Most of the emails that I get from people who’ve stumbled upon this site are related to getting into the games industry for the first time. I am a huge fan of getting more people in who are extremely passionate about what they’re creating and take time to reply whenever I can.
I’ve been collecting up notes from conversations to try to turn them into another tl;dr treatise on the subject, but instead I’m going to just post them as fragments as they come up.
This has the added benefit of making them infinitely more likely to see the light of day where they might be able to help someone.
One for now:
1) Age. This one comes up most frequently with people who have significant experience in other industries and are trying to break in to games.
“My age. I’m not a 20 year old. I’m old enough to be your (mother/father). Does that mean I’ll never get a job as a first timer?”
The reality: If you’re asking this question, somewhere deep down you already know this. Hearing it from someone on the inside can help, so I’ll repeat it out loud:
If it does matter to someone, you don’t want to work there in the first place.
Most modern industries aren’t expecting a 20 or 30 year commitment. If you can come in and do good work for 3, 4, 5 years, you’d be considered a solid find.
You don’t need 20 years left of career to be considered viable. You need to be passionate, smart, and able to do solid work.
The hack: Bigger companies, especially, are (justifiably) paranoid about even the appearance of age discrimination. Chances are that everyone you’ll encounter during any interview process has gone to liability-insurance-mandated (and therefore employer-mandated) discrimination training.
They’re also more likely to be willing to take on people who may need more coaching, due solely to their size. On larger teams there are greater numbers of more experienced people who can mentor, instead of, say, at a scrappy 10 person startup where everyone needs to be moderate-to-expert in 2 or 3 distinct jobs.
They’re also sometimes more suitable from the employee point of view since they’re traditionally more stable and have more comprehensive benefits.
You’re not going to become a millionaire on stock options there, but if you’re trying to get started and get some valuable experience under your belt, that should be the furthest thing from your mind.
Feel free to let me know via comments or mail if there are things you’d like me to call out - I have enough fodder for another half dozen of these as time permits.