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Breaking Into the Game Industry: Advice for a Successful Career from Those Who Have Done It Paperback – Jun 16 2011

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 23 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An Interesting Read and Potentially Quite Useful Aug. 12 2011
By ONENEO - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Many years ago, I spent my after school hours in the role of the brightly clad plumber, stomping evil mushrooms on route to rescuing a captive princess. Were you to ask me of future job ambitions, I would not have hesitated to answer, "computer programmer." So strong was this desire, that 7th grade me taught himself a pretty rudimentary understanding of BASIC language with which to create custom video games. Now granted, by video games I do mean text-based, decision making numbers and action games in which the letter A could be controlled with the keyboard while being chased around the screen by the letter Z. Suffice to say Nintendo and Sega didn't come calling.

As grade school turned into high school, BASIC went extinct, C++ became the programming language of choice, I discovered cars and girls, and somehow my aspirations of video game designing were dropkicked by the allure of a college major in Business Administration. Those early days spent writing code were as close as I would ever get but the charm of video gaming never wore off. In fact, even now, while immersed in some epic quest on the Playstation 3, I find myself wondering about the industry as a whole and what it takes to become a part of it. Enter Breaking Into the Game Industry by Brenda Brathwaite and Ian Schreiber; for me satiation to long-standing curiosity, for someone serious about being employed in the video game industry, a lifesaver.

The book is of the Course Technology series part of something called the CENGAGE Learning System. Not to worry if that means nothing to you, as I understand it, such classification puts it in the Professional, Technical & Reference category. Indeed, a perfect-bound softcover, it appears as if it would belong on the same shelf as say, "Welcome to the Exciting World of C++" and "Computer Programming for Dummies".

Coming in at close to 300 pages, the initial reaction could be one of overwhelmed until scanning even the introductory pages. The authors of the book take a very conversational approach to the material, written almost as if it were an email to a friend. Better still once the actual book begins, each and every bit of advice provided come in the form of easily digestible question & answer format.

Spanning the 291 pages are 100 questions; identified by the author as the most commonly asked of she and her colleagues and they cover some points I suspect would be incredibly useful for a student of video game design looking to get out and find employment in the field. Among these are what your business card should say, how your portfolio should look, dos and don'ts when talking to established game designers, writing cover letters, even proper attire when showing up to an interview!

Additionally interesting is that the book addresses the reality that while going to a college, university or specialized school to acquire degrees/ certifications is one route to breaking in, it is not the only one. It does frequently offer advice and tips to those individuals gifted with artistic ability, naturally bilingual (where the second happens to be assembly language) and those oddities who always wondered what it takes to break into the video game industry.

Another point worth mentioning is that while she does not elaborate on it, the author (Brenda Brathwaite) claims to have gotten her start in the industry at merely 15-years-old so clearly PhDs are not a requisite. The subtitle of this book is "Advice for a Successful Career from Those Who Have Done It" and while I figured we would have to take the authors' word for that, the fact is Brenda herself comes packing a resume that had me wanting to offer her a job- and I don't even work in the game industry! Her credits include working for Atari and Electronics Arts and having played a hand in the development of countless popular social-networking classics like Garden Life, Ravenwood Fair, Critter Island, and SuperPoke Pets!

Her coauthor Ian Schreiber has a history of teaching game design, has worked on many projects (including developing software used for corporate training) and is known for having co-founded Global Game Jam (GGJ); the world's largest game creation event.

As highly decorated as this pair come, surprisingly they serve mainly as the structure and research behind the book; chiming in with their own answers periodically, though a majority of the questions are fielded by their colleagues in the industry. This technique goes a long way in diversifying the information presented and prevents the authors from coming off as know-it-allish.

In all, I have to say that reading through the book was quite an interesting experience. I won't try to pretend that all of the information here was pertinent to someone in my position (just mild curiosity as to how it all works), it will likely prove quite beneficial to those individuals seriously putting together a plan of attack for getting involved. I did come away with some newfound tidbits such as what separates a Triple-A game (nothing to do with roadside assistance as you may have suspected) from a Casual Game from a Serious Game for example. I can also state with certainty that the word BASIC is never once mentioned throughout- go figure.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Tremendously approachable and informative. Fantastic for all levels of experience Aug. 9 2011
By Bryan Cash - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a rare treat. The authors did a great job of condensing and including a wealth of information in an incredibly readable format. It's very easy to find a relevant section and the language of the text is conversational and approachable. The game industry can be a confusing and intimidating space, and the book neither pulls its punches nor trys to present itself as the "One True Way." The authors make very clear that the answers provided are the opinions and perspectives of actual game developers, ensuring teh book is filled with heart-felt, honest, and (above all) practical advice.

The book's basic format is 100 sections, each being devoted to a commonly asked question about the game industry. These questions span a tremendous period of experience, with answers being provided by the two authors and other individuals in the game industry.

In just a brief scan of the book:
For those about to apply to undergrad: how to pick a school, what majors to pick, how important is a GPA.
For those starting to test the waters: business card and networking etiquette, Facebook and twitter, and the importance of portfolios.
For people actively seeking: internships, interviews, and resumes.
For people who've just been hired: salary negotiations, entering in the middle of a project timeline, AAA studios, small studios, crunch time, disagreements in teams.
Not only that, but the book spends an admirable amount of time covering the different disciplines (tech, art, design, audio, etc) and different people (minorities, disabled, women, lgbt, etc)

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you're thinking about, working towards, or actively trying to get into the game industry, this book is an incredible asset.

And if you're already in the industry and are used to fielding these questions regularly, it's a great resource to add to your bookshelf.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Highly Informative & A Fun Read Aug. 24 2011
By Theseus - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Just how does one move from being a gamer to someone who works in the gaming industry? This book is loaded with important information, presented in a readable (but not an insultingly elementary way.)

Here's the thing -- if you ask a hundred people how they managed to get excellent jobs in the industry, you aren't going to hear one story, or even twelve stories, you're going to hear something like 50 to 60 different stories. And that's one of the things this book does well -- it doesn't break things down into a simplified step-by-step, it affords you the opportunity to learn from a multiplicity of experiences.

I like books that are structured in a Q and A fashion because I can get through the information more quickly with the Q and A structure. So this was a good match for me.

And there's about $100,000 of practical information to be found in this book. Things like...
- how do I negotiate an actual job offer?
- how do I put together a portfolio?
- how much might I make?
- is it true that all game designers wear filthy ironic t-shirts with stains on them?
- what sort of school should I attend?
- does it help if I am a geek when it comes to the history of games?
- am I the sort of personality that will fit into the professional gaming world?
- should I focus on audio or on art or on design? do I have to specialize now?
- what sort of things happen when you're on a team with a big deadline and people aren't getting along?
- what should my business card look like?
- I've had this semi-crazy idea for a game that I've been fiddling around with for two years, what do I do with it?
- how can I use Twitter and Facebook to promote my career?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This Book Is Amazing Aug. 18 2011
By M. Brown - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
My son really wants to get into the game industry and I think it's a great idea. I read the book prior to giving it to him to read so we could easily discuss it. I think this book offers great information, broken down in a way that is easily understood by both the novice and the gamin expert. If you are someone or know someone who is interested in getting into the gaming industry this is the book you need.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great Insider Advice Aug. 15 2011
By Jennifer AlLee - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
What's the best thing about this book? It's written by people who know what they're talking about. It's full of tips from the pros written in an engaging, conversational style. You can find advice on everything from how to choose a school, to networking, to building your portfolio, to how to dress for an interview, to salary negotiations, as well as tons of questions you probably didn't know to ask. I highly recommend this book for anyone considering a career in the gaming industry.