Getting a JobOccasionally you'll see people on various internet gaming forums or at conventions talking about getting a job 'in the industry' as if it were some far away, unattainable goal that only a special few can hope to accomplish. The truth is though, that while it's very competitive it's far from impossible to break into. Knowing people does help a lot though. It doesn't matter if you're an artist, a programmer or a designer - networking and having contacts is invaluable.
If you did go to an art school, make sure you keep in touch with some of your fellow students. Eventually, someone is bound to 'get in' and once they do, you officially 'know someone'. Talented people tend to hang around other talented people, and when looking for new hires qualified people recommended by current employees will always be looked at.
That said, you can get in on your own and an awful lot of people do. Blackmail, for instance, or indentured servitude are both high success ways of gaining employment. If you're one of those folks who lets things like "the law" and "human decency" get in the way though, you just need to be persistent. Check out the corporate web pages of companies for whom you want to work. The Sigil Games website has a careers page that you can apply for a job and take our initial art test for environmental artists, where you model a piece of concept art from the game. Part two of the test, your ability to withstand constant and brutal rubber band attacks will come later. After you apply at one place, keep applying and sending out demo disks to others. It may take a while, but eventually you'll get a bite, and an interview... and then it's all up to you.
You'll definitely want to make sure you have a strong demo disk though too. If you can, try to create all aspects of it. Textures, models, animations, even the music if you're able. Showing some versatility is never a bad thing.What to Expect
There are a few common misconceptions about working at video game companies. The first is that its one giant video game party with toys and balloons and playing all the time and the second is that you'll be working insane hours cranking out as much content as you can until you finally keel over and die. These are of course, completely inaccurate. In reality, it is a healthy mixture of both.
Joking aside, there's a lot of fun and there's a lot of work. You have to really enjoy what you do to be here though. Those who don't tend to move on to other things, which is fine - it's not for everyone. Core hours aren't that much different than most other places. Some developers have later or more flexible start times (9-6, 10-7, etc). It is likely though that you'll end up staying late somewhat frequently.
The trade-off though is that it's a creative environment with teamwork and camaraderie you can't find in other places. The lengths our artists will go through to terrorize one another simply can't be matched by your average 9-5 day job.
Here's what some of the actual artists themselves have to say:What is your favorite part about working for a game company?
Jeremy Jiao, Artist:
Without a doubt, it's the work atmosphere. Imagine waking up in the morning and NEVER having that "I don't want to go to work," feeling. That's what working in the video game industry is like.
The random conversations around the office are also loads of fun - ours are usually nothing short of geeky. On any given day, you're likely to hear very enthusiastic conversations dealing with any topic like the latest and greatest console, PC or handheld game (aside from Vanguard, of course), the latest NASA or astronomy news or even the timeless Batman versus Superman type of argument.
Dave Baldwin, Artist:
That would have to be the ability to put my artistic ideas to good use. I also enjoy working with every one here who all seem to have the same basic idea of what a fun yet productive work environment should be; work hard during the day and then play video games all night.
Devin Lafontaine, Senior Artist:
We're all pretty fun and quirky in our own ways, so it makes for an entertaining environment to waste in front of a computer all day. At this very moment, I am overhearing a pair of coworkers debating the tactics of Guitar Hero finger placement, some others going over last week's episode of Heroes, and some people are mocking a coworker for having never read the Watchmen. So yeah, it's a pretty engaging place to work. The part where we make the games, that's pretty fun too.