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New Book Opens Doors For Game Job Seekers

Game On


Published October 25, 2006 at 4:00 p.m.

Kids used to run away to join the circus. These days, it's video games.

Sure, mom and dad want you to become a banker, a broker or a comptroller at Enron. But you want freedom and adventure. Most of all, you want to do something that's fun.

With fewer career openings these days as the human cannonball or even on the elephant-scooper crew, video games have grown to lure a generation that figures making digital entertainment must be as much fun as sitting around just playing games.

Paid to Play: An Insider's Guide to Video Game Careers hits the bookstores with a confident and comical guide to making money in, around and near the video-game industry. The book assembles more than 100 interviews in a menu of gaming-career counseling. From game designer, producer and programmer to visual artist, audio engineer and PR flack, this book dishes on the ups and downs of dozens of job tracks and provides practical advice for landing a gig.

Want to break into the business and have no real skills other than a serious obsession with video games? No problem. Paid to Play suggests that the quality-assurance department might have a spot for you. For around $28,000 a year, you can play games - or at least the few games your company needs tested - 50-plus hours a week. You'll get treated like a peon and slowly have your love of games sucked out of you.

Not convinced? The book goes on to relate a former tester's tale of nights spent sleeping in a hammock that the company installed for him and a wardrobe picked out by the company receptionist so he wouldn't have to leave work to change clothes.

But, hey, what do you care? You're in the game industry!

Chapter after chapter of job-detailing provide a fascinating look at the real work behind the digital glitz, while the smart-alecky style of reporting helps keep the book lively even when scanning through such dull vocational paths as technical director, publisher and, ahem, journalist.

One of the book's key strengths lies in its exhaustive coverage of possible game careers. Want to set up your own independent game company? Covered. Want to make it as a professional gamer? Covered. Think you have the good teeth and hair you need to work in TV? Covered. The search for possible ways to squeeze cash out of anything game-related ranges so far that it even comes back with the lowly retail job in its far-reaching net. You, too, can work in the game business by staffing a counter at the mall.

At only a couple hundred pages, the book does not provide a comprehensive job-seeker's guide. Sections on interview skills and vocational-interest inventories attempt to summarize the What Color Is Your Parachute? method in shorthand simplicity. But the advice offered provides as good as any you can get for less than $20.

Who's It For: If you want to work in the game business and don't have an uncle in the HR department at Electronic Arts, then this book is well-worth the $20. This wry and readable survey of game employment provides a fascinating look into the lives of the people who work in and around games for a living.

If You Like This, Try That: Ernest Adams' Break Into the Game Industry: How to Get a Job Making Video Games has been on the shelves for a few years. But Adams still provides the kind of no-nonsense advice you'd expect from an industry pro.

Best Part: A section on women in the game industry recognizes that females want to play, too, and attempts to give some basic advice for breaking into this boy's club.

So You Want to Be a Video-Game Star: From the same people who brought you the Game Developers Conference and Game Developer Magazine comes A new site dedicated to news, features and resources for the game-industry job hunter, this free resource looks to become the hub for game-industry jobs.