Building a career is hard enough, but building one in game development? Good luck! You’ll definitely need it, along with a well-crafted portfolio. But if you think a portfolio with three references and 2-3 work examples is enough, well, it’s a good thing you’re reading this article. As it turns out, a portfolio is very much the kind of thing that’ll last a lifetime, continuously getting better—and more filled—as time goes on. What you once considered great work opportunities turn into those “maybe I shouldn’t list this one on here” kind of positions. Soon, the bigger fish you have to fry fill it, and you’re set on your way to success.
But to get to that point, there’s a few key things your portfolio absolutely needs to have right now.
No, 2-3 work examples isn’t enough. On the low end, if all you have is three examples, feel free to list those, but be prepared to work on small projects. Casting a net out to sea, to attract AAA developers takes at least five work examples, all published/launched.
If it seems daunting, don’t let it discourage you. Everyone starts off small in the industry, usually with indie, QA, or both. Just be prepared to feel like a little bit of a charity case or a guppy in a shark tank, as QA isn’t glamourous. In fact, the hours are long, and the work is underpaid. More so, you won’t be playing the entire game, only a part of it, over and over and over . . .
What makes this better is having a break into the industry, while portfolio building. Saying you were part of a project, even on a small scale, gets you noticed, especially if the project proves successful. Just make sure the samples you add in clearly define what you do in games, and how good at it you actually are.
Ensure You Showcase Versatility
Contrary to popular belief, not all samples have to be game related. For instance, if you’re a game writer, it’s important to have a strong background in writing all types of content, from online articles, to novels, and of course, games. In fact, about 2-3 examples of work within the same skill set done outside of games is crucial. This shows potentially hiring teams that you’re versatile and talented. More so, it shows you know how to juggle projects, and aren’t afraid of tight deadlines, both valuable traits in the gaming industry.
Serious Contact Information
Here’s a good one. A lot of people are guilty of this: not answering your phone if you don’t recognize a phone number. Bad idea. It could be your next job offer calling, but you’re none the wiser! Sure, you could get an email from a studio, or another developer, but truth be told, in any creative industry, you have to make yourself available. It’s how you land work and put food on the table. So maybe it’s time to fork over that $8 a year to make your website domains private.
If you want to get hired, make sure you start either picking up, or just avoiding the situation by just adding in your email. You won’t avoid it then.
Link Up Your Portfolio
Yes, social. It’s a huge thing in most career settings these days, and they will judge you based on your activity. If you are a writer, your feed better be heavy on the writing tweets. If you’re a level designer, add links to your work, and tweet some images of it every so often. It shows you know what you’re doing, and that you’re dedicated. This is about marketing yourself, and establishing yourself within an industry filled with competition.
That means no images of alcohol! No arguments with people! No drama. Oh, and don’t bash your employer. If they pay you pinecones for your effort, keep it to yourself. Grace, professionalism, and trustworthiness go a long way in such a (surprisingly) small field.
Want to know something hiring managers absolutely hate? When they find a portfolio they love, and no contact information. Or a promising portfolio, and no resume. Or no cover letter. How about a business card every once in awhile?
Professionals have must-haves to include with their applications, and it’s not enough to submit a promising portfolio either. Ensure that you always include a clear and concise business card, as well as a resume and cover letter. Everything should be polished and ready to submit to someone at a moment’s notice, with minor tweaks, of course. Otherwise, while you might be the perfect candidate for a job, hiring managers will toss you to the “oh, well” pile and find someone who can be contacted. They have no time to waste, and there are many other people out there trying to get the same job anyway.
Portfolio building is tricky! Getting work samples is tough, especially while managing a day job. However, having one doesn’t guarantee solid footing either. The gaming industry relies heavily on excellence, and applying with anything less will get you nowhere. Up your chances of landing a job by crafting a promising resume and cover letter, just as everybody else, and add in some flair with captivating business cards, and links to your gaming-related social media accounts.
Best of luck!