The Games Game October 2006
The Experience Experience (October 2006)
I'm a guy who has more experience than most - I've been doing my own games since I was 12. I designed my own engine, I wrote my own game designs, I've taken courses in several computer languages. I have lots of experience making class projects of various types (not all games). High school and college gave me a lot of experience at using a lot of tools and even several operating systems.
Yet despite all that (clearly described in my resume and my cover letter), every time I have a phone interview or in-person interview, I'm told that I don't have any experience. Not "not enough experience," mind you -- "no experience at all" is what I'm told I have!
What on earth is going on here? I have experience up the wazoo, but when I walk into a game company it's like I'm in another country, where words mean different things!
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, "experience" means: "Active participation in events or activities, leading to the accumulation of knowledge or skill: ... The knowledge or skill so derived. ... An event or a series of events participated in or lived through. The totality of such events in the past of an individual or group."
And that's what I have, in spades. So what on earth are the game hirers talking about when they say I have "no experience"?
Befuddled in Berkeley
It's very simple, really. To a game hirer, what you have is "education" and "knowledge" and "practice." To a hirer, "experience" is shorthand for "work experience." When a hirer advertises looking for someone with "experience," they mean they want someone who has held a paid full-time job in the game industry for X years.
I assume that your resume touts your knowledge of programs, operating systems, etc. as "experience," when those should instead be listed under "Programs, Environments, Tools, Languages." Re-write your resume without referring to your class subjects and projects as "experience," and that should work better for you.
I assume also that you've been applying for jobs that are above your level. Just apply for entry-level positions and you should be able to get your break.
Good luck!Tom's Bio
Tom Sloper's game biz career began over twenty years ago at Western Technologies, where he designed LCD games and the Vectrex games "Spike" and "Bedlam". There followed stints at Sega Enterprises, Rudell Design, Atari Corporation, and Activision. In 12 years at Activision, Tom produced 36 unique game titles (plus innumerable ports and localizations), designed four games, and won five awards. Tom worked for several months in Activision's Japan operation, in Tokyo. He is perhaps best known for designing, managing and producing Activision's "Shanghai" line. He is currently consulting, writing, speaking, teaching, and developing original games. Find out more at Sloperama.
© 2006 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.