Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Looking Ahead

So this may very well be the cliché beginning of the year blog post, but I want to take a second and look ahead at what’s going on this year. The biggest thing is that I will be attending my first GDC in March of this year. To say I’m excited would be a terrible understatement. Unfortunately I only have room in my budget to attend as a student, but the career day should be a great opportunity to network and to learn a thing or three.

Being a Game Design student, you hear a lot of tough things about getting into the industry. A quick Google search will probably turn up a number of articles on how to do this, what avenues to take, and personal tales of how many have done it before. Other than school and schoolwork I am trying to immerse myself in a number of projects and pick up extra information outside of the classroom. Ideally I would like to get an entry-level QA position somewhere to not only get some experience, but also have the chance to see how a team operates firsthand. After that I would like to move into a Junior Design position and work my way up.

When I started my Game Design degree, one of the first things I decided to do was to come up with a list of studios that I would like to someday work at. I wanted to do this to be able to better focus my efforts to “break in”, and because it has allowed me to have clearer goals overall. Every time I found a studio I was interested in, I would ask myself a series of questions about the studio to see if it in fact fit on my list, and if so was it high on the list. These questions included location, does the studio put out games I would be proud to have worked on, does the company have goals and standards that align with my own goals and the standards I set for myself, does the studio have high turnover or do they seem to keep people, etc.

As I made this list one studio kept popping up, and not only met my expectations on a lot of things, but more often than not, it far exceeded them. Those of you who know me and have spoken with me recently know that this studio is none other than Insomniac Games. It also turns out that Insomniac Games will have people at the GDC career event. Knowing that I may have a chance to get in front of someone and at least talk to them has put me into overdrive. I know I won’t be the most qualified person they talk to, but I do know I will be the most determined. I am making it a point to be as familiar with the studio and their games as I possibly can before I go in March. Any game they have out that I didn’t already have I went out and picked up. I’ve been playing through them fairly constantly and will probably have over 300 hours in by the time GDC rolls around. I’m also downloading all of the podcasts and listening to them on my way to and from work every day. It makes for a rather hectic schedule on top of school and work, but with any luck my dedication will pay off in some way.

The best part of this is the simple fact that the worst-case scenario is I get to spend a ton of time playing some excellent games and I will game some insight and information if I do get the chance to talk to someone. So I’m rather content in the simple knowledge that I’m going into a no-lose situation.

3 comments:

iain scott said...

Good luck at GDC! I'm hoping to be able to attend next year's. I have a similar list of studios I would love to work at someday and Insomniac Games is right at the top with a couple of others.

macton said...

Good luck, man. I know we are looking for a designer. But for sure we appreciate passion and dedication and it sounds like you've got that! :)

thirdshift said...

Thank you for reading and for the encouragement, it is very much appreciated! My goal is definitely to get into the design side of things eventually, but I know I have a lot to learn before I’ll be ready for that. I think starting in QA would teach me a lot and give me the chance to show my level of commitment and my work ethic. The hardest part is just standing out enough to get in front of somebody in an industry with so many incredibly talented individuals. I know my passion and my commitment; I just need that one opportunity to shine. I’ve set the career page as my home page in case something does pop up, and I’m following the company on LinkedIn as well.

It’s been a ton of work so far, and I only expect that to grow, but it has also been the time of my life.