Five Tips for a Successful Career in Game Development

So you want to make video games? The first step in this noble goal is figuring out how to become a game developer and securing the job of your dreams. Here are five tips that will help you get there.

Five Tips for a Successful Career in Game Development

Follow a Specific Niche

Everyone wants to be an indie game developer, but you won’t succeed if you want to develop every genre. Choose a niche that you can make exciting games in, then focus on doing just that. If you love survival-horror games and do it well, there will be people who want to play your games.  As long as you have a dedicated fan base, you’ll find someone willing to publish your work or fund your next project. Even better, with specialized experience in one area of the industry, this person would be able to get their foot in the door at other studios as well.

Learn From the Masters

To get started, pick up a book or watch some tutorials on an existing game that interests you. Play it, get to know its systems and mechanics, try to understand why it’s fun. Once you feel comfortable with your game of choice, try making your own version; don’t be afraid to experiment, and pay attention to how and why things work as they do.  There's no wrong way to make games! Keep at it until you have something compelling.

Don’t Fall Prey to Shady Opportunities

A lot of students might be interested in game development because they believe it’s easy money, but it’s not. It takes hard work to make good games.  With that said, you need to think about what kind of company you want to work for. Do you want the big companies like Ubisoft or EA that require years of experience? Or do you want to work with indie developers who are more agile and have a smaller team? The more you know about your options and how each one works, the better decision you can make.

Your Personality Affects Your Ability to Network

When we ask people why they’re successful, almost all will tell you it’s because of their connections. It doesn’t matter if you want to be successful in music, fashion or business—it’s all about knowing someone who can help you get there. That said, not everyone is born a natural networker—and that doesn’t mean that these connections are out of reach.  You just need to put yourself out there. For example, one way you can do this is by attending networking events and other social gatherings where people with the connections you need are likely to show up. You'll have a better chance of making an impression on them (in person) than just sending an email asking for their connection's contact information.

Have Patience

Make sure you’re prepared to invest your time, energy and money into starting a career in game development. Creating video games takes lots of creative effort, time and patience—you can’t rush or cut corners when it comes to designing something that will capture people’s attention. Be prepared to do what it takes over an extended period of time before you see real success.  If you are just starting out, there are plenty of low-paying entry-level jobs where all you need is the passion and drive to succeed. But if this is your dream job, be ready to work hard for many years before you become successful.

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