How to land a job in the games industry – by Sam Cartwright

It’s around this time of year that many of our second-year students start thinking about their employment prospects after graduation.

According to the 2016 Census, the number of digital game development businesses in Australia at the end of June 2016 was just 80. This is down from 84 in 2012. These 80 businesses employed a total of 734 game developers.

While this may be sobering reading, it doesn’t mean that there are no jobs out there. Rather, it means that new graduates need to be very sophisticated in the way they approach the job market.

The good news is that AIE students are already positioned well above graduates from other game related degree and certificate courses from universities, TAFEs and other vocational training providers.

Many of these courses try to teach students a mix of art, design and programming, when the reality is the industry needs graduates trained extensively in one discipline. As a student of The AIE, you’ve specialised in your desired discipline and gained job-ready skills that place you above most other graduates.

Even so, competition for game development jobs is strong. Luckily there are several things that you can do to further improve your chances of landing a job.

In this series of articles, I’ll be looking at a few things that you can do now to ensure your applications and portfolios are the best they can be. But before we discuss the job application process, we should know where to look for jobs in the first place.

If you haven’t been looking for jobs yet, you need to start now. Even if you’re six months away from graduation, it doesn’t hurt to get an idea of what companies are looking for. And you may even end up with a job waiting for you once you leave school.

The first place to start looking are the usual job sites. Perhaps the most popular of these is Seek (https://www.seek.com.au/).

I don’t place much stock in Seek, and I know a number of companies won’t use it to avoid being inundated with applications from inexperienced job seekers and those on unemployment needing to maintain a quota of applications. Nevertheless, every once in a while a good opportunity will come up. So it’s useful to set up a few keyword searches that will email you when something of interest does appear.

Then we have the game specific sites. http://www.tsumea.com/ is specifically for the Australian and New Zealand games industry and has an extensive jobs board.

Remember, as an Australian citizen you can work in New Zealand without a visa. If you’re prepared to relocate this may be a good way to get increase your chances of employment.

For those who avoid social media, you may want to reconsider creating a Facebook profile (perhaps under a pseudonym if needed), as many smaller studios will send out a request to the community via Facebook before formally advertising.

The Looking for Game Developers group is regularly used to advertise vacant positions (https://www.facebook.com/groups/lookingforgamedevelopers/).

It is also worth keeping an eye on the IGDA pages of the various chapters around Australia and New Zealand:

 

The Digital Labourers Federation (https://www.dlf.org.au/) is a closed mailing list that will send job postings via an email mailing list. This is a closed list, so be sure to write a brief description of who you are and why you want to join when applying as the moderators are careful to ensure it remains a group exclusively for members of the game, television, and film industries.

Finally, the AIE Alumni site (https://aiealumni.com/) has an extensive jobs board. Many of the opportunities from the sites mentioned above will be listed, along with some exclusive listings. Best of all, all positions are moderated to ensure listings are from reputable companies and are appropriate for new graduates.

It may take some time before you find the position that’s right for you, which is why it is critical to keep watching for any openings.

But most of all, you need to apply for every position you can. Don’t be discouraged by one rejection – or even 100 rejections. Keep watching for opportunities and keep applying until you land that job.

 

( Sam Cartwright is an independent game developer and game programming instructor with several years experience as a senior game programmer at a major international studio (Gameloft). He has  spent over a decade working in Japan.He has  a masters degree in business, and has served as lead on several published titles. He also co-chairs the Gold Coast chapter of the IGDA. He will be a regular contributor to the AIE Alumni news site and sharing his wealth of experience and insights.)