When a mysterious item called Job Hunting 101 with Eastside games appeared on our schedules, most of us students did not really know what to expect or what to make of this invitation. Yet the Design Theater was packed to the brim on Friday, May 3rd for this event, which was the first in a series and featured Josh Nilson of Eastside Games, as well as two VFS Game Design alumni currently working there, who talked about the hiring process and the development landscape here in Vancouver.
The talk was moderated by Josh Nilson, founder of Eastside Games, who brought to the table a lot of experience and talked himself into different jobs and made a few mistakes that caused a lot of amusement amongst the audience.
With him were Game Design alumni, Kay Chan and Josh Wood, who are now both valuable members of the Eastside Games team.
Kay Chan is a graduate of Game Design’s 22nd graduating class, and is now an associate producer at Eastside Games. After graduating with The Mask of Qi in her portfolio, she was so in demand that they all but created a position for her. Now she does analytics, which is hugely important in the social games landscape. Look it up, people!
Josh Wood is now a junior programmer and managed to make himself so invaluable that their senior programmer calls for help when he is on vacation.
Josh Nilson talked about the evolution of the development landscape in Vancouver and how it is representative of the current state of the industry. Where before there were a few big companies employing many people, now there are quite a few medium-sized companies and many smaller ones. Thanks to the Indie movement, and with the mobile and social market on the rise, it is now smaller teams, shorter development cycles and there is much, much more opportunity out there, despite what the media might tell you.
The most important point for us current Game Design students though, was when Josh talked about how to get ourselves out there. Here are some of the advice points he spoke about:
Stalk, but the right way!
Follow “your company” on Twitter, Facebook or other social media outlets. Not the creepy way though. Josh compared the process of job hunting to “wooing a potential spouse.” You want to show your interest and be genuine while you’re effectively trying to sell yourself as a potential valuable member of their team, who can contribute to their success.
Go to the meetups: to the unity meetups, the full indie meetups — that is where you have the chance of having a beer with the founder or CEO of one of those studios. This is one of the things that is possible now and was not possible before. They’re no longer faceless suits, and they have their ears to the ground!
In smaller companies, culture is hugely important. These are the people with whom you work and often spend more time than your family or spouse, and you want to be able to imagine enjoying all that time with them. Be professional, but also be prepared to do crazy stuff, like fencing or Yoga or catered lunches. Spoiled much, you think? But be prepared to work fiercely to get that title shipped!
The Job Hunting 101 was truly an uplifting, entertaining way to spend a Friday afternoon and it presented us with a valuable glimpse at how to apply for a job, and also gave us a view of the manifold opportunities out there. More than one whispered conversation was heard throughout the corridors of the VFS game design campus afterwards. We’re looking forward to the next talk, that’s for sure!