If yes, I was wondering if you had some insight into how one can get started in the industry?
I'm finishing a masters degree in engineering really soon, but would rather get a job in a field I've become far more passionate for (aka, game design).
I've been developing mod content for over 8 years, including www.zhrpg.net. I've designed board games, written a full-length novel, created RPG's. I love to balance game content. I would gladly take any opportunity to prove myself in the industry, even if I have to start in Quality Assurance. That's me sacrificing my 80k+ starting salary as an engineer, I am That serious about this.
If you have suggestions, or better yet a chance for a job, please let me know :)
Meeting this people, either have luck and met them by chance ... or go to conferences (GDC ie.), or other conventions and talk to them ... they are just human too and as long as you don't bully them why should they refuse :o (other than they currently being interviewed or smth like that)
The best way to meet these people is to go to game conventions. Behind the stands, you can meet people who are here to interview people interested in their company. It's better to ask for an interview BEFORE actually going there though... and if you have a nice project you can show them, you should (be careful though, some companies -even large ones- steal people's work... make sure your project is registered somewhere to value your copyrights if needed). Being passionate and dedicated is not that rare, actually everyone in this industry is. You must show that you have more than just a "player-side" perspective of the gaming industry, you must know its rules and facts, how things work in general in such companies, and why.
Aim for a specific company, do NOT try to wander here and there and give your resume pointlessly. They'll notice and you won't get any chance, especially since they spend the whole days interviewing people who are probably more fitting to the job (because they have experience, while you don't). Go there with a real project in mind, and show them you did your master degree in that purpose. Do not hesitate to ask people for their business card, even if they are not related directly to a game company. The more people you will know, the easier it will be to get your project known, and you might even find people interested enough to contact you. So don't forget to have your own business cards ready.
Actually, the ultimate way to have a network in the video game industry is to work with these guys. When I was a student in Game Design, our teachers were real professionals (seniors, lead, and such), which helped a lot to create a network and be known. Since you can't do it that way, I'd really suggest to go for game conventions and get yourself known there. It's gutsy, but it's probably the best way for you to get known. Don't go there empty handed, you MUST know where you are going prior to meeting them.
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Make a meaningful portfolio (online portfolios are popular these days)
Apply for a specific position, not "I would be open to any position blabla"
Make sure you meet their requirements and at least a couple of extras they mention in their job ad. Don't apply for a job you don't meet the requirements for
(e.g. lead level designer requiring 5+ years industry experience & several shipped AAA titles as (lead) designer).
If you don't hear from them after 4-5 weeks reapply for a different position. Get on their nerves, but don't get on their nerves ;)
I would suggest applying for an internship that lasts around 6-12 months (shorter and you will not get enough experience; longer and you might be in danger of being taken advantage of), but preferrably as a designer, not a tester (although starting with a full-time tester job isn't that bad). An internship of this length is worth more than any game university degree there is.