Question: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve give a someone thinking about getting into development today?
I suppose it’s important to know that there isn’t one specific path to getting into games. When I went to university over a decade ago, I initially wanted to study games but felt that the landscape for education in the field wasn’t quite there at the time. I actually decided to study filmmaking in order to hone my understanding of visual and sonic storytelling and production, which as it would happen left me with the skills to break my way into the industry first as a sound designer, and later re-specialise as a game designer. Others I know didn’t even go into higher education, such as my co-founder Pavle Mihajlovic, who taught himself how to code and is now the Technical Director at Flavourworks.
When I started thinking about how to gain a better understanding of the games industry from the outside, first I directed my personal education towards games however I could, including doing a university dissertation on the intersection between film and games, which led to me researching game development practices in ways I hadn’t previously had the opportunity to do. This even led to connections with seasoned game development veterans who I reached out to for advice, and this would put me in good standing when eventually in a position to get job interviews at game studios. Importantly I also made an effort to immerse myself in game development communities, which are far more prevalent today with the growing online indie game development scene. Of course this scene is full of talented individuals who took their career into their own hands, teaching themselves, creating their own jobs, and innovating in ways that make them as valuable to the medium as huge AAA studios.
Particularly and conveniently for this piece, before I was due to graduate and enter the real world, I took advantage of the student discount at the Develop Conference and used the opportunity to learn more about game development from professional speakers at the conference, and made an effort to network with my future peers at the bar afterwards. It was an eye-opening week, and just as I was about to leave I thought I’d take one more look around the bar area. It was here that I would meet my future boss. The conversation would eventually lead to being employed by them. If I had left early without taking a final look around, I don’t know where I would be now. I attended again the following year and this led to meeting even more future employers. For that I am forever grateful to have events such as Develop. 9 years later, I feel so lucky to be asked to speak at conferences like this, and have loved every minute of the journey I took to this point.
My advise, therefore, is to not be perturbed by the notion that there is a “right” way to get into game development, that the industry is young enough for you to make a meaningful mark on it in your own way, and that networking can be a valuable way to start your career.
You can hear Jack's talk - Beyond Bandersnatch: Designing for Interactive Narrative and Live Action on Wednesday 10 July at 11.00
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Develop is a very important place – it’s one of the few developer focussed conferences we have in Europe and that makes it very valuable.
There really is a huge mix of people at Develop - loads of peers that you can learn from and the perfect blend of every element of game development as well.
A lot of the opportunities that come from being here are speaking to other developers who are doing exactly the same thing as you. And there are some good parties – it’s very much a pleasurable work experience!
Develop:Brighton is especially unique - it’s by the seaside and there’s a lovely relaxed tone that goes with that.The talks are cool, the networking is cool and having the opportunity to catch up with people – that’s always the excitement for me!
There’s something creative about Brighton, so it’s the perfect place to have the conference.
I really like Develop, I really like the intimacy of it and I love the location.. there’s a good diversity of talks going on so there hasn’t been a time when there’s nothing I want to see.
It’s really nice to see some of the younger people in our studio come to Develop, interact with other people in the dev community and make new contacts. I think it’s really important to learn from other people.
We are so lucky to have Develop here in the UK. It’s a unique event where you can come and discover new things with people who care passionately about video games. It’s a sea full of new ideas.
One of the things I like about Develop is it brings people together from across Europe and the whole world. There is a very high level of professionals here, so you have company leaders having drinks with juniors from their community.
Dr Mata Haggis-Burridge
Develop always gets put in the diary. There are many reasons to be here, not just the talks, but the networking, people exchanging ideas about where the industry is right now and where it’s going to. It’s pretty essential to be here I think.
Ian Livingstone, CBE
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