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How to show NDA protected work on your online portfolio

Your online portfolio is more important in 2021 than ever before. GDC is continuing to stay virtual. In-person job fairs are scrapped. Interviews happen over Zoom and other online platforms. 

This means that maintaining a current portfolio on a reputable site to showcase your work is everything. 

But what happens when the products you’ve created, all those beautiful custom textures and noodle networks, are covered by an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement)? How do you highlight all of your contributions without landing yourself in possibly career-ending hot water? A good place to start is with the Gamesmith community AMA session called “Know Your Rights”, with Liz Surette. This was a three part session which does focus on copyright, trademark and patent protection, information that will help you.

Understand Your NDA

If you didn’t take the time to thoroughly read your Non-Disclosure Agreement at the point of signing, you made a mistake. But that’s alright. It isn’t something you can’t remedy, and you can use it as a learning point moving forward. 

Most NDA’s contain specific language about what is and is not covered by it. What is not considered confidential information? Check to see the levels of confidentiality your contract states. Often there is an exception to any publicly accessible online information so if the studio has mentioned on the company website, a blog, or other marketing material for instance, you will be able to show your work that they have revealed.

UX Design Collective, have published strategies that you can employ such as often-times, something as simple as removing logos and developer sensitive information from your work satisfies that conditions of the NDA. This can simply be a case of blurring out the pertinent information, or replacing it with fake information.  

Another thing to note is that most, while not all, Non-Disclosures are only active for a limited period of time. This means that your portfolio might get that added boost it needs a little later than you might like. While this can be irritating, the silver lining in this is that over time, your portfolio will feature more and more content as NDA’s fall off. 

Communication: The Silver Bullet

Another practice that many professionals are finding success with is simply communicating with studios about the need for portfolio content. Freelancer Map, discusses how you can employ this tactic.

If you find yourself in need of more work to display in your portfolio and much of what you have to offer is covered by an NDA, reach out to your studio. Ask them what room you have within your agreement to display your work publicly. If they explain that the NDA is absolute, ask them for an exception. Rework and adapt your content to show it is game ready, but does not display what it was necessary for or any specific vizual specifications, but something that could function within a known game engine environment.

Another possibility to an online portfolio is creating a password protected area. This will not necessarily help you get noticed and an interview, but it can help you at that stage. This is a clunky process as it limits who is seeing your work and could possibly seed concern about what work you may display that they would like protected. Following on from this, you could bring printed copies of your work to show at an interview as this will certainly limit how that information can be disseminated online afterwards.

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