How to Get In The Gaming Industry If You Have No Experience In This Field?

I got an email that really left me thinking how this could go. This email comes from a guy who wants to take the leap in the gaming industry. The question is here:

I am writing to you with the hope of learning a bit more about the game industry and how I may be able to find my way into it. I currently work on the trading floor of an energy company, where my responsibilities range from operations to trading. I have concrete plans to move out to the west coast by the end of this year and have spent a considerable period of time thinking about what direction I want to take my career. While I find finance interesting, I have come to greatly appreciate operations, project management and seeking efficiency in any business model. I feel that I would fit into the game industry in the role of producer, bringing business and management skills to a game company.

Unfortunately, with no connection to the game industry aside from being a fan and consumer of their products, and with no particular talents in design, art or programming, I am unsure at what door I might seek an entrance. I am hoping that you may be able to provide me with some insights about running your studio and the game industry as a whole that may help me on my search.

For starters, I wanna point out a web pages you might want to check out: How to get a JOB in the gaming industry. This page has a list of links to resources you might find useful.

Other than that, I’d say that my first answer is… I don’t know. I don’t know what would be the best strategy. What I’ve heard from companies, they usually require relevant experience from those who want to seek a game producer position (for example “has produced X number of games”). Usually this means that you’ve done some work in the field of gaming.

There’s no shortcuts to any place worth going, so to me it looks like the options are bit limited in this case. I suppose the best way to get a jump start would be to do something. If you haven’t got experience in making games, then can you find a team who has and help them build something good. Can you enter some gaming contents with your team to gain publicity and make contacts? Perhaps you could attend different gaming conferences and network there? Perhaps start writing a blog and into some other websites to gain publicity?

Maybe somebody else can give you a better answer, but I believe you simply need to get some experience in the field of gaming to get yourself better chances to find a suitable position.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. As a self proclaimed Video game Architect and Producer I understand your pain in trying to figure out a way to get into the biz. It is a tough tough road and I can attest to that as I have personally spent a little over seven years to work all types of angles. But enough about me, here are some great resources.

    The Game Producers Hand book by Dan Irish – You can find it at many shops online and off. It highlights many of the ins and outs of a game producer and its many roles. It also provides descriptions of the many roles that other developers play. It outlines the general game development life cycle and I feel is just a fantastic resource. If you’re serious – Pick this book up!

    http://gamerecruiter.com/ – This place is run by Marc Mencher, a great guy with tons of knowledge from within the game biz. We’ve talked a few times and he actually worked with me in trying to help me land a gig. (I didn’t get it, but that’s another story) Due to your experience in another industry they might be able to help you and guide you into sculpting some of your knowledge and professional experience into game experience. It doesn’t hurt to toss them an e-mail to ask for some help.
    Visiting the other sites that the above comments mentioned are great resources too.

    Last but not least if you head out west, look for QA (Quality Assurance)/Testing positions – It’s the mailroom route through the game biz. It’s not the glitz of managing a team and project, but you get to be on the front lines making sure the game is rid of bugs and actually a playable and fun game.

    If there’s a will, then there’s a way! Good Luck


  2. Interesting how the advice is more for trying to get directly into the business than to go through groups like game special interest groups and local IGDA chapters. Going to such groups and offering the organizational help to get things done would be a great way to get experience.

    Yes, that’s the slower track, but it is better than spending thousands of dollars on travel and networking to my mind, at least to start with. By having a few small projects under your belt you show that you can do the job. By working with those people you will be getting better networking ROI than going to the GDC when you don’t have anything to really catch people’s attention. After that, you can call yourself a Producer. Then you have something to catch people’s attention. So, that’s my 2 cents, for whatever they are worth.

  3. CuppaJo: & Psycho: good points.

    Emmanuel: Good luck with your jump! :)

    Tobias: Thanks for the link. Tom indeed has good stuff in his site.

  4. Ever seen the credits in some big massive game? Do you think all these people had the experience with games when they got there? I doubt that pretty much. There is a lot of roles in game industry that you could apply to. Do your own research, and think a lot about how your experience and skills could pay off in producing games.

    And then you’ll have extensive contacts and can make a leap to a real game producing position – it only takes hard work and passion ;).

    I totally agree with Juuso, that’s how it always starts:
    “I suppose the best way to get a jump start would be to do something.”

  5. Juuso, this one really caught my eye, because I am in exactly in the same situation, down to also previously working in the oil industry! How weird…

    So, roughneck (!), here’s my experience and suggestions:

    1) First, short of a miracle, don’t expect to get a job that has been advertised. Be prepared to network like hell. Attend GDC-type events and be bold. Sign up on linked-in and start building your contacts. The person who will eventually open the door for you is somewhere down the line of connections, so you got to work it.

    2) You need a kick-ass CV/Cover letter that really demonstrates why games, and why you. Sounds obvious, but it’s tricky when you don’t have any game experience.

    3) Read everything you can get your hands on related to game production. No shortage of books and websites for that, but you really need to show that you know the linguo and the issues faced by the game industry. Do your homework, or else you’ll be wasting people’s time.

    4) If you can afford it – and if you’ve been on a trading floor, hopefully you saved up money instead of spending it on bourbon and girls (wait, that sounds like a good way to… ah, never mind) – you need to take at least 6 months and go deep in something e.g. programming, animation or create a game. Something you find interesting. No one is asking you to become a programmer, but if you can put a project against your name that you delivered, it will be that much more ammo. Join a moding community. Or develop a simple game in flash. Or learn 3DS Max and build some animations. Something, anything, as long as it can be game remated and it’s something you’re passionate about.

    Good luck out there. It’s tough, particularly in the current environment. No one is taking risks right now, and guys like us with no experience trigger all the alarms! Convincing prospective employers that your skills are transferable is hard. I know, I’m out there looking for work too :)

  6. Apply for an AP job or internship. There aren’t tons of them that are entry level, but its somewhere to try first. If that is not working, the best way to get into production (or design for that matter) is via QA. You could also start in community, or support, but generally, the quickest shot is via QA. Work your way up – it’s the more sure-fire method of getting into production and you will learn a ton about making games in the process.

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