In this episode of Game Industry Career Guide Podcast, I answer a question from John, who wants to know, How can I get an internship at a video game development studio? Do you have any advice for me?
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- All about game dev internship: What it is, how it works, and why you should care
- How to find the best internships – even the ones that aren’t advertised to the public
- Three key tips for landing an internship, even in the face of intense competition
Find game schools near you
Hello and welcome back to the Game Industry Career Guide Podcast. This is episode number lucky 13. I’m Jason W. Bay from GameIndustryCareerGuide.com, and this is the podcast where I answer your questions about getting a job and growing your career making video games.
Today’s question is from John. John writes, “I just want to say thank you for all the replies you’ve made so far. I’ve read almost all of them. In fact, I have already completed my Bachelor of Science degree, so I am looking for a job or internship. Do you have any advice for me?”
I think this is a question on a lot of people’s minds, because an internship is seen as a way to transition from game-related schooling to a real world job making games, and that’s exactly right.
But there are some ins and outs of any internship, plus there are quite a lot of students competing for the same internship positions.
So there are a few tricks that I’m going to share with you today for finding and getting and succeeding at an internship at a video game studio.
But let’s start with this. What is an internship exactly?
An internship is a special type of job that you can only get if you’re a student. It’s so that you can get on-the-job training while you finish your schooling.
Most internships are for college or university students only, but some might also accept high school students. Many college programs require or at least recommend that you do an internship as part of your coursework. Most will count an internship as credits towards your degree, which is awesome.
Most internships are unpaid, or when they are paid, the pay sometimes is really low. They’re also temporary, usually only for a few months or sometimes just a few weeks. So if an internship is low paid or even unpaid and it might only be for a few weeks, what’s the benefit?
Well, there is benefits to the company and there’s benefits for you, as the student. The benefits for the company are that they get an extra worker to help out in an actual game project, or sometimes on research in development project and they get it for cheap.
But sometimes even more importantly is that they get to test you out to see if you’re somebody that they’d like to hire full-time someday.
Now, the benefit to you as a student is that you get on-the-job, real-world training. But you also get a start making connections in the game industry. And those are connections that might come in very handy later on when you start to look for jobs full-time.
Getting hired full-time after an internship is not guaranteed, but if you do a good job during your internship, there is a high likelihood that that company will hire you after you graduate.
Even if you don’t get hired by that company, the fact that you’ve completed an internship will give you an edge over all the other entry-level job seekers that don’t have that same real-world experience. So it’s a clear advantage when it comes time to look for a job after graduation.
If you already know about internships, you might imagine that it’s a formal, structured process, like a class, but at a game studio instead of a classroom. In most cases, that could not be further from the truth. Oftentimes, the people that you’ll be working with on the game team are too busy with their own jobs, and they can’t spend too much time teaching you, at least not in a structured way.
But that’s okay, because honestly that’ll probably also be how you’ll learn once you get your first full-time job. There’s just not a lot of formal training at most video game studios. Just take the work that you get assigned, do your best job at it, and be sure to ask your manager or your lead whenever you have questions.
Most of what you’ll learn will come from the work that you’re doing, the questions that you ask, the answers that you get, and being able to see the work and interactions of the other professional game developers at the studio. So it’s not a formal education, but it’s a really excellent way to learn how to navigate a professional game development job.
Now, let’s talk about how to find and get an internship. For the most part, only the biggest companies or publishers have formal internship programs. So companies like Nintendo, Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, companies with many hundreds or even thousands of employees in multiple locations around the world. Those are the companies that have big enough resources to build and run a non-trivial internship program. So it’s easier to find open internship positions at those big companies because they often post to job boards.
So you can search using a job search engine like Indeed, or check game industry job boards like Gamasutra.com or GameJobHunter.com and a lot of times the big companies will post their openings for internships on those boards.
Another approach is a search for game companies near where you currently live, and then go to their corporate websites directly to look for open internship jobs that might be listed on their job’s page. Oftentimes, their internship jobs are posted there along with a page that explains their internship program and how it works and how to apply, which is really useful information for you at this point.
Now even though only the biggest companies usually have formal internship programs, smaller studios often also accept internships. But since they don’t have a formal program, you might need to be proactive and drive that process yourself.
