I teach games development and my students are all potentially the next generation of games developers, whether in 3D modelling, texturing, animating or programming. You may have an interest within the games industry that relates to the above areas but I’m sure one question rattles around in your mind….. “do I have what it takes to succeed in the ever growing and competitive Games Industry?”
The obvious answer would be “YES OF COURSE YOU DO!”
Now while that may be true on the most part, in this article I will explain as honestly as I can how difficult it can be and how to make it easier for yourself. There are two routes to get into the games industry and I will explain both below.
Route 1: Education and Qualifications.
We all know the importance of getting through education with sparkling colours and top marks and that in fact is VITAL. With a good grade in your CV you get looked at as a candidate, on the other hand if you hold a low graded qualification then your application may not even get looked at. This is not only valid across the games industry but across ANY industry. Better grades equal better prospects for a better job…END OF!
It is not good enough to just scrape through education, it is not good enough to just THINK that everything will turn out fine and that you will find a job in the games industry because you hold ‘a’ qualification. You have to want to BE THE BEST, it’s as simple as that. You have to be determined, focussed, prepared to dedicate hours into creating the best possible work, push yourself to the limit and then some.
Back to the point of creating the best possible work that you can… Well it’s simple isn’t it? Potential employers in the games industry will always look for a good portfolio, in fact they will look for an OUTSTANDING portfolio. You need to demonstrate that you can stick within a poly count, if applying for a character modelling job you must show that you understand human anatomy and the human figure. Also that you can texture well because a model can be great but can be let down with a badly painted and stretching texture. The same applies for applying for a concept artist job, you need to show that you understand the human figure, that you can shade well, understand lighting and shadows, and also the composition of an environment/scene. So from THIS point you should always create your work with the intention of including it into your portfolio. With that mindset you will automatically show an extra desire to create work of better quality and finesse, I mean after all it could be seen by potential employers so you need to feel that bit of pressure.
As long as you stay along those lines your portfolio should be heading along the correct lines.
Route 2: Without Qualifications
Now with me being a lecturer in games development I could say that attempting to gain employment in the games industry without a qualification is plan stupid. Now on most parts that is true, but there is a small grey area where you may be considered. What you would have to do is read through the portfolio guidelines mentioned above and dedicate your life to them, so to speak. In simple terms you must have an absolutely OUTSTANDING portfolio demonstrating a vast number of assets/characters using creativity and flair. You need to shine, stand out, sell yourself as the best.
This is by no means the recommended way to do it, but I just thought it was important that it is not impossible to go down this route, it’s just DAMN HARD!
You should always seek feedback on your work from colleagues, peers, friends or family. Feedback is great because it provides you with areas that you may not see that require developing. There are some great online forums that allow you to post your work up for feedback. There are a vast number of professionals that love to share their knowledge with up and coming designers. Don’t be afraid of getting your work slated or ‘torn to bits’ as forum members will only look to provide constructive criticism.
I will keep this short, if you wish to gain employment in the games industry it is HIGHLY recommended to gain a qualification in the field (I’m talking about University here!). If you don’t hold a qualification (and in fact this applies even if you do hold a qualification) then you have to work extra hard to create work that is as close to perfection as possible. Make use of normal maps to add additional detail to your models and demonstrate that you can use a variety of different skills. Don’t forget that there will be hundreds if not thousands of other hopefuls applying for the same job so you have to push yourself to stand out, create work that makes use of many techniques and to shine like a beacon to the games studios…. you need to make them think “WE NEED THIS GUY/GIRL WORKING FOR US”.
At the end of the day you will get out as much as you put in, so if you’re lazy and expect a job to fall on your lap then think again, but if you’re hard working, determined and create good looking work then you have every chance of getting into the games industry.
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