Updated: Sep 20, 2018
Finding out how to get game dev experience can be hard as a sound designer, composer, or as an artist in general. Many jobs that seem entry-level can actually “require” experience. There are a few ways you can improve your value and get experience without working for a company for free.
If you want to get into making games as a career, these are some of the ways you should try to get game dev experience in any discipline.
Game jams are events where a group of people will get together and separate either into teams or go at it alone in the case of solo-devs. Programmers, visual artists, audio artists, and other fields will work together on making a game in a short period of time.
This can be as short as 24 hours and even up to 1 month in some cases. But, there are probably some that are shorter and some longer. This makes a great opportunity to get some experience while not derailing your schedule.
A great benefit to these is that you have the opportunity to work with some really experienced developers one-on-one. With time being short, you also are driven to learn much faster.
Here are some popular game jams that happen every year that you may be interested in.
If you learn about the different roles in game development, you can become more familiar with how everything works and what it takes to make a game. Don’t aim to be an expert in everything either, just have a general understanding of other fields.
What is even more helpful, is getting to know the process that surrounds your discipline. For example, if you’re in audio it can help to learn about implementation, optimal file format/size, and version control such as git.
Getting to know these will help you communicate your ideas better, deliver optimal results, know what your restrictions and capabilities can be, and (with version control) allow you to keep up with the rest of the team.
Sure, it’s a bit of pseudo-experience but it lets you sneak in some game dev without having to be part of a development team. Besides, developers want the least risky option, so knowing about the process will give you a slight edge in the matter.
It can be extremely easy to only connect with people in your field of work. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s safe, comfortable, and you know the topic well. Awkwardness avoided.
But, the truth is, you need to take a step out of your comfort zone and network with people that are in the demographics of your potential clients.
Taking with game developers or networking can give you some insight into the process, expectations, and the reality of video game production. It can also help with getting a job later, but that’s not the primary focus here - at least not now.
By connecting with people that aren’t a part of your niche in game development, you can start to have a broader perspective of the dev community by learning about events, getting to know others that you might work with, the workflow and creative process of different specialties, the list goes on.
Share your experience with your field of work and ask questions about theirs, helping people unconditionally can lead to great friendships and opportunities.
After you get to know someone, you can start including topics in your conversations that surround the fact that you’re looking for work. Just don’t be too pushy or desperate. It doesn’t have to be directly them either, they might know someone that is hiring.
Even if you don’t have as much experience as they would like and you see that it’s a “requirement”, you’d be surprised how many of those are actually just “would be nice if”.
The important thing is to focus on getting better at what you do. And it doesn’t just come down to your talent either. A lot can rest on effective communication and confidence.
Don’t be scared to apply to jobs you don’t “quite” make the cut for. As long as you’re not exclusively a composer applying for a sound design job (without any experience designing sounds), you’ll have a chance.
It’s worth repeating, make sure you have some experience in the work they are looking for, not necessarily the type of media it will be used in.
If you follow these practices, you won’t be wondering how to get game dev experience anymore. This can help you land your first job and maybe even get more income if you can leverage your wealth of knowledge and the value it can bring to a team.
I hope you enjoyed this article. If you liked it, share it with someone just starting out! Thanks for reading.