GDC 2011: Day 3-5 Expo and Career Pavilion

Wednesday through Friday contained the Expo and Career Pavilion, in which lots of the cool new hardware and software of the industry were shown off to the press and… well… the industry. The Career Pavilion is where hopeful future industry employees got to talk to a wide variety of professionals and HR people about how best to proceed to get into the industry.

Day 5 also included the Game Career Seminar, in which important people in the industry held very specific seminars about getting your first job, and even did private portfolio reviews for a couple hours.

Getting Hired Tips:

  • “Your worst piece is your most remembered piece.” Thus, get rid of your worst work ASAP
  • It’s not enough to simply have your website and portfolio. It’s important to get known in the communities you’re trying to be a part of, such as, This sort of community involvement generates both contact and experience, which is why I’m now a member of Polycount and will be making use of it once Thesis ramps down.
  • Show your portfolio in such a way that provides easy access to the awesomeness. People don’t want to waste a lot of time looking for the cool parts of your portfolio. Don’t waste their time with crazy flash galleries and things like that. The work will speak for itself.
  • The note of “Focus!” came up a lot, but it’s tempered by the fact that everyone wants someone with a wide variety of skills. I think it was best summed up by Seth Gibson: “Don’t be a scalpel [really good at one very specific thing] or a Swiss Army Knife [having a broad range of talents]. Your goal should be to be a Swiss Army Knife with a scalpel attached.”
  • That said, it’s possible to be too focused. For example, I love vehicles, but there aren’t exactly a lot of job listings for Junior Vehicle Modelers, so I need to broaden my portfolio a little bit.
  • Load your portfolio with things you’re passionate about. You don’t want to get hired to come in every day and do work you hate.
  • It never hurts to show Process. Knowing how you think is important to prospective employers.
  • Attention to detail is key. Know how the things you’re creating should work, and use your attention to detail to infuse them with backstory.
  • “There’s a big difference between ‘no’ and ‘not right now.’ ” Most of the time, not getting the job is a side-effect of needing to give something a bit more polish or applying for the wrong job at the wrong time.
  • It’s neither what you know, nor who you know. It’s both. Who you know and what you know are equally important.
  • Learn every lesson you can from everyone you can. You never know when it might prove valuable.
  • Be picky about who you work for. If a company tries to hire you to work on a crappy product, remember, that crappy product will be on your resumé for a while.
  • Establish a voice rather than simply parroting what you expect the industry will want.
  • Know your weaknesses, and then work on them.

    On the Expo side of things:

    • The 3DS excites me, more because of its remakes of classic games from my favorite of Nintendo’s past consoles. The 3D kinda hurt (it was also very picky about viewing angle, which meant it started to hurt my arms, not just my eyes after a while), but when I turned it down, Ocarina of Time seemed, from the brief demo I got, like it had aged rather well since 1998, or at least triggered the Nostalgia Center of my brain pretty severely.
    • Spy Party is shaping up to affect the same parts of my brain that keep scheming about Diplomacy long after the turn orders have been submitted and long before they’re due. Having finally played instead of just reading the blog, I’m very excited about it.
    • The Octodad team seemed to have a pretty effective marketing plan, in that it got me to wait patiently enough to actually play a game at IGF that wasn’t Spy Party: “Free Shirts… if you play our game.”

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