If you’re looking for a job in the video game industry, it’s crucial to realize that no two video game companies are alike – that should be obvious. Even studios owned by the same parent company (Tiburon and EA Canada within EA, for example) can have dramatically different cultures, management styles, quality of life and more. If you’re in one of those best-case scenarios where you can be a little picky with the offer you accept, there are several things that you should keep in mind before selecting a company to work for. This list is going to be a WIP – I was going to try and get to a nice even number, but I’ll just add more as they are suggested or I think of them.
- Quality of life – this one might be one of the most talked about issues in the gaming industry. Since the EA Spouse incident of 2004, video game companies have started taking quality of life/crunch issues very seriously. At least, they say the do. It’s important to find out how much of that is lip service and how much is sincere. You won’t find a company that says, “we run our employees through the grinder, and we’re not planning on changing.” They all say it’s an important issue (and I believe most of them are sincere), but it would be wise to talk to current and former employees to see how good a job they do at living up to the talk.
- Company size – Working at a studio with 20 people is an entirely different experience than working at one with 500. There can be perks at both – do you enjoy more responsibility and less layers of management, or working on blockbuster titles with 20 million dollar budgets? This is a personal preference issue, so it’s important to ask how large they currently are and how large they might grow.
- Location – if you’re in a city with only one gaming company, are you prepared to move if it doesn’t work out for some reason? I’ve written a bit about knowing where companies are located here and here.
- Prestige – Do you care what you’re working on? If you absolutely want to work on a blockbuster title like GTA or Resident Evil, this is going to limit your options. Some people want just want to work in the industry, and are happy working on smaller scale games, kids titles, etc. if their other critera are met. Again, personal preference.
- Money – How well does the company pay? If they pay more, is the cost of living higher in that area? Is there a state income tax? Do they offer relocation expenses/signing bonus? This could be the topic of an entire list… 😉
- Stability of the company – how safe would your job be if the company has a “miss?” Can they afford to keep the doors open if a game doesn’t do well?