How To Get Into the Gaming Industry ala Blizzard Style

by Leea Harlan

The panel was all Q&A, and consisted of a person from each part of their design process. There was also someone from HR I believe, but it was mostly people from the part of the business that makes games. In other words there were no accountants on the panel. 100_3352

 Q: What sort of skills are most important for someone looking to work in character design/modeling?

 A: You should be a good artist. What software you have been using to develop your talent is not as important as that you have talent and have learned how to display it. A portfolio that displays that talent is the most important part of your application. In addition, your portfolio should include many examples of the specific thing you are into. So if you want to do character design, you don’t need examples of animations or programming samples.

Q: For a recent graduate with a degree in computer engineering, what recommendations do you have for someone who is trying to decide on a career path?

A: Look into a Quality Assurance position because it puts you in a place to see all the parts of the game development process. Also, it puts you in contact with individuals working on each part of the process. This should be done in a company with good internal mobility, so that you can train into another department from QA.

Q: I have worked with pen and paper RPG’s for a while and I am wondering if this experience could translate into level design for the computer gaming industry?

A: Yes it does help because it has given you an idea of what part of game development you are interested and some ideas about what to do, however it does need to be translated. The design you have been doing needs to be applied to the computer gaming arena. Also, the work with pen and paper games may encompass many parts of the game and you should consider picking a specialized piece to work on with computer gaming.100_3323

Q: With all the new degrees that are beginning to be offered for game development, which is the most useful to get hired?

A: Having talent matters more than the title on a degree, which is not to say that school doesn’t matter. Going to a good school where you can develop your talent is very useful. But the talent is what is being looked at with the resume and hiring process. An education is noteworthy, but a good portfolio is where it is at. Also, projects that display initiative during school are very important: senor projects, outside work, theses, etc..  **

Q: How do you get into audio development?

A: Build a portfolio to submit with a resume. To gain experience you can offer your musical services for free on some projects, just to get your work out there.

Q: Where do you start without software experience or any specific degree?

A: Find a skill and an area to work in, and develop your skill. Go into the industry at the bottom and work your way up. This kind of experience is crucial, especially if you have your sights set on something like director of animation or game designer, where you would need to be very familiar with all the parts of the process.

Q: For someone who is interested in programming, what are your thoughts on mods and the Lua language?

A: Blizzard loves to see mods (WoW, WIII, or other games) from programmers who are interested in games programming. It displays their ability to complete a project and their proficiency with the tools used for those games. As for Lua, it is a high performance scripting language. The high performance was the deciding factor, we needed a language that was fast, fast, fast. Also, it easily integrates to C++.

Q: What is the internship program like at Blizzard?

A: First of all, they are not making coffee and washing execs cars. They get put to work right away on live projects, that are important to the overall process. The internships are twelve weeks long over the summer. The program should start taking applications in October with a January 31st deadline for summer 2010. The internship program is available to college students from any college or university.

++ at this point one of the panelists makes a side note:  People hate hiring, so make the hiring process as easy as possible. Do things with the products they are producing. As an example, if you are applying to Blizzard as a programmer write a WoW mod. It displays that you will be able to get the job done once you are hired. Skip the flowery nonsense in the objectives portion of your resume, just write the exact position you want.

Q: How separated are the financial and operations side of Blizzard from the game development part? I do not hear much talk about getting into that side of things.

A: They are pretty separated because business is business and is not that involved with the games necessarily. Getting these jobs at Blizzard is more difficult because there aren’t as many of them, and people do not leave them very often. Although that part of the business is somewhat separated, a love for games is a big bonus when trying to get hired for one of those types of positions.

Q: I am looking to start from the bottom and work my way up? How do I go about that?

A: Start in Quality Assurance, it is a good place to get acquainted with the game development process. Do your job well and then learn beyond your job. Be clear about your intention to develop, and find a company that encourages it.

Q: Is a game specific degree more valuable to getting hired?

A: Most of the schools offering these degrees are new and their effectiveness in turning out competent workers is not entirely proven. And no degree will make up for lack of talent. So the most important thing such a program can do is spend more time allowing you to develop your talent. You still need to take initiative and develop thoroughly a very specific talent you want to have, because even a game specific degree is usually a broad education, and depth is what is needed.

Q: What is the path to become a game (or game systems) designer?

A: There is no specific place these people are hired from. The skill set for the job must be developed and this is usually done by working up from lower positions in the process.

Q: How do you get into the story-telling part of game development?

A: A love for creative writing is essential. Also, time spent developing a skill for creative writing. Spend time writing quests, or quest packs to develop a talent for writing that is specific to gaming. Practice at any kind of writing will be helpful to this skill.

Q: What is the best way to break in with an already developed skill set that comes from entirely different industry? Like analytic development and data visualizations in the medical industry.

A: Come talk to us after the panel [it pretty much sounded like this guy just got hired lol]

Q: What skill set are you looking for in concept artists?

A: Painting style, but inking or charcoal would be fine also. Photoshop, or corel painter. What medium is used isn’t quite as important as the ability to produce art that fits in with what is being developed in the company. Quite often story-board artists and such work as a team, they have to be able to produce with the same vision in mind.

Q: For hiring programmers, what consideration for mod programming and reverse engineering is there?

A: There is great consideration for these endeavors. The ability to write modifications is part of the development process. Having done those things creates a talent for the debugging process as well. We hired one of the guys who hacked the Xbox J

Themes I saw in the panel:

–Put together a strong portfolio specific to the job (or internship) you are applying for

–A strong portfolio contains finished projects: a complete game modification, a fully developed character, a completed animated segment, a complete game (even if it uses stick figures).

–Apply often, it isn’t the easiest industry to get a job in, be determined.

–Be willing to work your way up in a company, especially if you are not entirely sure which part of the development process appeals to you most.

–A college degree is good, but nothing is more important than talent and the initiative to develop it.


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8 Responses to “How To Get Into the Gaming Industry ala Blizzard Style”

  1. Parker Fitzgerald Says:

    This was extremely flippin helpful. Thanks so much!

  2. Trenton Laney Says:

    Find this blog fantastic. Hope to see it further when i have more time. If your looking for a job, visit our site.Thanks

  3. CoolAmp Says:

    im really liking your blog and your writing style. we share a lot of the same interest. im @ home of the Hi Tech Gadget Reviews,Software, Tutorials, Music, Wallpapers, Celebrity Gossip, Videos,and More.

  4. Yoshi Kirishima Says:

    Thanks a bunch! Very informative 😀

  5. Taylor Kyzer Says:

    I am currently a freshmen in college and I plan to major in Computer Programming. When should I apply for an internship with Blizzard? And, does it matter that I live in Arkansas?

    • tmee3 Says:

      Get as much experience under your belt and start involving yourself in projects. By your 3rd year you should apply for an internship with any type of software development. It would be great if you can get something with a game development background. If you want to work for Blizzard, unfortunately they do not have any offices in Arkansas so you would have to move near any of their regional offices.

  6. Shawn Says:

    I just want to work for blizzard and do any job in the Warcraft zone…ill even take the trash out…lol

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