How to Get Into the Gaming Industry

Article provided by Veronica Minano, Talent Acquisition Manager at Kwalee.

Female GamersIt’s long been perceived by many that it's tough to get a job in the games industry.

We even found in a new study that video games rank in the top 10 of what are seen as being the most difficult industries to get a role in, with over a third (36%) of the general working population classing the games industry as ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to break in to.

As a woman looking into what has historically been a male dominated world, this barrier to entry can seem even higher. However thankfully, I’m here to say that with many studios, this isn’t actually the case! But being extremely close to the hiring process at Kwalee, there are some things you can do to boost your chances of getting a job in this exciting industry.

Seek Relevant education

This goes without saying, but this is an industry where further education can make a real difference. Find a course that will help you develop your skills in your area of interest within the industry (game development, game design, game art, marketing, data analytics, etc.).

The entire course doesn’t have to be specifically focused in gaming, but you need to make sure it gives you enough understanding of how the knowledge gained would apply to the world of gaming. Especially where programming based roles are concerned, building experience and knowledge through education can be a great starting point.

Be Passionate

An education is one thing, but in such a competitive industry where almost everyone working in it has an actual passion for gaming, you need to have that passion too. Whether it's a role in marketing or game development you’re looking for, you need to be passionate about the subject matter, and the best employees often are gamers, as this passion shows through in their work. It’s a major ingredient in creating great games!

Get Stuck into Personal Projects and Game Jams

Following on from the two above points, you can bet that the people you’ll be up against in the hiring process will have a portfolio of work whether they’ve just come out of university, or have some work experience.

You can do the same by improving your current skills by experimenting with personal projects and getting involved in as many game jams as possible. These are invaluable, as they will give you great experience on understanding how to create a game as a team with tight deadlines, and again, enable you to show just how passionate you are about gaming.

Network, Network, Network

This is a small industry, one where people tend to move about a lot, and one where good contacts can make a difference. So whether it's on the likes of LinkedIn or at events (preferably both), take the opportunity to go meet as many people as you can, get on their radar and to stay in touch.

Be Open to Learning New Things

The people that go the furthest in this industry are those that are constantly trying to take on new information and aren’t closed off under the belief that they ‘know all there is to know’. Be the same, and don’t be afraid to experiment, to try new tools, adapt and use what you already know to improve. Being able to show how you’ve developed skills off your own back will go a long way to helping too!

Be Open About the Opportunities Available

Similar to being open about learning new things - make sure you don’t set yourself up for failure by only considering AAA studios or specific types of role when looking to get your first job in the industry. Smaller or lesser known studios can bring great opportunities for personal development, and there could be other roles/areas that you’re not considering that you could end up enjoying more than what you’re focusing in on. Be as open as possible when looking to enter the industry, as you’ll truly find out what works for you once you join!

Try to Stand Out From the Crowd

There’s no escaping the fact that there’s a lot of competition to break into the industry as it's a desirable space to work in, which means you need to go the extra mile to stand out. Alongside tactics I’ve already mentioned such as building your portfolio and networking, think about what other value you could add. Spend time developing a more creative CV that will stand out from the standard word docs, start your own YouTube channel covering your game dev learnings, or enter competitions with your work. In the modern world, there’s so much at your disposal, be sure to use it to stand out.

Play Lots of Games!

If you’re a gamer, this one will come naturally, but it makes a big difference. Don’t only play them though, but try to understand them from a working point of view too. For example, how certain features might have been made, what the designers are trying to say with art styles and so on. The games you love to play will no doubt come up in the interview, so having this added lens on them will show you’re not just a player, but someone who understands the art of making games too.

Finally, don’t give up and don’t feel intimidated! Job hunting can be difficult and disheartening at times, but if you really want to break into the gaming industry it will happen, it's just a matter of when. Plus, while there isn’t an even split of men and women in many gaming companies, in my experience everyone is like-minded and there’s nothing to be concerned about. Once you’re in, you’ll never want to leave! Why not start by taking a look at the roles we have on offer at Kwalee?

Veronica Minano About the author

With more than a decade of HR and recruitment experience, first in the engineering industry and more recently in gaming, Veronica Minano has built Kwalee’s Talent Acquisition team from scratch and has overseen the company more than tripling in size in less than four years. She is passionate about how different personalities and skill-sets can be best combined to create a harmonious and creative working environment.

Inspirational Woman: Roberta Lucca | Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer, Bossa Studios

Roberta Lucca

I believe we can all live multiple lives in our lifetime. I first learned it from my mom, who has been my first leader and high achiever by example.

Throughout my life journey in Brazil and the UK, I developed my eagerness for experimentation. That led me to become a computer scientist, then turned marketer, turned entrepreneur, turned angel investor, turned content creator, turned public speaker. I never lost any of these skills but added them to my toolbox of life.

