The tips and tricks below aren’t career methodology so much as small “what not to do” warnings. Still they are worth reading if you’re on the cusp of securing a job or are proactively promoting yourself.
Proof, Proof, and Proof Again [Press & Dev]: Everyone is fallible. You may not have to be perfect on the job, but a potential employer expects your resume to be. It is absolutely essential that there are no spelling or grammatical errors on your cover letter, resume, or portfolio, especially if you’re applying for an editorial position. I’d go as far as proofing your personal blog, Linkedin profile, and other publicly accessible social media portals. Get several sets of eyes on your work or you risk an immediate dismissal. This may not be quite as imperative on the development side, but is still a good practice.
Don’t 1337 Speak [Press]: And by that, I don’t imply you should only avoid annoying Internet slang. This in particular is a pet peeve of mine, but other gaming press professionals share the same sentiment. Don’t write intelligently and articulately on your blog and then devolve into fits of tweeting without proper spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Not only is it unprofessional, but if you allow yourself to “slip” during your off hours, you’re more likely to do it when on the clock.
Know Whom to Contact [Press & Dev]: If you haven’t already secured a contact through networking events or social media, don’t fire a blind message to an “info@” address. Do your research. Dig for the name of a recruitment specialist, HR lead, community manager, or senior editorial staff member. If you send a message without a direct recipient, chances are it will be lost in the ether and no one will take ownership over it. Whenever someone emails me directly with a personalized message, I won’t skip over it. It may take me a month to find time to answer the email in full (often because it is an inquiry for advice, and the very reason I’m writing this FAQ), but I let it live in my inbox, because I genuinely intend to respond.
I’d like to clarify that the above is not the same as encouraging you to track down personal email addresses, or worse, phone numbers. I don’t take offense to Facebook messages containing professional inquiries, but I don’t advocate it generally.
Personalize Your Message [Press & Dev]: Don’t share your life story, but a short personalized anecdote about why you want to work at a particular press outlet or development house doesn’t hurt either. In fact, it may keep you from making one of the most common mistakes I come across. I’ve received dozens and dozens of emails – both at Game Informer and Crystal Dynamics – from applicants who write a generic message and forget to BCC the massive list of potential employers they sent the message to. Worse still, I’ve received messages where the individual copies and pastes the same message into separate emails, but forgets to swap out the outlet or developer name. I’m less inclined to believe that you’ve wanted to work at “Game Informer” since you were a teenager, when you accidentally left “GamePro” in the copy of your email. Copying and pasting is a dangerous practice and one best avoided. If you want a professional to take the time to properly read and respond to your message, invest an equal or greater amount of time preparing it.
Beware of the Google Search [Press & Dev]: This is sort of a no-brainer. If you’re worried that a photo, angry rant, or careless tweet may reflect poorly on you in a professional capacity, reconsider publishing it. As mentioned prior, Google Search is a powerful tool and one that is being used more often to vet professional candidates. Keep that in mind. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have opinions or a personality, just be sure you are comfortable with how they represent you.
Don’t Overdo the Drinking [Press & Dev]: At the risk of sounding preachy, I really think it’s important to avoid drinking in excess at industry events, mixers, or parties. As a member of the press you’ll often be invited to events with an open bar and free food. It’s important to keep your head on straight so you can cover the products properly, conduct interviews, and post coverage in a timely manner.
Conventions often cap off with mixers and parties with the tab covered by an industry sponsor. Time and time again I’ve seen professionals let secrets slip, be honest beyond professional courtesy, or start acting in a way that violates every HR policy in the book. Also, lowering inhibitions means you may try dancing, and no one wants to see that.
This is especially a concern when you’re new in the industry and vying for a job. Be on your best behavior. Nurse a drink or two and be social, but try to avoid a hangover and regret the next day.
- Game Career Guide [Link]
- Gamasutra Jobs [Link]
- GameJobs.com [Link]
- GameDevMap [Link]
- Game Developer Magazine [Link]
- GameDev.net [Link]
- IDGA [Link]
- Reddit Game Jobs [Link]
- VideoGameJournalismJobs.com [Link]
(In no particular order)
“How to Get a Job in the Gaming Industry” by Game Informer’s Andy McNamara” [Link]
“G4 University” [Link]
A series of posts detailing ways to break into the industry with advice from vets in nearly every field. Read them all!
“Getting a Job in Games” by Respawn Entertainment’s Kristin Christopher [Link]
This one in particular is a fantastic resource for those looking to break into development. Christopher provides a breakdown of the types of jobs in gaming, ideal education, and what recruitment talent looks for in an applicant.
“Career Paths in the Game Industry” by Mark Baldwin for Gamasutra [Link]
“So You Want to Be a Games Journalist” by Aaron McKenna for GamesCareerGuide [Link]
I don’t agree with every point made in this article – particularly that a game journalists’ primary responsibility is reviewing games – but there are some solid nuggets of information to be had.
“How To Become A Video Game Journalist” by Dennis Scimeca for G4 [Link]
“The Secret to Getting Into Game Journalism – Sessler’s Soapbox” [Link]
“How To Become A Video Game Community Manager” by Jonathan Deesing for G4 [Link]
“Eurogamer Asks: How do you become a games journalist?” [Link]
This piece is worth checking out for personal career anecdotes, even if I don’t agree with the majority of the advice or the fact that they equate working as a games journalist to “wasting my entire twenties and having fun doing it” and perks being “getting free stuff, free parties, and free alcohol.” Perhaps I’m glossing over the intended sense of humor.
“The GDC Survival Guide” by James Portnow for GamesCareerGuide [Link]
“Seven Reasons You Don’t Want To Work In The Video Game Industry” by Andy Grossman for The Dorklyst [Link]
While funny, many in the industry will argue that a handful of the points made are true. Worth reading for the laugh, and perhaps to be aware of some industry pitfalls.