What Every Video Game Industry Hopeful Needs to Know

i’m tired of talking to students and people’s kids about their video game industry ambitions. i think from now on, i’ll just link them to this video and be done with it:

(huge thanks to @cartoondutchie for helping me save my breath)

21 thoughts on “What Every Video Game Industry Hopeful Needs to Know

  1. Mary GIbson

    Ryan, I didn’t know I wasn’t the only one talking to you about this – re: my nephew. Good to know you are getting bugged alot about it.


    1. Ryan Henson Creighton

      You’re not the only one by far. And the attitude is always the same, from everyone you talk to. It’s … i can’t believe how incredibly accurate this video is. It’s like they’ve recorded the (numerous) conversations i’ve had with clueless, deluded kids who don’t want to do a lick of work in an incredibly challenging industry.

      Here’s the link, but you know … you could always link people to my blog to help increase my company’s profile, right?


  2. Chris Harshman

    Love that video, it is very true, making video games is a pain in the ass, and with schools the way they are good luck, I got lucky because I worked my butt off outside of school and was able to get a job which I have had for 1 year today in fact :)

    For anyone who wants to work in the games industry I would say, Work your butt off, if you haven’t started already you are really going to have to work hard, for me I knew I wanted to work in game development for 9 long years before I got this job in which I had to work very hard and absorb alot of information.

  3. axcho

    Playing a game is like eating a donut.

    Making a game is like making a donut.

    There’s a difference.

    “I love eating donuts! I want to be a baker when I grow up…”

  4. axcho

    Oh, also…

    You can make donuts from scratch in your kitchen at home, as a hobby. Some people like that.

    You could have your own donut shop, maybe even earning enough money to make a living.

    Or you could work in a donut factory.

    Neither of them have much to do with eating donuts. But some are more fun than others. It doesn’t hurt to like donuts, but if you don’t like making them, you’re not going to like making them for a living.

    Thanks for the link to the video. I enjoyed it.

      1. axcho

        Nice. :) Cake is probably a better analogy, anyway, since cake is relatively easy to make at home.

        Plus you have the added distinction of “from scratch” versus “from a cake mix” – like using Game Maker, maybe? :p

  5. Iain

    It’s wrong on the point of making levels is nothing to do with making games. Making good levels is really hard, especially in 3D games, and these days requires that you know a complex IDE like Unreal editor or Unity, some scripting and know a bit about 3D modelling and texturing. Also, if you really do have a notebook full of game characters, you’ve got further than a lot of professional Flashers I know who still say they’d “love to make games”.

    1. Ryan Henson Creighton

      From where i sit, owning a Flash shop, i have no use for these students who graduate, having put together a dark, moody brick n’ pipes level in UDK. None. When a client comes to me asking for a 2D shooting gallery-style game in Flash with bright, cartoony graphics, what good is that level designer to me?

      It’s possible it’s a more valuable skill in a much larger studio that works on 3D games, or the types of games where level design is an issue (ie 2D platformers). But i need someone who can actually build something from the ground up, not merely modify something that already exists.

      For me, it’s the difference between knowing how to add a spoiler to a car, and knowing how to build a car.

        1. Ryan Henson Creighton

          Harshman, out of the hundred or so jobs on that page, only two of them are for level designers. Of those, one of them is a sr-level position that requires the successful candidate to have 5 yrs experience as a lead on a shipped product. The other is a more entry-level position, but they’re giving precedence to someone with professional level design experience.

          Contrast that 100:2 ratio with the staggering number of people coming out of the game design colleges thinking they’ll get jobs as level designers.

          1. Chris Harshman

            That is exactly my point, there are not alot of jobs, but without them 3D games are hard presed to exist. Most Game Designer also are or where Level Designer at some point.

          2. Ryan Henson Creighton

            i think you’re high on the stuff that crack smokes when it wants to get high, Chris. There are many, many game developers who have never even worked on a 3D game, let alone who got their start by doing level design. Try to see outside the lead wall surrounding your favourite first-person shooter games on current-gen consoles – there’s a whole universe of game development out there that you (and others) are not seeing. It existed long before Wolfenstein, and it still exists today.

          3. Chris Harshman

            All in context to 3D Games, I have no experience in 2D Games so I cannot speak to that, as I would misrepresent it most likely, I can only commet on Mainstream 3D games. FYI, I don’t own a console unlike you :P

          4. Ryan Henson Creighton

            Wait – you’re commenting only on 3D games, but you don’t own a console? You’re a rare breed, Chris Harshman.

  6. Iain

    Ryan I think you are making a mistake in thinking you are part of the games industry. Doing Flash games for clients (which is what I do too) is a niche part of the web industry, and there is almost no overlap between this and the mainstream games industry. so I think it is foolish for us to suggest we know what the games industry needs. That being said, I agree that being either a programmer or an artist is 10x more useful than being a jack of all trades, master of none.

    1. Ryan Henson Creighton

      Service work is one side of the business – original productions is the other side. From building Flash web games for clients, it’s not a big jump to building Flash games for portal audiences. And from there, it’s not a huge leap to building those same games for audiences on mobile and digital distribution platforms (iOS, Android, XBLIG, PSN). And if you’re building a game for an audience on one of those platforms, is it … i mean, are we really that far off from the “mainstream”? (assuming that by “mainstream”, you’re taking the very narrow view of “real” games as being boxed products produced for home console systems)

  7. Brett

    It sounds like we’re talking about design in general. There will always be far more positions than “design” in many industries. Like anything else, making games is a business. Even after being a game designer for 14 years, its still common to see design in the backseat. Yes, I started as a level designer many years ago because it was an easy way to get ideas into action. Today, I find whatever tools I can to best express the design, using anything from Flash, UDK, Premiere, Visio, etc…you name it. That said, one would hope that design would always be evolving and expanding.

    So, while there are more and more people every day that can actually “do” and implement design, its harder than ever to find “good” designers that are moving things forward. Also, as a designer, I find that the best designers are the ones that can implement at some level. (in addition to understanding the tech being used, pipelines, etc..) Doesn’t matter where you start as long as you kep growing.

    1. Ryan Henson Creighton

      i’m concerned about the numbers. On any given game development team, compare the number of people who can implement (artists, programmers and sound designers) to the number of game designers on the team. 10:1, depending on the team? 20:1? Certainly not the other way around.

      Meanwhile, compare the number of kids either going into or coming out of a community college game design course. How many artists, programmers and sound designers are we graduating compared to the number of “video game designers”? It’s always been my position that education needs to serve the needs of industry. i think that by simply giving ’em what they want and taking their tuition money, colleges are just fostering the unrealistic attitude depicted in this video, to the benefit of no one.


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