Are you game?
What does it take to get into games development?
Games development is different to a lot of jobs in that everyone who does it wants to do it. If you don’t, then why start? It’s not like the world is lacking in computer games. It’s also different because having a passion for it is about all you need to get involved, you can pick up everything else along the way. So what’re you waiting for?
What do I need?
The truth is, not very much. If you want to programme games then obviously you’re going to have to be able to programme (and having a degree in something that involves a lot of programming is going to be a benefit). But the games development industry is pretty diverse and employs people qualified in everything from journalism to marketing to psychology.
Like any creative industry, what games developers really want is someone who can think differently to everyone else. So if you can come up with ideas that even surprise you, then proving that to employers is going to have more effect than anything on your CV. But ‘proving it’ is the important point. Employers aren’t going to invite you to an interview because you say you’re good at thinking up games concepts. If, however, you’ve created a simple game in your spare time then employers might not even wait for you to apply before offering you a job.
How do I get started?
Getting started is as easy as, well, getting started. As well as making games for fun before you make them for a living, doing everything else a games developer does will set you up for a job in the industry. For example, go to games meetings and talk to people in the industry.
Games development is a relatively young field, so networking isn’t about schmoozing and handing out business cards at private functions. It’s a lot more like hanging out in a community, admittedly one that’s really passionate about one thing.
Gamejams, weekends where developers get together and make games for fun, are really good ways to get to know people in the industry and to let them know what you can do.
Is it too late?
It’s never too late. Software updates itself so often that if you start now, you’ll be as clued-up as anyone else in a month or two. And that’s all the specialist knowledge there is. Most of it is open source and free to download too, so it won’t cost you a fortune to see if it’s for you.
All of which begs the question, what’re you waiting for?