December 8, 2015, by Joe Ward
Spotlight On… Games Industry
By Joe Ward, Website Officer
There are plenty of you out there who are avid gamers. Whether you class yourself as part of the PC Master Race, a proud console peasant, or firmly in the camp of Candy Crush aficionado, it’s almost certain that the majority of you out there are gamers, whether you’d admit it or not.
As Iain Simons, director of GameCity quipped during his talk towards the end of the night, “there was a period in the 80s where everybody literally hated video games”, but with the advent of the Wii, Xbox Kinect and mobile gaming, the nation’s opinion has been transformed.
Of course, there have always been the die-hard gamers, still wearing out their copies of Final Fantasy VII and Streets of Rage, but now there is a new wave of consumer, and with their increased demand, the industry is flourishing and calling out for talented programmers, designers, artists and more.
The night started with a highly informative and interesting talk from Ben Milnes from Aardvark Swift, the leading recruitment agency for the video games industry. Having worked with giants in the industry such as Square Enix (Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider), Konami (Metal Gear Solid, Pro Evolution Soccer) and Ubisoft (Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, Rayman), and even got Lukasz – our second speaker – his first job, they are certainly a driving force everyone wanting to get into games should know about.
Ben gave us some surprising facts, not least that there are over 10,000 people employed in the UK games industry, and over 80% of those are outside of London! In addition to sharing the work that Aardvark Swift do around sourcing and recruiting talented people for games developers, he also advised that people who are genuinely interested in becoming part of the industry should start building their own portfolio of work, either individually, or through competitions such as Search For A Star, joining HackerRank or going along to Gamejams (search Google for one near you), where participants will have the opportunity to collaborate with and compete against like-minded people.
Like the games developers mentioned above, Microsoft Rare are in the same class of giants. Having created some of the most memorable Nintendo titles of the 90s (under the name Rareware), such as GoldenEye, Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark, the company was purchased by Microsoft in 2002 and has gone on to develop myriad platform games, and most recent many titles for the Xbox Kinect. They have also been working on upcoming game ‘Sea of Thieves’ which was announced at E3 2015. This was how the presentation began, with a clip of the game they are currently working on, and it looked fantastic.
Lukasz Migas, then went on share more about his experiences through “a day in the life of a technical programmer”. Having worked on top titles such as Gears of War, he knows his stuff (after telling someone this once, he was asked for his autograph). Lukasz’s ‘typical’ day involves writing and testing code, identifying and fixing bugs and stand-ups – an opportunity to bounce ideas off of colleagues, talk about issues each is having and try and come up with a solution, which he felt was invaluable. In essence, the part he most loved about his job was to have the opportunity to “be creative, learn new things and be challenged all the time”.
GameCity and the National Videogame Arcade
Iain Simons was a musician with a passion for videogames. After years working as a session musician, he decided to make a switch and created the GameCity festival in Nottingham. Running each year for the past 10, the festival grew in popularity, and seeking the next step, GameCity became an organization and opened the National Videogame Arcade in Hockley.
Offering the chance for enthusiasts, or just curious people (and their unwilling partner) to come and experience classic 80s arcade games, learn about the history of video games and even submit their own work (an excellent opportunity to build your portfolio), the arcade is set in a beautiful five-storey building right on the main street.
The arcade is actively looking for members to join, support and contribute work to the arcade, and their main mission is to celebrate and expose the work of developers, which is often overlooked. As a passionate promoter of a relatively recently recognised art form, having such a gem in Nottingham is something not to be missed, and should be celebrated in all its glory.
So, how do I get into video games?
- Be sure that it’s something you want to do – having a passion for video games is a must, and you have to enjoy being creatively challenged
- Enter competitions, go to Gamejams and become engaged with the industry early on
- Develop a portfolio of your work to show off to potential employers
- Get your CV up to scratch (and include all of the above)
- Practise your signature. Autograph hunters will be everywhere.
If you’re interested in a career in the games industry, start thinking about the information above. You can make an appointment to speak to one of our advisers about brushing up your CV, how you can develop your portfolio, and accessing opportunities.