)
  12. 12. Other Conferences  LA Games Conference (Los Angeles)  ComicCon (San Diego)  Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) (San Antonio)  Serious Play Conference (Los Angeles)  ACM SIGgraph Conference on Motion In Games (Los Angeles)  SXSW Gaming Expo (Austin)
  13. 13. Volunteer!  Great networking opportunities  Looks great on your resume
  14. 14. Advice From An Intern  It’s a small world, after all  Don’t go for a big splash  Fixers, not moaners  Cultivate mentorships  Don’t watch TV during working hours  Open yourself to opportunities  There’s more to life than videogames
  15. 15. Global Game Jam Global Game Jam 2013 Keynote (11:43)
  16. 16. Social Media Presence  LinkedIn  Face Book  Google Plus  Twitter  Newsletters  Blogging  About.Me  Pinterest  YouTube  Instagram
  17. 17. Manage Your Public Profile Prospective employers will Google you. What will they find? While it is not possible to completely control your Google results, you can help yourself by keeping your personal and professional life separate. Use privacy settings on your Facebook pages and picture tags by friends, and keep your Twitter trail professional or make it anonymous. Never use your personal social network profile as a portfolio: No‐one wants to trawl through embarrassing nightclub photos of you while searching for your work.
  18. 18. How To Get A Job In The Game Industry How to Get a Job in Video Games - Gaming Jobs - Tips from the Game Industry (10:34)
  19. 19. Read Job Listings Regularly  Who’s hiring  What qualifications are needed  What portfolio pieces / software is desired
  20. 20. Job boards  You can find many jobs through specialty job search sites.       And, yes, Craigs List
  21. 21. Basic Terminology You really should know this: Q&A: Questions and answers QA: Quality Assurance
  22. 22. Quality Assurance A completely viable way to get your foot in the door in a games company. But be aware that not all companies have a path to dev from QA. Ask first.
  23. 23. Look Beyond Indie and AAA  AdvertGames  Educational Games  Serious Games  Kid’s Games  Gambling Games
  24. 24. Be Open Minded All games are valid games to work on. You can learn just as much working on an advergame for cats as you can on the latest bazillion $ mega‐title. Each title shipped is one step closer to your ultimate goal of dream‐game awesomeness. If an advergame for cats is your dream‐game, then congratulations, you’re going to achieve your dreams much quicker than most. Also think of the LOLcat opportunities during user testing! People get PAID for doing this!
  25. 25. Recruiters  Digital Artist Management  Premiere Search  Prime Candidate   Individual agents
  26. 26. Recruiters Don’t Get YOU Jobs  They’re paid by companies to fill open positions  They’re paid by those companies based on a percentage of your starting salary  They often hear of job openings that aren’t listed on job sites
  27. 27. When Are Recruiters Useful?  > $55,000 / year  (Producers, but not APs)  When you have specific skills  Code Languages  Art Specialties  Animation Specialties
  28. 28. Resume Disclaimer *The following material is the opinion of the instructor based on his years of experience as a hiring manager and resume reader. These opinions may not reflect the stated policy of LAFS or its professional career counselors.
  29. 29. Resume DOs  Permanent e-mail address (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc.)  Reverse chronological order  Describe accomplishments  List skills (software tools, programming languages, etc.)  Link to your portfolio site  Keep to one page (early career)
  30. 30. Gameography  List of every game you’ve worked on  Reverse order (newest first)  List platform(s)  Update always
  31. 31. Proofread Your Resume! Everyone loves creativity by typo. “You can customise your character with scaring.” “To scare your character, press DELETE! Trololol!” laugh the developers at your job application.
  32. 32. Resume DON’Ts  List your hobbies  Include a picture of yourself  Include a career objective (unless tailored for the job you are applying for)  Include so much detail that you lose the story
  33. 33. Resume Sites     (newsletter)
  34. 34. Reference List  Minimum of three people who know you professionally and who will vouch for you  Bosses better than co-workers  Co-workers are fine  Internship supervisors  Instructors  Keep this list up to date throughout your career
  35. 35. Create a Portfolio Site!  Art  Programming  Design  Gameography w/ pictures / screenshots .
  36. 36. Portfolios Share your content with potential employers. That’s how communities work. Trust me: No‐one is going to steal content from your mailed portfolio, and good practice belongs to everyone. Stealing the work of others is the mark of an amateur. No professional would ever stoop that low. For shame!
  37. 37. Portfolios Know where you’re aiming your efforts at any given time. Ideally it should be here.
  38. 38. Portfolios But you should aim here if you are nearing the job interview stage. Especially as your interviewer may not have a degree. Some of us are waaaaaay older than game degrees, or didn’t want or need a degree to get where we are today. And that’s OK!
  39. 39. Portfolios If you’re aiming here, that means you don’t know enough about the industry to get a job later. And you’re probably just trying to pass.
  40. 40. Portfolios Your portfolio is only as good as the worst piece of work in it. If in doubt, leave it out. If an applicant’s portfolio is bad enough, developers will save the work to a GALLERIE ABOMINATI*. When they need cheering up they will gather round to look at it and laugh. Do NOT be that applicant.
