Advice on Getting Advice & Mentorship (in the Game Industry)

TL;DR: If you’re about to DM or email a game development professional for advice, you can skip to the “what to ask” section. But I suggest reading the whole article too 😉

I was writing a shorter block of tips for seeking mentorship in a large post about breaking into the game industry when I realized I couldn’t condense this advice into bullet points while addressing all of the important nuances.

As a professional game developer who’s mentored through programs like the Glitch Power Leveling program at GDC in 2019 and the online bootcamp Code Coven; mentored and spoken at classes and events at universities including UCI and UCLA; and who’s been a mentee myself, I’d love to share some detailed advice about mentorship in the game industry. I can’t possibly cover every potential mentorship situation in one article, so this one is focused on guiding people new to the industry on how to approach industry professionals (online and in person) for 1-1 conversations for advice about the game industry and turning those relationships into longer-term, more formal mentorship relationships. I always recommend that you think critically about the advice I present, consider what does and doesn’t work for you, and don’t believe everything you read on the internet. 😉

I hope this article both sets you up with realistic expectations for what you can get out of mentorship and gives you practical advice to follow to seek it and benefit from it.

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Game Dev Portfolio Guide

Other than making games and networking, creating a quality portfolio to display your work is one of the most important steps of applying for jobs in the game industry. Luckily, it’s also pretty simple compared to the first two steps! XD

This guide should be helpful for a variety of asset creation jobs- mainly, coding, art, and sound design– as that’s my biggest area of experience and therefore what I can give the most accurate advice on.

Remember that your resume and portfolio are living documents; update them with new work you’ve done and remove old work as you advance in your career.

Good luck!

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Getting Started Learning Tech Art & Unity Shader Writing

(important disclaimer: this work represents me only & not the company I work for.)

I participated in the 2019 Global Game Jam at the University of California – Irvine, and I met a ton of students who were super interested in learning about what tech art is and how to get started learning tech art related skills.

UCI Global Game Jam participants, this one’s for you. This article will be geared pretty strongly towards college students who are interested in working in the game industry and already studying a relevant major, like computer science or art. If you’re looking for more general game industry career advice, try this article.

I hope that you and anybody else reading this feel a little less intimidated by tech art and graphics programming and find one of these resources useful or inspiring 😀

You can always reach me on Twitter at @so_good_lin – my DMs are open 🙂

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How to Be Successful at a Game Jam

The content of this article is guaranteed quality ™: I’ve participated in 4 game jams (all with a 48-hour time span), judged two, and ran one myself! I’ve also been working in the game industry for several years now, and I’m currently an Associate Tech Artist at Blizzard. You can see a couple of the games I’ve created during jams here.

I’m writing this the night before the 2019 Global Game jam, so I’m gonna cut to the chase.

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How to Start a Career in Games

SO many articles I’ve encountered about how to get a job making video games are misleading. They spend too much time over-emphasizing, and sometimes exaggerating, how competitive the game industry is, and yet simultaneously propose a perfect formula for “breaking in”.

Even the phrase “breaking in” is a misnomer- although it can be difficult to get a paid job making games, if you’re making games at all, then you’re contributing to the game industry, and you are a game developer already. You’ve already taken the most important step to making games as a career: making a game. Let’s not gatekeep the terminology.

I can’t tell you exactly how to run your game development journey. Maybe you want to secure a AAA job, maybe you want to do your own indie thing, or maybe you need help taking the first step to make a game. I’m not going to be condescending and tell you what you want out of your game journey or career, or try to look cool by exaggerating how competitive this field is to get a job in.

Instead, I’m going to do my best to present a list of adaptable ideas for improving and finding paid work as a game developer. Because hey- once you’ve made your first game, you already are one. ❤️

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