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So You Want To Make Video Games?

I get occasional questions about the game industry, and so I have set aside this page to answer them.

For the record, my official title is Game Designer and I work for Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment. My job duties basically involve level implementation and game play design. There is also lot and lots of documentation. I have attended three different academic programs for game design, and finally graduated from The Guildhall@SMU.

Here is a list of what I have worked on so far:
Brothers in Arms (Contractor – I implemented the lipsync for the French version – hooray me!)
Ghost Recon for the PSP – Level implementation
America’s Army:True Soldiers – Research and documentation
Flame Sim – Design and level implementation
I am currently working on the Stargate MMO.

So that people are aware, I am not claiming to to be the supreme expert on all things getting into the game industry. But I’m willing to share whatever information that I have.

And now, here are the questions.

Justin writes:

“Mr. Schwarz, my name is Justin and I am a student at East Carolina University who is about to graduate this summer from the Animation/ Interactive Design program. It is my goal to work for a game design company, and like you I am a veteran who also did some time at Bragg. My question is in setting up a resume, all the example I can find of game designers resume are of seasoned professionals and not students fresh out of school. If you have no work experience relating to game design then what should I put. I have six years active duty experience but how or should I list that when applying to a gaming company. I would love to work for a company that creates allot of military games like Redstorm. What is relevant when it comes to military job experience? Should I just list that I was in this company at this time and I was an Infantry squad leader or would it be helpful to list a job description and schools I have attended. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time,

PS. Is having a military background an asset when applying to a company like Redstorm?”

First of all there here is are some links to some student portfolios. This school is pretty good at getting their graduates employed, and they’re the folks that taught me how set up my work. So you could do worse than look there. From what I have seen so far examples of your work seem to be the biggest factor other than previous experience in getting an employer interested in you.

It is probably worth listing any schools you went to, and any leadership positions that you held, but don’t go overboard with it. Remember, you are trying to get hired to make video games, not lead an infantry squad.

As to your PS, my first actual telephone interview was with Red Storm shortly after I graduated. They liked the fact that I had been in the Army, but it didn’t appear to be especially significant to them. They were more concerned with the contract work I had done on Brothers in Arms, and my ability with scripting. I failed to impress them significantly and so I wound up getting hired by another company, and was immediately set to work making a sub-contracted Red Storm game. Are there any Red Storm employed readers who have any information on this?

Koji writes:

Awesome list, I just left the army last December *nods* I’m considering getting into video game development. O.o but I’m still new to it all. To tell the truth i haven’t gone to school just yet >.< i was going to go to the San Fransisco Art Institute for Game Development, but i had some problems with my G.I. bill in the beginning. O.o i was just wondering, at the point your at right now, is the climb for game development worth it? I can understand how making something that people all over the world played and bought would be great, but how is the work like, I’ve done some small 3d meshes and that took very long to do. I don’t think it will turn me away from this, i just wanted a better understanding of the work i want to get into.

Well I can’t answer whether or not it will be worth it to you.  It was worth it to me, if that helps.  I guess the thing is to figure out what part of making games you will specialize in, and then trying to figure out if that’s fun for you.  I started looking at it from the art end, and quickly determined that I didn’t want to do that.  But I did like design work, and seemed to have a talent for it. You mentioned that you tried to make 3d meshes.  Did you enjoy it?  If you did, then this will probably be worthwhile for you.  If you didn’t like it, try playing with a game editor and see if you like that better.  Maybe try to take some classes in programming, to see if that does anything for you.  Also, as long as you are looking at schools in San Francisco, did you look at the Art Academy College?  It’s more expensive, but I thought that they had a better art program than the Art Institute did.