  41. 41. Portfolios Be inclusive: Don’t assume the developer reviewing your portfolio is male. Or white. Or straight. Avoid: Porn elves. Undressed or under‐dressed women. Unfeasibly large or gravity defying breasts (on anyone).Brutalized or dehumanized women with sexual overtones. Any and all over‐used, limiting and frankly borderline racist stereotypes of criminal men from non- white racial backgrounds including triads, yakuza, mafia, bloods or crips (especially if they are also rappers), insurgents and/or terrorists, middle‐class British villains as voiced by Alan Rickman, working class British villains as voiced by Jason Statham, French mimes as voiced by no‐one, impoverished Mexican villagers with strong regional accents and apparent limited access to grooming products, education or any kind of empowerment. All of the above still applies if the characters are in zombie form.
  42. 42. Portfolios A good rule of thumb for selecting work for your portfolio is this: “If someone who didn’t know me saw this work, would they think I was a serial killer?”
  43. 43. Portfolios Donot makethe viewerdo thiswhen lookingat yourwork online.Create a portfolio website to showcase your work! But…
  44. 44. Portfolios If your demo reel uses an obscure codec and can’t be viewed by a developer, do NOT reply the following:  It works fine on my PC  I thought a cutting edge technology company would have been able to overcome a minor issue like that  What's a codec?
  45. 45. Portfolios If your work takes longer to load than it does to view, you’re wasting everyone’s time. Including your own.
  46. 46. Most developers work in shared spaces and use headphones. Even Leads & Managers. Keep the volume on your demoreel consistent. And try not to assume that everyone <3s Skrillex. Portfolios
  47. 47. Contacting An Employer To: Recruitment @ A Games Studio CC: Every games studio in the nation Subject: I love what your company does, and am a perfect fit for your studio. ORLY? I feel *so special*
  48. 48. Contacting An Employer Do you really want this as your identifier for job applications? Get a professional-looking email address!
  49. 49. Cover Letters “Dear Sir or Madam, I’m a recent graduate and am very keen on getting a job in the games, animation, visual effects, pre‐visualization or web industries...” Signed by reject #732 Target each application to that job only:  Cover letter  CV / resume  Showreel
  50. 50. Cover Letters “ willing to provide my services to improve the animation industry level” You do realize this implies you think you’re better with 0 years of experience than they are with ∞ years? That’s not just ignorant. It’s downright insulting. And grammatically wrong, too. The above remains true even if you were “kidding” and was posted on your social network site. Because prospective employers can see that too unless you’ve set your privacy settings accordingly. Well? Have you?
  51. 51. Job Interviews At a job interview, remember that you’re being interviewed by a professional <insert discipline here>, not a professional interviewer. You can distract them from any awkward moments with shiny work!* * This does work. “I’ve brought my sketchbooks, would you like to see them?” is like baubles to kittens.
  52. 52. Interview Questions “What is your greatest weakness??” Bad answers:  “I haven’t got any”  “I am a perfectionist”  “You are!”  “Chocolate” * Good answer:  “From your perspective, I guess it’s the fact that I don’t have much work experience. But let me tell you about the projects I have worked on in and outside of college...”
  53. 53. Don’t Badmouth Anyone There is only about 1 degree of separation between pretty much all game developers, world wide. It will come back to bite you. Even **years** down the line.
  54. 54. Interview The Company You should be interviewing the employer as much as they are interviewing you. Learn to tell a good employer from a bad one. All games companies have good times and bad times. The trick is to work out the differences between “Bad times” and “Bad employer”. This is easier with hindsight.
  55. 55. More Interview Tips  Learn about the company first  Dress appropriately  Don’t arrive late or too early. If you are late, call.  Talk about things of interest to the interviewer  Use questions to talk about your strengths and past accomplishments  Don’t lie  Find out what’s the next step  Write a “thank you” letter (or email) afterwards
  56. 56. Mock Interview Watch a Job Seeker Interview with Game- Maker Turbine (14:03)
  57. 57. Employee  Work-for-hire  Social Security & other taxes (“withholding”) paid by employer  Some level of benefits: ○ Health Insurance ○ Retirement Plan  401k  ESOP ○ Profit Sharing ○ Paid Holidays ○ Vacation Days ○ Sick Leave ○ Employee Discounts / Free Games ○ Parking
  58. 58. Temporary Employee  Company contracts with Temp Agency  You are employee of Temp Agency  Temp Agency pays your SS & taxes  Generally no benefits until assignment becomes long-term  
  59. 59. Independent Contractor (Vendor)  All terms negotiated up front  Less micromanagement  You must pay your own SS & taxes There is no shame in freelancing. As long as you’re working on games, you’re a game developer. Even if you’re an impoverished freelance, outsource or indie dev who isn’t exactly living the dream right now. You’re still one of us and we <3 you.
  60. 60. Now What?  Always be thinking about your next job  Always have your resume up to date  Always have some money saved up
  61. 61. Tokenism The practice or policy of making no more than a token effort or gesture.  Token effort.  Token changes.  Token comments.  Token QA practice.  Token documentation. Does NOT belong in game development practice ANY kind. Do not aim to do the minimal required. Aim to exceed expectations.
  62. 62. Personal Hygiene Is not a “lifestyle choice” when working in teams. Body odor is NOT a viable way of keeping managers away from your desk*. * No matter how tempting that can be during crunch.
  63. 63. Always Be Creating
  64. 64. Course Evaluation  Go to this URL and answer information about this course:
  65. 65. Gaming Is Miraculous Modern Gaming is Miraculous (4:36)