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How to Get Into the Gaming Industry: Top 4 Tips for Students 

Considering a career in gaming? We interviewed senior executives from the gaming and esports industry to get you the best advice.
Tamara Mathias
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Getting Into The Video Game Industry

The gaming industry is booming, offering a plethora of opportunities for young talent. Just last year, U.S. commercial gaming revenue reached an annual record of $66.5 billion, according to the American Gaming Association.

If you’re an avid gamer or are simply interested in applying to roles at a gaming company, there are plenty of opportunities out there - even some you might not have considered! Here’s what you need to know if you’re wondering how to navigate this exciting landscape.

Job Opportunities in the Gaming Industry

When most “outsiders” think of careers in gaming, they imagine roles in game design and development. While this is an important part of the industry, it is vital for candidates to understand that there are many, many more opportunities for them outside of this focus area. 

“There’s a mystique surrounding gaming, making it seem hard and complicated,” says Leslie Quinton, Vice President of Communications at Ubisoft. “However, the industry is teeming with opportunities for diverse skill sets.”

She points out that beyond technical roles, the gaming sector employs artists, writers, historians, interior designers to work on studio spaces, and the full gamut of business roles, from analysts and management, to HR and Operations. 

“The industry is hungry for diverse perspectives,” Quinton says. “It’s important for people to understand that. Most gaming companies would encourage people to come in with whatever their skillset is. Someone with an MFA in Creative Writing could end up embracing the role of Creative Director for a whole brand!”

Careers in Video Games: The Business of Fun

Gaming companies tend to foster a culture of learning and having fun, but that doesn’t mean they’re not serious about hiring the right people with the right skills. Unlike more traditional industries, gaming companies have a reputation for recruiting people from unique backgrounds and giving them the flexibility to develop their skills and switch roles as their careers progress.

While a lack of diversity has been flagged as an issue with the industry, there are a large number of organizations focused on improving representation of employees to mirror the vast gaming community around the world.

How to Get into the Gaming Industry: Practical Advice for Students

1. Do your research and practice before interviews

“If you’re an entry-level applicant, spend a little time playing the games and learning about the industry and market before your interview,” says Rachel DiPaola, Chief of Staff and Sr. Director of Transformation at Big Fish Games in Seattle.

“It’s always a good idea to be authentic and rehearse with a friend. Hearing yourself answer questions aloud will really help you.”

DiPaola also notes that while the video game industry has grown and is an exciting place to be, new graduates need to remember it’s not all games! Showcasing your degree, resume and business skills is vital.

2. Demonstrate a passion for gaming

If you’re interested in the gaming and esports industry, you probably already enjoy gaming or engaging with the community to some extent. It never hurts to put yourself out there and go public with your passion. Whether you actively participate in gaming communities, live stream on social media, or compete in esports competitions, demonstrating genuine enthusiasm can bolster your profile with recruiters.

“The video games industry is fueled by passionate developers that love what they do,” says Joe Yuan, Investment Director at Hiro Capital, a VC firm that invests in gaming and interactive entertainment. 

“If you're looking to get involved in game development or design, interviews often center around previous work product including artwork, content you've created or Game Design Documents. If you're interested in the creative aspect, my advice would be to start creating something in Roblox or Unreal Editor for Fortnite (UEFN). Use existing user-generated content engines so there's a lower learning curve, put some content out there, and see if you can ‘find the fun’!” 

Yuan, who previously served as Director of Corporate Development & Strategy at Activision Blizzard, notes that taking initiative is a low-cost, low-risk way to demonstrate to employers that you're serious about game development. “It shows you're able to think through player motivations, that you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and dive in!”

3. Seek mentorship

It is never a bad idea to connect with people who are already successful at your dream job - even before you snag that first interview! If you’re interested in learning more about an industry or career path, let people in your network know. Your college career center might have resources that could be a game-changer for you. Getting in touch with someone from your college alumni group - or even your mom’s-colleague’s-nephew’s-cousin who works in gaming - could end up being the conversation that sets you on the right track. 

And if your network just isn’t doing it for you, there’s always the Internet.

“I’ve had people just reach out on LinkedIn and ask, ‘can you please mentor me?’ and I actually say yes!” says DiPaola. “If you ask ten people, someone is going to say yes. Having a mentor helps you get good feedback and advice.

Continually seeking mentorship is always a good idea, even once you have your foot in the door as an intern or an entry-level hire.  “My advice is to be open to opportunity and learning as you progress in the industry,” says Quinton. “There’s a huge openness to the idea of developing your skillset and moving from one role to another. Make sure you’re constantly asking people and leaders what their role entails and how they got to where they are.”

4. Build experience

Just like any other jobs, your resume will be more appealing to recruiters if you’re able to demonstrate work experience and job-ready skills that can be applied to roles in gaming. If you’re unable to secure an internship without prior experience, consider opportunities in allied fields that will allow you to build and showcase skills that can be applied to a role at a gaming firm.

For example, Extern offers a Gaming Market Research & Analytics Remote Externship with California-based esports startup Mobalytics that allows externs to level up on data analysis skills and scout untapped markets for gaming growth.

Take advantage of foundational experiences like this as a stepping stone to your next big career move!

“Videogames are made through a combination of art, math, and emotion,” says Amine Issa, Co-founder and Warchief of Science at Mobalytics. “Breaking down how people play games requires a strong understanding of games that can only be acquired through experience playing. When looking for new teammates, we look for people who play games and love thinking about games critically, using data and perception. It's impossible to reach meaningful conclusions without both.”

Start Your Gaming Career Journey Today

The gaming industry is more than what meets the eye. It’s a dynamic field with endless possibilities for creative and ambitious individuals. Remember, your unique skills and passion can shape a fulfilling career in this ever-evolving sector. So gear up, get ready to learn, and embrace the exciting journey ahead in the world of gaming!

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