I spent most of my last ten years building one of the most successful video game companies in Europe. Bossa Studios won multiple awards, including a BAFTA, on its way to becoming a multimillion-dollar business.

Currently, I’m hyper excited to be launching a podcast called Hyper Curious, where I talk with leaders in different industries about their A-ha moments in life and how they embrace changes by following their curiosity. It will be soon available on Apple and Spotify.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not at the start. I realised the importance of planning my next steps rather late in my career.

I remember vividly my A-ha moment about it. I was working so hard on a project that I thought would lead me to a big promotion. It turned out that despite being highly praised about what I achieved, the job I wanted to take was given to a colleague of mine. I didn’t see it coming so that was a big cold shower for me. As I was reflecting on what I did wrong and getting advice on how to do better next, I realised how much he had planned that jump and engaged with the right people in the organisation to open the doors for him. He did not only know what he wanted. He told people about it. Meanwhile, I was just heads down doing my job thinking my boss would notice my deepest wishes.

Since then, I plan my career moves, I sit down to set my intentions and goals (personal and professional) on a yearly basis, and revise them every six months. This year I took a step further: I took the time over the holidays to define my Beta Lucca 2025 Vision/Dream.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

I'm so interested in how embracing challenges in our lives, rather than fearing them, can keep us curious and evolving - which is one of the reasons I wanted to interview inspirational people (including Mo Gawdat, Sharmadean Reid MBE and Amy Landino) about this on my podcast.

For me, I’ve lost count on how many career challenges I faced. I failed in most of the things I’ve done. It’s painful on the micro-level, when you’re fighting to overcome a challenge - like the one above. But on the macro-level, it’s incredible the reward that comes from taking action and putting yourself out there, starting new things, experimenting with something you’ve never done before, and proving the doubters wrong.

That’s how you achieve great things in life. The cover of the magazine with the most successful person of the year is lie or at least a simplification of what it takes to succeed. Whatever you define as success for you, there’s no overnight success. Overcoming challenges every day is what makes you who you are. It’s a journey.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

I won a BAFTA Award! This is the Oscars of the Video Games industry. Worth noting, it’s not about the Award itself, but the representation of it. I was one year into building Bossa Studios with my co-founders and an incredibly passionate team. That was my very first startup, right after “dropping out” of the corporate job I had. To be recognised by the legends of the Video Games industry for something I was an active agent of creating was just out of this world.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I never thought I wouldn’t. In fact, I never had a goal of achieving success. I have been always focused on finding what it is that I love doing, doing more of that, less of what I don’t like and looking after my finances on the way, of course. I think that my supporting system has played a huge part on that too. My mom, my sister, my husband, and my best friends always believed in me, even at times I doubted myself.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

It depends on what they want to do and which stage in their career. If they are starting out now and love video games, make a game. You have all the free tools out there to learn and practice. There is no excuse not to make it nowadays. If you want to be a graphic designer of technology products or a marketer for a technology company, create and connect. Create a mock-up of how you think an app could be so much better or create a marketing plan to help a company market their products better to an audience you know inside out. Then, don’t hold that yourself. Find the C-level people or founders in these organisations on LinkedIn or Twitter, connect with them and share your work. If they are the right employers for you, they will love it.

To excel in their career once you’re into it for a few years, do a lot of soul searching so you can find the real value you bring to the world. Follow your curiosity, practice new skills that may seem unrelated to tech - like improv theatre. Improv can help you so much to be a better communicator and connector.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

There are tons of barriers, starting by the lack of role models. You can only be what you can see. Plus, women typically revisit their goals and ambitions in life when they have children. That’s a natural thing, a moment of big change in our lifestyles, priorities and how we see the world. On top of it, being out of the market for a year put women in a certain disadvantage, compared with their male colleagues who have not stopped.

How can we overcome those barriers? By actively being a role model to the new generations, showing them it’s possible, and by finding the right partners in life who will be supportive of you becoming a successful women in tech, and sharing the burden that a life with a child brings.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

Encourage their great talented women to go onto great challenges inside the organisation and in life. Train leaders to identify nuances of communication. For instance, according to research related to attribution theory, most of the time when women succeed, they attribute the success to external factors, while men attribute the success to their efforts. When things go badly, women typically take the blame of the situation while men attributes the failure to things out of their control. Knowing these nuances could make a whole difference next time a manager is talking to their women or men reports about the performance of a project they were involved with.

There is currently only 17% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Make everything that involves tech look as cool and creative as fashion & design!

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

  • - Book: I Could Do Anything If Only I Knew What It Was. It helped me see it’s ok not to have a one path in life but to embrace my multipotentialite life.
  • - DailyOm website: I’m loving the inspirations there as an antidote to the overwhelming bad news everywhere
  • - Podcasts: The Knowledge Project - great interviews with people who mastered their craft. Hyper Curious - my show about following your curiosity soon to be out!

WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here

Women in Games