how to write a resume and portfolio to get a job in a game studio

New people are constantly coming into the gaming industry who dream of doing game design. But often they do not have an understanding of exactly how the process of employment in a gaming company goes – they do not know how important practical experience is, whether a specialized education is needed, what should be indicated in a resume and whether it is worth building a portfolio.

In this text, MY.GAMES employees talked about what they look for when viewing a resume, and also gave some tips on how to make a good impression on a potential employer. Shared their experience: Lead Game Designer of Allods Team Valery Prokofiev, Head of Game Design at Pixonic Mikhail Vovk, Lead Game Designer of Allods Team Konstantin Goryachev, MY.GAMES recruiter Svetlana Vorobieva.

War Robots by Pixonic
War Robots by Pixonic

What to include in a resume

A game designer resume is a short story about what a person can do and why he thinks he can work as a game designer. It is important to include in your resume:

  • where did you work, in what positions, for how long;

  • what he did in each place. It is desirable to mention games, features and specific results;

  • what position are you applying for;

  • contacts: phone, instant messengers, mail;

  • specialization and key skills;

  • salary expectations;

  • level of knowledge of English;

  • place of residence and readiness for relocation;

  • completed training programs, courses;

  • age;

  • education;

  • type of employment, work schedule, office/remote work.

It is also important to describe your own gaming experience. The more experience, the better. It is highly desirable that this experience coincides with the games that the studio makes. If a studio is developing an MMORPG, experience in match-3 will not be very relevant, but experience in WoW is quite.

If you have a technical or mathematical education, then this can be an additional plus. But specialized education is far from a decisive factor: people come to game design with both medical and journalistic education.

Additionally, your resume can include:

  • special achievements in previous jobs;

  • possession of specific tools (editors, game engines);

  • knowledge of programming languages;

  • participation in events related to games (game jams, conferences, performances);

  • additional hobbies that may be useful at work: for example, if you get a job in a studio that makes racing, it is useful to indicate that you love and know how to drive a car).

You also need to write a cover letter, from which it should be clear why you responded to this particular vacancy.

All this is necessary so that the employer can get the most complete picture of the candidate and what can be discussed with him at the interview.

What to add to your portfolio

A portfolio is always a visual representation of your skill. This is your additional trump card, which is not expected of you, but if you show it, it will greatly increase the chances of success. However, you should not get hung up on the portfolio – its absence is not critical. But this is more relevant for novice game designers – at high-level positions, it is required in order to make sure that the candidate is professionally suitable.

If you have such examples of work on hand that can clearly show your competence, you should add them to your portfolio. It can be:

  • projects on which he worked – both commercial and personal;

  • a brief summary of each project (genre, platform, engine, description), gameplay video and screenshots of the gameplay or location;

  • information about how long you worked on projects and what you personally did;

  • be sure to describe what you were guided by when performing these works: it is important to attach a level pass diagram, a game or resource cycle diagram, any comments or explanations;

  • you can attach an analysis of the game mechanics of the project developed by the studio-employer. This can be a cool portfolio item if the analysis is done in sufficient detail and with suggestions for improvement;

  • It is also desirable to add a page with information about yourself. Indicate contacts there, a link to a resume and your game profiles.

It is desirable to make a portfolio in accordance with the specialty. For example, a system game designer should attach examples of documents of their systems, a level designer – blockouts, a balance designer – tables with calculations, a combat designer – prototypes of combat systems or a link to projects where you can see the results of work.

At the same time, the complexity scales with the job grade: for juniors and interns, a decomposition of mechanics from other games is enough.

Is it worth submitting your resume to the studio if you have no experience

Yes, it’s worth it. However, you need to understand that the lack of practical experience is primarily a risk for the studio. Employees will have to take the time to teach you and hope that you will succeed in the end. Accordingly, you are unlikely to be offered a position higher than the initial one, and most likely at the interview they will look at how quickly you are able to learn and master new tasks.

Nowadays, game studios often need extra hands to complete small tasks. This is a great entry point, so you should not miss the opportunity. At the same time, you should never give up when you refuse. It is necessary to take in quantity, sending out resumes in batches and carefully listening to feedback in case of refusal – it may indicate what to upgrade or correct.

How to write a resume and portfolio

The most important thing is that a potential employer can open a resume and portfolio without any problems. For example, a CV can be filled out on HeadHunter or LinkedIn, and it can also be formatted as a PDF. Of course, you can create a resume in the form of a business card presentation, but only do this if you are completely confident in your graphic design skills – poor design will only turn off a potential employer.

Prototypes and portfolios are best placed on your own website for easy viewing. You can use a website builder for this.

Common Mistakes

In summary:

  • excess volume. Keep in mind that a recruiter can look through hundreds of resumes and profiles a day, so there is simply no time to read long cover letters. A couple of pages are more than enough;

  • lack of details about previous work. For example, it is not enough just to write a position – you need to add a specific description of duties;

  • it is impossible to understand from the cover letter why the candidate applied for the vacancy, what relevant skills he has, what interests him in the studio;

  • excessive concentration on insignificant and insignificant achievements. To avoid this, ask yourself the question: “Why am I talking about this in such detail?”;

  • overstating one’s own skills – as a result, it only harms the applicant.

In portfolio:

  • portfolio examples do not sufficiently demonstrate the candidate’s skills;

  • excessive emphasis on art and history in screenshots and videos – if you get a job as a game designer, then this will be inappropriate;

  • poor quality of screenshots and videos.

To make your resume appeal to potential employers, you need to consider several important factors:

  • information should be well structured;

  • the description should be short and concise;

  • examples of work should really demonstrate your skills;

  • Resume and portfolio must match the position.

Search HeadHunter and LinkedIn for examples of good and bad resumes. In addition, show the finished result to others – it is desirable that they be specialists from the industry: recruiters and game designer leads.

Nevertheless, one must understand that there are no magic recipes for successful resumes. If you want to increase your chances of getting hired, make sure that after reading your resume, the employer gets the impression that you are a great fit for the role of game designer.

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