This seems to be a popular topic, so I’m just going to go ahead and write another bit on it.
We’ve talked about your social networks. We’ve talked about your resume. Now let’s talk about what you can actually do to build your network.
This is actually much simpler than it sounds, yet it’s another of those steps that most young developers just don’t follow through with. It is this…
That’s right. Get active in your local IGDA chapter and volunteer. And the very best job you can volunteer for? Handing out name tags at their next mixer. Seriously! This is the best way to put names and faces together and see who is who within your local community.
Then, get active and not just in the fun stuff. Help clean up after a meeting. Help haul off trash. Help with the down and dirty details of running their mixer. Why? Because not only will you be seen as someone who “gets things done even if they have to get their hands dirty” but you will also be present. You will be seen. You will be noticed as someone active in the industry. AND you will be there when the conversations happen that might include the fact that someone is looking for a hire candidate!
Now, what do you do if you live in an area where there is no local IGDA chapter? First you make sure there isn’t another organization like it. Is there a computer gaming group at the local college? Is there a Casual Games group? Maybe a social games group? If you are so unlucky as to live in a place that is devoid of game industry, then you must get active on a National level. The IGDA has SIG (Special Interest Groups) that cater to nearly every discipline and group that you will find in the industry. There are groups for minorities, for designers, for programmers, for educational game makers.. just about every facet of the industry you can think of.
Take advantage of this. Join the mailing list.. and.. .. now here is the key to it all.. START READING IT!
That’s right, once you join you actually have to read the messages that come through. Even better, you must reply to/get involved in the conversations. This will begin to get you face time with people who are important in the industry.. and important to your career.
Finally, now that you are using social networks, gathering your business cards and sending out regular emails and have joined up and are volunteering for local IGDA events, there is one more thing you must do.
YOU MUST MAKE A GAME!
I don’t care if you are an artist.. designer.. programmer or marketing person. The way to make games for a living is to start making games! There is no excuse today. Yes, back 20+ years ago you had to pretty much be a C++ programmer to make a game, today we have tools that are sophisticated enough that you do not HAVE to be John Romero to put together a game demo.
And if you really can’t get your head around scripting, then Mod! That’s right, start building mods for your favorite games. There are several really solid tool kits out there available for free! Build your mods, put them out for others to view and critique and then make another. This is invaluable education for you and also gives you something to show in your next interview.
SO, in a nutshell. Get out there and volunteer and if you want to make games, then do it!