Comment & Opinion

How to rethink your dream and pursue a career in games

How to rethink your dream and pursue a career in games

Erik Reynolds is VP of marketing at Mobalytics.gg. This article is part of our Jobs in Games Special.

For many people, getting a job in games is a dream. I’m here to share that if you have a skill that is transferable and a passion for the industry, there is a career waiting for you.

Getting a job post-college can be tough. Sometimes you have to take what comes along and that can lead you down any number of paths like business management, marketing, sales or accounting at a dead-end job.

Your parents are happy, your student loan is being paid on-time but you can’t help but think to yourself that the dream is dead.

I’m here to tell you that your dream is very much alive. You just might have to adjust your expectations a bit.

My story began with a simple goal: Get to Los Angeles (from Oklahoma) and get a job in entertainment.

I loved music, TV, film and video games, but I had no clue how to break into any of these industries. I ended up getting a job as an external consultant for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

It wasn’t glamorous; it didn't pay well but it helped me afford an apartment. It was a blessing that I’m eternally thankful for because it also led to a chance encounter to interview for a job that would be the beginning of my 20-year career in the video games industry.

Why am I sharing this? Because I want to demystify what a career in the industry and breaking-in may be for many of you on the outside looking in.

The three things HR folks and hiring managers look for in a candidate from outside the industry:

  • Passion for games (of all types)
  • A transferable skill set
  • A good attitude about getting your foot in the door

I got my first job in video games because I communicated these three concepts in the interview. I loved games and though a job working for Nintendo would be fantastic, but I'd never thought twice about working in PR or at a PR agency. So I adjusted my expectations.

Second, I demonstrated a transferable skill set. I learned very quickly how to bring people together around a shared goal or concept. That’s what I did for LAUSD, I helped bring teachers, parents and students together around ideas to improve public schools. This was very transferable to public relations.

I’m here to tell you that your dream is very much alive. You just might have to adjust your expectations a bit.

Finally, I was just happy to be working adjacent to a creative industry like games and happy that it was a brand I grew up playing like Nintendo, which at that time was in a lull in popularity as Sony was crushing it with the PlayStation and Sega’s Dreamcast was certainly the most advanced system on the market.

I was just happy to be there, to be considered and to join the incredible team of Golin PR people striving to support Nintendo of America.

It's not just about making the games

These three things are key but I’m going to focus on one of them for the purpose of demystifying a major source of angst out there. There’s one assumption out there that sends a lot of qualified people down the wrong path to break into the games industry. Many people think that everyone in the industry makes games.

Seriously, I’ve been talking to students and people early in their career for years and this is a common thread. Many people focus on the product, not the business, because their dream never conceived of the thousands of supporting roles that help get games into the hands of players.

So if you have a passion and a transferable skill then the dream is very much alive for you. You just have to adjust your expectations. The industry needs accountants, journalists, business managers, people managers - the list goes on.

From large companies to indie studios, from marketing firms to media outlets, there are jobs all over the industry that are just as important as any role at your favourite developer.

"But Erik, my dream is to make Half-Life 3!" Great, but you are an executive assistant at a law firm, so maybe looks for a similar role at Valve instead of submitting your resume for producer roles. You’ll get your foot in the door and you’ll have a decent shot to get to know the people who can make those decisions (we’re all praying for your success).

The industry needs accountants, journalists, business managers, people managers - the list goes on.

The industry needs accountants, lawyers, executive admins who love Half-Life, League of Legends and Dark Souls. We need people who know how SEO works or how to file benefits for hundreds of employees.

You don’t have to learn to program to be invited to this party (but you’ll make more money than anyone else so go do that if you are good at math).

So go out there and look for your job, not your dream job and you will discover a dream career.

To my friends in the industry who may come across this article, you have a responsibility too. We all have a responsibility to open doors to people who are different than us, who didn’t have the same college careers as us but made the most of their educational opportunity.

We owe this to the industry because new perspectives are good for business. Open doors and watch these passionate people transform this industry for the next 20 years because their dreams and passion for games blessed us with the careers we have now.

About Erik Reynolds:

Erik Reynolds is a 20-year veteran of the video games, esports, tech and entertainment industries and VP of Marketing for Mobalytics.gg. Reynolds has worked with some of the most famous brands and talent in video games and entertainment to help them craft their public story, go-to-market strategy and deliver those narratives in an engaging and audience-friendly manner. He’s currently climbing the ranked ladder in League of Legends.


Comments

No comments
View options
  • Order by latest to oldest
  • Order by oldest to latest
  • Show all replies