Working for a major corporation, it’s rare that I actually hire someone mainly on their potential as opposed to hard core experience in the industry. I get a requisition and it’s made clear what kind of experience is needed: LOTS.
However, sometimes, we can be surprised by little Joe College Graduate with little experience in whatwe’re doing.
As a part of the games industry, I am CONSTANTLY being approached by people wanting to “break in.” What few of them seem to understand is that making games is a lot different than playing games. Because you thought Halo was super sweet and you were able to beat it on Legendary within 5 hours means you’re a nerd, not a game designer.
Anyway…I digress. Sometimes, I speak to a person who doesn’t have a stellar resume, but does have a drive and a passion that screams, “I really want this and I can do it!”
So, how do you tell this person from the kid that lives with his mom?
#1) Motivation: Why do they want to work in this industry? Is it simply because they think it’s easy? It is a fall-back? Or, is it because they have a passion for the product? The high potential hire is the person that says to me, “I really liked what you guys did in this story. I think it could have been taken even further by doing this.”
#2) Experience and Education: What have they done so far? Where did they go to school? Why did they attend the school of their choice? Did they have an internship? Even Paris Hilton did an internship. Did they just coast by to get their degree in the fastest/cheapest way possible?
Can’t afford school? What books have they read? What have they learned in the last year? What’s next? If there is no answer to these questions, I’m moving on.
#3) Personal growth: The high potential hire will take it upon him or herself to make improvements to their own capabilities. Even if they’ve never made a game in their entire life, I expect to see some kind of portfolio or code sample of their work. And…I expect this to be tailored to the position I am recruiting on. If the candidate is an artist and I’m recruiting on a Sci-Fi game, I don’t want to see some renderings of Disney Characters…unless it’s Mickey Mouse wearing body armor and carrying an assault rifle (hey…I may be on to something here).
These people are out there. I can think of about 3 recently that have gotten in and become Rockstars. Of course, there are about 3,000 more behind them that have a long way to go.
Don’t believe me? Ask this guy. He’s a doctor.
Interested in breaking into the games industry? Here’s some advice from someone who’s really smart. You should listen to him. A lot of it applies to any industry you want to break into as a candidate.
Jason Pankow realized long ago that he wasn’t smart enough to actually program video games and game consoles. So, he found another way to participate! In between bouts of pwning newbs in Halo or scoring mad gamerpoints, Jason spends his time as the Staffing Program Manager for Microsoft’s Devices and Studios Division. Jason’s day is spent running programs that help recruit the obscenely talented developers, designers and engineers that have blessed the world with the likes of Xbox, Kinect and tons of other rad stuff, much of which he can’t tell you about. So, don’t ask. In non-nerd speak…what this means is that Jason has the coolest recruiting job in the world! Look him up as “Satchmo Baggins” on Xbox LIVE. But, watch out for the dreaded headshot!