Understanding games job adverts

In this video, we see the selection process in action as we hear from Karen McLoughlin from Sumo Digital and Ian Goodall from Aardvark Swift, who highlight things they’d like to see when an applicant sends in a CV and a cover letter.

Can you summarise what they say these should be?

There are a variety of additional things that studios may ask of you. Let’s run through each role in turn before we look at what’s true for all applicants whatever the role:

Artist

Artists have the simplest but possibly most challenging requirement from potential employers, a portfolio of artwork. Sharing this is a near universal requirement but doing so should carry a minor health warning. Every studio has at least one house style, sometimes more, which means that assessing a candidate’s style is invariably a value judgement. You may have a wonderful portfolio that just isn’t a good fit with one studio. There is only so much you can do to alter your style to suit each studio you’re applying for, but don’t be discouraged!

Programmer

Most studios will want to see what you’ve coded before but this also comes with a health warning. If you’ve worked in a team, then you’ll need to be very clear what you developed and what someone else developed. It’s likely that your understanding of the code will be the focus of some questions if you take it to interview, so choose carefully what you share and try to share your best work.

Designer

Designers will probably be asked to share design documents or completed games and then face questions at interview about what they did. Like the programmer above, be careful to choose work that’s mostly or only your own work because you’ll be expected to discuss the design choices in detail.

Producer

OK, producers, brace yourselves. There’s no such thing as a portfolio for a producer. In fact, there’s almost no additional thing that you can produce to demonstrate your professional and technical skills. Much of your assessment will be at interview, which we will come onto later.

All roles

  • Tailor your application to the role: Both experts recommended that you research the company before applying. Ian recommended that you change your CV and cover letter for every application, perhaps highlighting different experience that might relate to the particular job at the particular studio, but showing your passion for the kinds of games or platforms that the studio is known for.
  • Show work experience and projects: This experience will be crucial, so highlight this and any other experience in a games development (or similar) environment. If you were lucky enough to do any work placement or internships in games studios and you want to take anything you generated into interview, you must ensure you have permission to use it. Studios are very protective about their intellectual property but understand that this experience is vital in helping interns prepare for interview.
  • Show all your skills: It’s easy to forget that you should list your professional skills in the CV as well as your technical skills. List all of them to demonstrate that you’re a good fit to the role and use the cover letter to emphasise your professional skills.
  • Always list your hobbies: All our experts said that the hobbies section of a CV is critical in giving them an idea about who the candidate is and what it might be like to work alongside them in a team. Ian Goodall recommends you use this section to “show your personality, hobbies and what you would be like to work with.” So list your interests in as genuine a way as possible.
  • Demonstrate your drive: Karen likes to see the determination, drive and creativity of candidates. Even if you’ve not worked for a games company before, “show what you’ve done, your passion, your networking, your work in the community or charities.”

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How To Start Your Career In Games Development

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