Game thinking from Adam Clare

Tag: advice

How to Level Up at Conferences

Stephen Downes has a great post on how to get the most out of a conference and it’s worth a read if you’re going to your first conference or your 1001st. It’s a wonderfully long and worthwhile read!

It’s a great breakdown of what to do before, during, and after the event. Some of it’s obvious (pick applicable conferences) and some of it is quite insightful. I found quite a lot of advice in his post that were new to me and I’m sure any conference veteran would enjoy reading this if even to get a different perspective on some issues. I still say, that if you can, don’t check baggage on a flight and try to take it all on with you.

One thing that every presenter should do – and this can’t be stressed enough – is to bring your presentation (in multiple formats for cross-platform love) on a flash drive; better yet do that AND put a copy online.

Here’s a snippet from one section of Downes’ advice:

Preparing for the Conference

A conference comes and goes in an instant. Even a long conference might only be four days long – most are only one or two days. You won’t have time to find your feet, even if you’re arriving early.

Research the conference. Who will be there? What will they be talking about? As much as possible, scan the program, look for people (especially keynotes) talking about things that are interesting to you, and look them up on Google. Do this before the conference! Sometimes it’s nice to be surprised by someone you weren’t expecting, but the experience is so much more rewarding if you know where they’re coming from.

You also want to be looking at the program to see which sessions you want to attend. You don’t have to decide right away (but if you do, create your own schedule and put it on your iPad or computer – it will be really hard to find this information at the conference itself, because they almost never post big signs with the conference program on it (they just assume everyone has their program).

Going to a conference? Then read how to get the most out of a conference now!

Getting into the Game Industry

Getting into any industry requires a skill-set applicable to the job you want at the very least. When it comes to creative industries things get complicated though, it’s not just get the skill get the job; sometimes you may not have a skill but land the job for other reasons. This makes giving advice (and getting it) hard to do in the games industry.

One thing that keeps getting mentioned by people I talk to who work in the world of gaming have done so by making games. It sounds obvious but it cannot be overstated how important actually making a game is. Go make a board game, a quick and dirty flash game, make a live-action game.

A finished (or almost finished) game shows that can you can convince of an idea and make it happen, and hopefully make it fun.

Now go make a game!

You probably aren’t making a game right now. Lucky for you since Brenda Brathwaite and Ian Schreiber have gotten into the games industry and they have shared their advice in book form, here’s an excerpt:

Question: Lots of stuff I learn in school seems like it has nothing to do with actually making games for a living. What classes did you take that were the most useful on the job?

Ian: In other words, you want to know what you should pay attention to, and which classes you can safely ignore or sleep through. If you are just taking classes to get a piece of paper, or if you are the kind of person who tries to do just the bare minimum to get by, you will probably not enjoy working in the game industry. It’s an industry where you are expected to be passionate and go above and beyond the minimum on a regular basis, so this would be a good time to consider a career change.
But that’s not what you want to hear. You want to know, with so many subjects competing for your attention, where do you put the effort so that your time is used the most effectively?
First, whatever your major is, concentrate on the core classes that form the major requirements (art classes for artists, computer science classes for programmers, and so on). This is your primary competency, so you want to be competent. That much is obvious.
Second, pay attention to the classes that are relevant to other fields of game development. If you’re a programmer, take art and design and audio and production classes if you can find them, for example. This gives you an appreciation for the work that your teammates do, lets you speak and be understood even across departmental lines, and lets you do your own job in a way that makes things easier and more efficient for the rest of your team.
Third, pay attention to your electives that seem like they have nothing to do with game development. Sometimes they are shockingly relevant if you just look at it the right way; a class in World History might seem useless until you find yourself working on a historically-based game, for example, at which point that history class suddenly becomes the thing that gets you hired. The more random little tidbits there are about you, the better your chances of accidentally falling into the perfect position.

Read the rest at Game Career Guide.

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