Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Independent Gaming a Hiring Market

I have had to rethink my standard response to students who come asking about internships and jobs in game development. I use to say that it was less like looking for a job in the software industry and more like looking for a job in the film industry.

Having worked in television in my youth, I remember it to be exciting, fun and low paying. It allowed me to travel, meet celebrities, do creative work and compete daily against others who wanted my job. My experiences working around, though not in, film weren’t much different, though you could always count on a story of some independent filmmaker making good.

Lately I have experienced a change, due to a high demand market for CS and CE graduates. Several years ago a team of three students did an amazing job for a Seattle game company and gained some great experience. What they didn’t get was paid, or a job offer at the end of the project for the lead.

However, over the last year there have been three instances of students getting internships and hires into Washington gaming companies.

First, a student got a paid internship at a virtual world company that paid. Though they worked primarily on health related treatments, the experience could be ported to gaming.

Then, two instances a go a student approached me about interning at a game company. I explained to him the procedure for registering the internship opportunity as a course with credit pending a faculty sponsor. I was about to explain the wage thing when he stopped me. He knew about all that. He wanted advice on how to put together a license for the game engine he was providing to the company, which was hiring him under contract.

Then a few weeks ago, while prepping for a Summer internship a student stopped by to complete the prerequisite paperwork. It was for a Seattle based casual gaming company and he had a question about pay. As I opened my mouth to warn him not to be disappointed with the level of pay, he continued that rather than take internship pay they wanted to hire him on full time now.

I have to reset my preconceptions. So I did some cursory searches online and found some interesting articles on gaming. If anything, with the introduction of better technology, it looked like there was an emerging market for the independent game developer, just like the independent film maker.

CNN had a good piece yesterday on Indie video game designers breaking through. In some ways they repeated my former position, but explained that with new distribution deals for gaming consoles being developed, opportunities have increased. Creating a successful game was still a huge undertaking, but could be done.

If you are looking for information and support in creating an independent title, IndieCade 2008 might be a good starting point.

Even though it is a young industry, gaming is a 25 billion dollar industry worldwide with 10.5 of that being the United States slice of the pie chart.

I will not be so dismissive of the opportunities in the future, and hope to see some game development growth here in the South Puget Sound as well.

1 comment:

Andrew Becherer said...

It could also be that a rising tide lifts all boats. The following was printed in the Seattle PI today, "The Seattle area added the greatest number of high-tech jobs in 2006, outpacing Boston, San Francisco and more than 50 other U.S. cities, according to the Cybercities report from the American Electronics Association."