Here’s how to do it.
One way is to apply using the normal job’s application form on their website, but then try to specify that you’re looking for an internship. And hopefully when they review the applications, they’ll spot that and they’ll pass you over to whoever is handling their internships. Oftentimes, that’s not possible because many smaller studios don’t even have an application form available on their websites. So another way is to get in touch with the studio directly to find out about their policies for internships. You can try emailing them or calling them if they have contact info listed on their website.
A third way which takes a little more effort, but it might be your only option if the first two don’t work, is to find out who the hiring managers are at the game studio that you want to work at as an intern, and then contact those hiring managers directly. I have a super clever little trick to help you out with this. It’s a bit devious but it can be really effective.
Here’s what you do: Go onto LinkedIn.com and search for managers by typing in the name of the company into the search box along with the phrase “human resources” or the company name along with the word “director” and the name of the department that’s applicable for you.
So for example, search for “Kixeye art director.” That will do a search for all of the art directors at that company or the engineering directors or whatever it is, once you find the profile of the director that you want, email them using LinkedIn and ask them whether they have any opportunities for an intern in their department and if so, how you can apply.
Just a quick side note: if LinkedIn doesn’t allow you to email the director because they’re not in your professional network on LinkedIn, you may need to upgrade to a paid account. It will cost a little bit of money, but it’s worth it to get access to the hiring managers that could help you get this internship.
Okay, let’s just wrap up by talking about a few tips for completing a successful internship. First of all, be flexible on the timing. Most studios could use the help any time on just about any projects that they’re currently working on, so you’ll want to let them know that you can start whenever they need you and finish whenever necessary.
Second, even though you’re “just an intern”, you still need to bring something valuable to the table. So make sure that you have skills that are helpful on a game team and be sure that you can prove that by showing your portfolio, if you’re an artist or a designer, and/or bypassing some code challenges if you’re a programmer.
And lastly, be somebody that they want to work with. Be friendly, positive, hardworking, and self-motivated, especially self-motivated. There might not any managers that have extra time to spend training you on the job, so they need to feel confident that you can learn well on your own and get work done without very much hand-holding.
Okay. That wraps up for today’s episode. Those are some good tips and guidance that will help you locate internships and get those internships and succeed once you get it. Thanks to John for this excellent question and thank you for sharing some time with me today.
If this info was helpful for you, please take a few seconds to leave me a review in iTunes. Your review will help others find this podcast and it will let me know that you like what you heard, so that I’ll keep making more episodes. Let me know! Leave a review on iTunes.
For more information and inspiration on getting and growing your job making video games, come visit me at GameIndustryCareerGuide.com. I’m Jason W. Bay. Thanks again and I’ll see you right here next time on the Game Industry Career Guide Podcast.
- Spend time on video game discussion boards. ...
- Build a gaming blog. ...
- Create your own games. ...
- Earn your college degree. ...
- Pursue entry level and internship roles. ...
- Work in a gaming studio.
- Game designer.
- Game artist.
- Sound engineer.
- Game programmer.
- Game level designer.
- Game tester.
- Game producer.
Qualifications. Although you can become a games developer with any degree subject, employers often look for a degree, HND or foundation degree in: computer games (development or design) computer games programming.How hard is it to get a job at a game studio? ›
“Although it is continually growing, the game industry is a competitive one…it is nearly impossible to get a game designer or producer job without prior development experience…if you have a portfolio of work you've done on your own, and many people have entered the game industry through entry-level jobs…”Can you get into the gaming industry with no experience? ›
A: You can land a job in the gaming industry even if you haven't had any professional game design or developer experience yet. One of the best ways to get experience is to build and complete your own games.How much do game studios pay? ›
The average salary for a Game Developer with 7+ years of experience is $123,343. The average salary for <1 year of experience is $141,250.Is working in a game studio fun? ›
It's serious work, with a lot of pressure, and sometimes, disappointment. The pay and benefits can be good, especially if you are working for a well-established studio or publisher, but for many people, there are also periods where you are out of work.Do you need a degree to work at a game company? ›
If you search for open jobs in the game industry, you might be disappointed to see that most postings seem to require a college degree. But in fact, many game jobs — from testing, to art, to production — actually do not require a degree.Can I be a game developer without coding? ›
Game studios such as Flowlab, Google Game Builder, Quick App Ninja, and Buildbox are just a few examples of the most entry-level game engines out there that help amateur game developers without a background in coding to design, drag and drop, and develop a game they're proud of without having to write a single line of ...What should I study if I want to be a game developer? ›
- Computer Games Programming.
