We get a lot of questions from people asking how they kickstart a career in the Games Industry, so we thought we would open it up to the studio and get the lovely folk of Lionhead to share their personal stories and recommendations. Enjoy!
Charlton Edwards – Lead Level Designer
I started by getting work experience at Lionhead in Testing. By getting on well with people and working hard I got into various contract testing jobs and those contacts eventually paid dividends when I was recalled to Lionhead to become a fulltime tester.
From there I learned the in-house editor and rose up the ranks on each project. As long as you show initiative and passion, and make as many contacts as possible then anyone can make it, degrees or not. The door won’t open for you by itself though…you need to push it hard.
James Blackham – Senior Scripter
I got into the industry by building levels and little games in my spare time. A lot of people think that you just need to play games but if you actually have something that people can play, look at, read or hear then you’re miles ahead of everyone else
Ted Timmins – Designer
When I finished college, I sent my extremely limited CV to every videogame company under the sun! Lionhead Studios were the only company to respond to my letter, and invited me in for a 1 week Work-Experience. I was then offered a 1 month contract as a Tester on Fable. 1 month became 3 months, 3 months became 6, and 8 years later I found myself as the Lead Designer on Fable Heroes. A lot of people find opportunities through University Degrees, but regardless of what route you try to take my one piece of advice is very simply; work hard, and be passionate about what you do! If you’re a gamer like I am, the latter comes very easily!
David Eckelberry – Game Director
You’ll pardon me if this sounds familiar, but how I got started in games seems a bit unusual. Especially for someone in the industry today. I started out as a “professional” game designer with paper-based games: board games, card games, and roleplaying games such as Dungeons & Dragons. And while that’s a bit odd, just how I get started with those types of games eighteen years ago was through much the same way that I tell anyone seeking to get a start in video games. The advice is simple: start making things. For me back in the 1990s, that meant writing my own game material, writing freelance for magazines, and prototyping my own card games. Today, if you’re a designer, that could mean making your own iOS game. Modding an existing game. Making user generated content for an existing game. Or building your own levels in Unreal or whatever.
Years later, as I look at job candidates, if I have someone that has proven they have the skillset, not in paper or from a degree or class, but by showing what they’ve done – even as an amateur – they’re far more likely to be hired.
Jenny Peers – GUI Artist
Ever since I played my first computer game in my early teens, I knew I wanted to work in the games industry. I have always had a love for art, graphics and computers. I focused on these subjects in my school years and started learning digital painting and website design in my spare time. After constantly tweaking my own portfolio website and learning various web design solutions, I was given the opportunity to create a website and product packaging for a local business. A mile away from the games industry but it was a good start to getting professional commissioned work in my portfolio. From this point I continued creating websites, graphics and artwork making sure to update my portfolio with new quality work. After my A levels I decided to go to university, I was able to get a place on a BA Hons Computer Games Design course at Newport in South Wales. The course was really helpful in that it taught me about the theory of game design as well as practical skills such as concepting, animation, 3D Modelling, working in small and large teams. I did a lot of extra work in my spare time, especially in my final year where I teamed up with my flat mate and made a 3D platform adventure game using UDK called Thread Bear. Throughout my study I continued to keep my portfolio and design blog updated, making sure to show a range of skills and my learning process. I presented my portfolio in the format of a printed book along with a DVD demo reel. Presentation of work is just as important as the quality of the work itself. I was lucky enough to get an interview at Lionhead shortly after completing my degree and have been thrilled to be working as a GUI artist for them since. I love my job as it provides a good balance of technical and creativity which I have been doing since creating my first website.