Brief synopsis of Start Your Video Game Career
Start Your Video Game Career: Proven Advice on Jobs, Education, Interviews, and More for Starting and Succeeding in the Video Game Industry is a book focused on searching for jobs in the game development industry. It focuses on what hiring managers want to see on your resume and, broadly, how the reader can get the experience being asked for. It is not a blow-by-blow instruction manual for every skill a game programmer or audio engineer needs to learn. Instead, it covers the most frequently asked questions someone might have when considering a career in game development, how to apply for jobs, advice for interviews, etc. This is a book most suitable for someone inexperienced at applying and interviewing for jobs with limited knowledge of what the game industry is like. If you’re looking for a specific list of technologies to master, look elsewhere. This is a book for someone that isn’t aware of all the possible jobs that are available in the game development industry, what they pay, and what the work is like.
This book is 113 pages in length; there are only a few extra pages at the back of the book for the credits and the author’s bio. This is a lean book with no bloat to bump the page count.
Print and binding quality
Start Your Video Game Career appears to be an Amazon print-on-demand book. The only thing I don’t like about this book is the lack of title and author on the spine; you can’t tell what book this is when it’s sitting on your shelf. Aside from this minor gripe the cover is crisp and glossy, and the print is large and generously spaced for easy reading.
The target audience for this book is anyone looking to enter the video game industry as an employee. Specifically, individuals with limited knowledge of the game development industry and those just starting out in a professional-level career. The author covers game testing, art, design, sound/music, and programming. A handful of other super niche areas are also covered briefly along the way. This is not for solo or indie game developers hoping to create their own studio or publish their own games on platforms like Steam and the Epic Game Store.
Relevance to game development
The relevance of this book to game development is 100% if your goal is to work for someone else as an employee. This is probably the majority of people who will actually get paid to develop games. If you’re a solo or indie developer hoping to create your own studio this won’t have much to offer, however.
How Start Your Video Game Career should be read
The book itself suggests the reader can skip around to applicable sections, but because of the short length I would recommend everyone just read the entire thing. When the time comes to apply the content to your job-seeking endeavor you can just go back and reference the respective section you need help with.
Start Your Video Game Career offers solid advice for applying to companies and landing a job as an employee. Much of the content could be applied to a career in any field, however. The video game applicability comes down to a few key areas covered: what each role in game development does, how each role gets experience employers care about, what the alternative education paths are, and how to transition from other careers into game development. I like how the author never spends too much time talking about any single game development role/job type because they don’t all apply to me as a reader. The FAQ format was great; the content is presented as answers to commonly asked questions. Finally, this book is short, but it’s lean and no-nonsense. The author did not add a bunch of fluff to bump up the page count and charge more money. This is a quick read, but you’re going to get exactly what you need and nothing more. I really appreciate this format.
What I wish was different
The author focused on the primary and most common traditional game development roles. That is, working as an employee for a game company as a programmer, artist, tester, etc. However, there are many other fields not covered. Things that come to mind include working for a game engine like Unity 3D and Unreal Engine. These huge companies offer tons of employment opportunities closely related to game development. Furthermore, I mentioned previously this book does not cover solo game development and indie game studios. For entrepreneurial readers like myself I would have appreciated some advice or general direction on this topic. The author does spend a little time talking about freelance positions, but this is not the same thing. Freelance is really working in a traditional role but as a 1099 contractor. It’s not the same as starting your own company or publishing your own games.
I did not notice any typos and the writing is very high quality. I would give this book high marks in that regard. It’s a short book, but the author did a great job putting this valuable content together. I appreciated the larger-than-average font size used and white space.
Code quality in Start Your Video Game Career
This is not a programming book, so this section is N/A.
The tone is professional, objective and upbeat. The author does not cast any judgement or suggest any one role in game development is better than any other. By the end of the book the reader gets a sense that the author is a genuinely nice guy just looking to help connect people with their dream job. He doesn’t pull any punches and explains the reality of the different game development career roles; crunch time, competitiveness, salary, etc. Nothing is sugar-coated.
At the time of writing this book has 45 global ratings on Amazon and is sitting at a respectable score of 4.3 out of 5 stars. The main criticisms this book is receiving are all centered around being too general, too vague, etc. It is true this book is quite broad in its scope, but the reviews are not deserved because the description clearly states what the content is and what the reader should expect. If you’re going to buy a book without even reading the description, that's your own fault. The description clearly states this is a book designed to help people launch a career in game development; it also says the focus is on what hiring managers want to see, and that the book covers a litany of different career paths.
Should you buy Start Your Video Game Career?
This is a book I recommend for someone in high school, college, or later in life that has limited knowledge of what the game industry is like and/or how to apply for a professional level job. If you’re operating a high level in a professional industry or generally have a lot of knowledge regarding what careers are available in game development the value proposition is limited. However, the advice found inside is extremely valuable for greener folks just starting out.