- Computer Games (development or design)
- Games Technology.
- Computer Science.
- Software Engineering.
However, if you're an incoming college student or a working professional, you can take BS Entertainment and Multimedia Computing if you want to master the art of game making. You can also take a short game development course if want to upgrade your skills and refresh your knowledge in the field.What do game studios look for when hiring? ›
Ultimately, gaming companies are much like other top tech companies in that they are looking for a candidate who adds value to their organization. While the specific skills may vary from role to role, a candidate's willingness to go the extra mile and showcase their talent and personality will serve them well.What is the highest paid gaming job? ›
- Gameplay Engineer. Salary range: $81,500-$170,000 per year. ...
- Game Engineer. Salary range: $94,500-$155,500 per year. ...
- Senior Game Advisor. Salary range: $31,000-$128,000 per year. ...
- Game Developer. Salary range: $83,500-$124,500 per year. ...
- Senior Game Developer. ...
- Gameplay Programmer. ...
- Game Programmer. ...
- Game Tester.
|Job Title||Average Salary||Top 10% Salary|
Gaming as a career is always a viable choice. There is plenty of jobs in the gaming market in various fields. Game developers employ thousands of people, so do esports tournament companies and esports teams. There is plenty of jobs in gaming and all the industries tied to playing video games.Is it hard to get a job at Nintendo? ›
The hiring process at Nintendo is relatively thorough. The company leans towards candidates that are exceptional in their field with excellent soft skills. They only accept applications through their official website and not through any other channels.Can you get a job by playing video games? ›
By becoming a game tester, you will gain access to the latest pre-released games. This is a great career for those who love playing video games. The video game industry is growing, and a report by Statista found that the industry will be worth $138 billion by 2021. The image below shows the growth of the industry.How do you get a job at a game studio? ›
- Post your work on discussion boards. ...
- Start a gaming blog. ...
- Build your own indie games. ...
- Get an entry-level job as a Game Tester. ...
- Get an internship at a video game studio. ...
- Get a video-game related college degree. ...
- Get a traditional college degree.
While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $146,500 and as low as $20,000, the majority of Entry Level Game Developer salaries currently range between $31,000 (25th percentile) to $90,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $123,500 annually across the United States.Is it easy to get a job as a game developer? ›
6. Get an entry-level game developer position. Getting started in the video game industry can be challenging for new entrants. If you have advanced skills and a very well-polished portfolio, you may be able to get a job at once with a major game studio.
Few jobs are without stress, but many people who make video games have to deal with a type of emotional strain that most office workers likely aren't familiar with: Daily abuse and threats from the people who consume the wares they create.Can you make a living playing video games? ›
Yes, it's possible to get paid for playing video games. One of the most lucrative opportunities to make money playing games is being a popular streamer or content creator, but you don't need millions of fans to start making money.What age can you work at game? ›
How old do you have to be ? You must be 18 years old to work at game.What careers are in demand for game companies? ›
- Retail sales associate.
- Game tester.
- Technical support specialist.
- Audio engineer.
Video game designers often need a bachelor's degree to enter the field, which takes four years of full-time study. Employers may prefer professionals with coding experience. In some cases, aspiring designers may substitute a degree for coding skills learned through a bootcamp.Is Unity difficult to learn? ›
If you already know how to program, learning Unity should not be too difficult. However, learning Unity may be much more complicated if you are new to programming. Keep in mind that you need to be able to code in C# to use Unity effectively.How much do game coders make? ›
According to Payscale, video game programmers earned an average yearly salary of $63,400 as of July 2022. The top 10% made $90,000. Zippia reports that the average entry-level salary for game programmers was $65,000 as of August 2022, with the top 10% earning $134,000.Can a non gamer be a game developer? ›
Almost always, yes. Early in my game dev career, though, I met a few game developers who weren't really into gaming. One was a software engineer and just took a game development job because it was the best one available when he was looking for work. Another, the best producer I ever had, wasn't really a gamer.Are game developers in demand? ›
According to GamesIndustry.biz, salary and work abroad opportunities appear to be the key motivators for moving jobs. All this results in high demand for game developers.What is the difference between game developer and game programmer? ›
Game development is the overall process of a video game production (from initial concept to distribution), whereas game programming is one part of game development—specifically software development, which involves writing the code that drives a video game.
