Summer has been long, longer than usual with COVID-19 shutting down businesses, social contact, and any plans I had. In fact I had so much more spare time on my hands I decided to get busy, and make some moves to better my career.
Let me share my top five tips with you.
1. Practice makes perfect
When I started this course, I knew absolutely nothing about game development. I had never programmed or worked on anything especially creative before. The course has shown me how to do all of this, and I have learnt many new skills by working on them, which has taken time, but has been worth it. Now I can make all sorts of games, and program a lot of parts of a game for various purposes, but it has taken me a lot of work given where I started.
2. Don’t be afraid to experiment
Part of learning and practising new skills is not being afraid to try new methods and make attempts. More than likely, most of these attempts will fail, but every time they do, you learn something that does not work, or that might work later with some adjustment. No one can wake up tomorrow and be amazing at a new skill. Some might be naturally talented, but even then they cannot get anywhere without trying new things.
3. Specialisation is key
If you were to go looking for a job in the games industry today, you would very rarely find a job as a generalist (ie, someone who works in every department, doing a little of everything). Most jobs in the games industry require a great deal of specialisation, and so if you want to get hired and advance your career, you are best to become exceptionally good in one particular area, such as AI, user interfaces or in a particular programming language.
4. Portfolio work is what will get you hired
If you were to complete a degree in game development and have specialised in one area, becoming one of the best in the field, you still would need to show your skills to people to find the best jobs. This is where portfolio work comes in.
A portfolio piece is a small, or maybe larger piece of work that represents what you can do. When you apply for most jobs in the industry, they will request to see your portfolio so they can see that you can do what you claim. If you were a programmer, this would be something that represents what you are good at; if you were a VFX artist, this would be some amazing visual effects work. This is why it is important to start early, and get any work you have done ready to be shown off to employers.
5. There is always something you can do
From all of this, there is one big thing to take away: if you want to advance your career, always be doing something proactive. Whether this be learning how AI works, understanding a new game engine, working on a portfolio piece or even branching out and learning something you have never done before, always keep working on making yourself better at what you want to do.
I hope this has been helpful for you, whether you are thinking about joining the course soon, or are already on it. Either way, stay safe, and I wish you all the best.