How to apply to game jobs with no industry experience

You’re fresh out of school, full of brilliant ideas, brimming with newfound talent, and ready to dive into the video game industry. You’ve come a long way from building your first original iterations of Pong and mastering the basics of version control. The world is your oyster, but you have no experience. Sound about right, huh?

So how do you find your place in a massive, varied, and highly competitive industry that accounts for nearly $163 billion yearly in sales worldwide? 

Opportunities

The video game industry is full of opportunity. According to mordorintelligence.com, “The global gaming market was valued at USD 162.32 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach a value of USD 295.63 billion by 2026, registering a CAGR of 10.5% over the forecast period (2021 – 2026).” These opportunities extend to everyone- game artists, animators, playtesters, translators, audio engineers, and every role in between. This is wonderful news for anyone looking to get in the game (literally) in 2021.

While the jobs are certainly there, it can be daunting to figure out where to find them, what to look for, and understand the process of marketing yourself into the right niche. Once you jump those hurdles, what opportunity do you take? Do you pledge yourself to a company as an intern to get the valuable experience you desperately need? Do you gather all of your grit and fight for a paid position with the company of your choice?  

Paid Positions

This is, of course, the preferred choice. According to GlassDoor, average entry level wages for a game designer are roughly $58k yearly; for game animators it’s a whopping $69k! Not a bad start, right? (By the way- if you’re interested in more game salaries, we have a Game Salary Calculator that can help you figure out what the going rate is for your discipline and location.)

Landing these jobs without industry experience can be tough. Potential employers want to see proof of a shipped product along with a demonstration of your technical abilities within a team setting. 

Internships

While this option doesn’t usually pay the bills, don’t let that dissuade you. Some studios offer paid internship opportunities too! While you won’t earn top dollar as an intern, you will be accruing some incredibly valuable experience. Experience, as you are well aware at this point, pays in dividends. Nothing is more important than honing your craft.

On top of the experience you gain, internships help you get your foot in the door with reputable companies; it’s a chance to showcase your abilities and rub elbows with big hitters. If you impress the right people, it could lead to a full-time salaried position- no job hunting required! 

Our advice? If you land an internship, keep your head down and nose to the grindstone. You’ll make a name for yourself and fill your portfolio with invaluable credentials, and you’ll build a network with developers who can introduce you to new opportunities. Another good strategy is to find an internship while you’re still in school if you’re pursuing secondary education. Many students live on scholarship funds or loans during school semesters, freeing up time outside of class. If you secure an internship this way, it can really accelerate your job search once you graduate because you already have experience to go with your portfolio. 

Challenges

While opportunity abounds in our industry, the market is still very competitive. You must be willing to court prospective employers to confidently secure your place among the many professionals that work together to bring video games to life, no matter what your specialty. If you’ve made it this far, you know that this isn’t for the faint of heart or weak-spined. Nobody ever said it would be easy- only that it would be worth it.

Lack of Experience

One of your most significant hurdles will undoubtedly be a lack of experience. This is one of the most difficult and frustrating issues to contend with- one we’ve all experienced at one time or another. Because if you can’t land the job without experience, and you can’t get experience without the job, how are you ever supposed to get started?

There are a few ways to overcome this. Hopefully at some point during your formal or independent education you’ve had the chance to work on team projects. Even though these may not have been your ideal project, they should at least provide employers with an example of your skills and teamwork. These projects can absolutely be used in a resume/portfolio, so don’t be afraid to include them!

Equally as important is having a solid platform from which to network with your peers, receive credit for products that you have worked on previously, and showcase your skill set. This functions almost like a neon arrow directing attention your way. Being seen and heard in a vast sea of rivals will make the difference between snagging the job you always wanted and watching someone else live out your dream while you watch from the sidelines. 

Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives, from the way in which we do business to the way we go about our daily lives. It is equally apparent in the ways we’ve had to alter our search for work. Over the course of the last year, the U.S experienced unparalleled levels of unemployment, reaching a staggering 14.8% at one point according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fortunately, the same report shows that these levels are starting to correct themselves.

Job fairs that used to be hosted by large campuses such as Full Sail and others are on hold. Face to face meetings and conventions are off the table for the most part. We all miss GDC.

We’re facing challenges with which we have no experience. How are we, the future heirs of our industry and masters of our craft, supposed to step forward into our destiny? 

Your Next Steps Toward Your Dream Career

Establish a Presence

You should also make yourself known on as many forums as possible. There’s an internet group or channel for every specialty within the industry – here are a few to check out! Indie DB, r/GameDev, Unity Forum, ArtStation, Gamesmith Discord, and IGDA are great places to find the communities that fit you best.

Gamesmith also has a plethora of valuable tools to kickstart your career and get you into the job of your dreams. Foremost among them is the platform’s ability to get you noticed. Marketing yourself and showcasing your talent is everything in today’s industry. You’re a valuable commodity! Don’t make yourself invisible. If you haven’t made a profile with Gamesmith yet, sign up here and throw your career into overdrive! It’s quick, easy, and always free!

Build a Portfolio

You can post your resume and portfolio on LinkedIn or another recruiting site, but it’s difficult to cut through all the noise. ArtStation is a great alternative to build a visual portfolio.

Gamesmith is too, and we have the ear of the community and studio recruiters as well. One of the Gamesmith’s sweetest features is the ability to showcase your work straight to AAA recruiters- and we court some of the biggest names in the industry (Ubisoft, Bethesda, Blizzard, and more). We use a peer-reviewed crediting process that establishes legitimacy and transparency. You can verify that your team performed their respective roles and they can verify you, which creates a self-sustaining ecosystem that fosters cooperation and shared prosperity.

Apply with Confidence

You’ve equipped yourself with years of skills and technical knowledge. You’ve assembled an elite party to compliment your abilities and you’ve capped your level. It’s time for the endgame. 

Applying for a gaming job with no industry experience can be a daunting experience, but we’ve got your covered on high quality job searches. This is where the big players and indie greats come to find their talent. This is where the fledgling upstarts become high-flyers and the lone wolves find their packs. Happy hunting!

Gamesmith is the discovery platform for the professional games industry. Discover contacts and knowledge you need to achieve your daily goals and KPIs in games. For more information, please contact support@Gamesmith.com