- A passion for video games.
- Wide-ranging knowledge of gaming trends.
- Strong analytical frame of mind.
- Ability to work as part of a team.
- Proficiency in programming languages, such as C# and C++
Yes, a bachelors in game design is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting an employment growth in computer systems design and related services, specifically 22% in the applications software development industry over the next 10 years.What qualifications do I need to work in the gaming industry? ›
- design skills and knowledge.
- analytical thinking skills.
- the ability to write computer code.
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail.
- maths knowledge.
- the ability to come up with new ways of doing things.
- the ability to use your initiative.
- complex problem-solving skills.
- Get a degree. Some game companies require concept artists to have a degree in game art, graphic design, or 3D digital art. ...
- Expand your skillset. Concept art goes beyond your ability to create 2D sketches. ...
- Create a portfolio. ...
- Network. ...
- Search for positions.
- Computer Science. One of the best degrees for a gaming career is computer science. ...
- Video Game Programming and Development. ...
- Computer Animation. ...
- Interactive Media Design and Game Art. ...
- Software Engineering. ...
- Computer Engineering. ...
- Sound Production. ...
- Graphic Design.
Most video game designers have a bachelor's degree in graphic design, multimedia design or a related field. Some universities offer a degree specifically for video game design. Coursework usually includes software engineering, 2D and 3D animation, programming languages and computer design.Is gaming a high paid job? ›
Does the gaming industry pay well? Yes, the gaming industry pays quite well compared to other industries. The highest-paying video game jobs are designers, quality assurance testers, and developers. They earn between $101,000 and $130,000 per year.What age is the average gamer? ›
In 2021, it was reported that the age distribution of U.S. gamers were 20% under the 18 years old, 38% were in between 18 to 34 years old, 14% were in between 35 to 44 years old, 12% were in between 45 to 54 years old, 9% were in between 55 to 64 years old, and 7% were 65 years old or over.Is it hard to get a job as a game artist? ›
"Getting your first job [as a game artist] is often tough," Teazelcat CEO and game director Jodie Azhar says. "Game art jobs are highly competitive. Roles such as concept artist and character artist can have hundreds of applicants for one role.Is being a game artist hard? ›
Becoming a game designer is just as hard as getting into any other career, but with added competition and the need to be constantly fresh and relevant. However, by applying yourself and keeping your long-term goals in mind, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling career as easy to progress through as anything.
While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $143,500 and as low as $17,000, the majority of GAME Artist salaries currently range between $41,500 (25th percentile) to $81,500 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $132,000 annually across the United States.What job is to come up with video game ideas? ›
In this job, you'll come up with the concepts that eventually become video games. You'll develop the storylines and characters, then work with a creative team of designers and developers through the game production process to bring your game to life.
Yes, a bachelors in game design is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting an employment growth in computer systems design and related services, specifically 22% in the applications software development industry over the next 10 years.What jobs are involved in video games? ›
- Video Game Designer.
- Video Game QA Tester.
- Video Game Programmer.
- Video Game Artist/Animator.
- Video Game Audio Engineer.
- Video Game Producer.
Being a game developer is a dream job for anyone who is passionate about software development and the gaming industry. For those who are looking to build better experiences, better games, and the new frontier of gameplay possibilities, this career is ideal.Can you make a living as a gamer? ›
Twitch has become one of the most popular sites for gaming across the globe. It's the go-to site for video gamers to earn money streaming their gameplay. As your following grows, you'll start to earn subscription and donation revenue. Top streamers make 6- and even 7-figures a year!