Breaking into the games industry

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My name is Mikael Hellberg; I am the Curriculum Manager for our new Games Design course kicking off in September this year. Having several years of experience making and designing games I have a fairly good idea of what it takes to break into this exciting and forever-evolving industry, and in the first part in this series of articles I thought I would give those of you considering a career in game development a few pro-tips that I have learned along the way.

The video games industry is a massive beast, it encompasses a vast range of disciplines and for any given blockbuster title there are usually hundreds, if not thousands, of people involved in its creation. With this in mind the following advice is more general than technical and is applicable to most, if not all, job roles in the games sector.

Get started now
Seriously, right now! There is a Chinese proverb that goes like this: “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now”. This is true for most things, but especially when it comes to your academic studies and professional training. The video games industry is a highly specialized one, and in order to get your foot in the door you need to have at least some prerequisite knowledge of game development software and techniques.
In the times that we live in it has never been easier to access the resources needed to teach yourself new skills, and with the use of online tutorials, communities and open-source software such as Unity and Unreal Engine.

Practice makes perfect
Whether you have been expressing yourself creatively for a long time or you literally just tried out either of the softwares mentioned above, one thing is true, no one is born with talent. No matter what some people might have you believe being an artist is all about practice. If you are feeling a bit unsure whether or not you are good enough to work in this industry, just stick with it, you will get better. I promise!

Your portfolio is everything
In order to get a job in this industry you need to be able to clearly demonstrate that you can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.  The best way to do this in the shape of a personal portfolio that showcases your best work. Whatever goes into your portfolio is completely dependent on where you want to work and what you want to work with.
The best way to present your portfolio is in an online website format, as this makes it accessible from anywhere in the world and you can easily update it whenever you have new work to publish. Artstation and Squarespace are a couple of websites where you can get started.

I hope you found these tips helpful and please remember that starting from scratch is always difficult, but take it from someone who has made that leap himself; looking back at your old work to see how much you have improved is one of the best feelings in the world. I’ll see you next time. Until then, practice, practice, practice!

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