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May 13, 2013

Emerging Careers Can Be Epic – Gaming Industry Overview

Finding emerging industries should be in everyone’s repertoire as a lifelong career tactic. Career Pro Inc. sent three representatives into explore this emerging world to educate ourselves and others. Tim Hooper (engineering and project management), John Rabon (law and public administration), John O’Connor (career services). What we found is a dyamic field with some career lessons that cut across many industries. In Raleigh, North Carolina many gamers found their way here from all over the world to attend the East Coast Gaming Conference. Whether you’re a veteran in the gaming industry, a student hoping to start a new career or just a fan of video games there’s something for you at the East Coast Gaming Conference (ECGC).

Video game developers from large companies to small startup indie developers all gathered to attend this event. There’s a shared excitement amongst this group of professionals when it comes to the topics of gaming. In a time where industries tend to rely on sales tactics to broaden the appeal of a product, this industry challenges the developers to generate different content to appeal to everyone. In the panel discussions, the speakers attempt to educate the developers on optimization or psychological techniques to help make fun games for everyone.

There were 64 topics over 48 hours with 2 Keynote speakers. Each session was organized by a track with an included focus on video game design, art, mobile apps, writing, business, programming, education, and career.

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Listed below are a few of topics available for the attendees:

Path to Production– Attendees can learn how to prepare themselves for a career in the industry.

Call to Action – Attendees learned how to address cultural barriers when selling their products in other countries.

Is the metaphor Right – Attendees were given optimization advice on how to design game play settings with the goal of improving the gamer’s experience.

Intro into Game Production – Attendees discuss successful methods to implement project management in the video game industry.

Turning your game into your company– Attendees discuss the legal aspects of game development for either large organizations or small businesses.

You’re Hired! – Attendees learn how to sell their skills as an artist or graphic game designer to their prospective employers.

I was excited to see that I could learn from industry leaders without hopping on a plan and flying 3 hours behind, said Sophia who is from Kernersville, North Carolina and a Digital Effects and Animation expert. However, at ECGC I’ve got the opportunity to meet very different people right brain (like programmers) AND left brain (like animators). At other conferences, that’s not always the case.

The North Carolina area specifically has the capacity to succeed and thrive for a long time. It’s surrounded by universities that continually research and try to break new ground. That’s the exact mentality that the game industry needs to create novel ideas — to keep their audience captivated.

The game industry here, from what I have seen, has been driven by passion, community involvement, and continual growth within the companies and growth outside. As long as current game companies and prospective companies share what they know, keep learning, and teach each other NC’s game industry will be a force to be reckoned with.

The video game industry has a large presence not only on the East Coast but here locally in the triangle. Local studios were present here at the conference like Epic Games, Insomniac, and Ubisoft Red Storm just to name a few companies. The conference had industry professionals sharing their experience with attendees in an engaging forum format. If you’re looking for a career in the gaming industry the triangle is a great place to be.

Chris Devens from Epic Games led the talk on how to break into the field or thrive in this emerging world of games in his talk Breaking into the Gaming Industry:  From QA to Art.

Mr. Devens started in QA in the gaming field but came from graphic design, advertising and a six year plus stint in real estate. He provided this insight on gaming as a career:

The route is difficult and long, but it provides a great foot in the door for gaming companies.

Epic Games doesn’t do much shadowing; the business is too fast and busy for that.

There is not average day but much of the day is making art on the computer.

I cannot stress networking enough in and with this industry. Meet everyone you can.

You have to be willing to put the hours in on the job.  It shows you’re dedicated and passionate about the projects.

rtist should use use Polycount Forum; post work there for others to see.

Be sure to respond well to feedback. Positive criticism is only meant to help.

Companies want to see that you can work independently and not rely on texture artists.

Learn everything you can. Watch tutorial videos. E3D has the best tutorials. Digital Tutors is tediously informative about process.

Learn to not sleep (joking). There are limited require hours so everything can meet together. There is no flexibility in QA. You can learn to do QA if you can play games and translate bugs, glitches, and other problems to paper.

Lots of companies prefer no previous experience so you can learn their method.

Get to know the artists. Walk a fine line between seeking help and becoming a nuisance. Learn from what they say.Take advantage of opportunities. Be willing to do grunt work.

Portfolio showing work in game assets is a must. Learn how to do production modeling. Have a website, an online presence. Meet more people and learn what you can from them. Treat everyone respectfully.

If you’re in an in-house interview, they already like your work. Interviews can go for eight hour blocks, meeting with different departments to see if you’re a good fit for the company culture. Passion goes a long way in interviews. Humor helps, but don’t be a smartass. Don’t come in sloppily dressed, but casual is okay.

CareerPro Inc. is affiliated in good standing with the following organizations:

  • Affiliate of Society for Human Resource Management
  • Reach Certified Strategist
  • Association of Career Professionals
  • Career Directors International
  • Triangle Business Alliance
  • Certified Professional Resume Writer
  • Certified Federal Job Search Trainer
  • Career Management Alliance
  • Better Business Bureau
  • NC Veterans Business Association
  • NC Veterans Business Association