First, let me say that the feedback from my last blog was welcome and stimulating. Ad to that the honor of being chosen by Gamasutra to be the featured blog of the week! I had hoped to keep up my once a week "resolution", but as you can see, I haven't quite done so. But now the show must go on!
Last week I discussed some issues that make getting a job in the game industry slightly different than some other fields. This week I'll discuss one of the practical side effects of this difference: location. Although jobs in the game industry are spread out all over the world, they tend to cluster in certain areas. If you live in one of those clusters, then it will be much easier for you to find a job. If you don't, then get ready to move!
When it comes to location, the game industry is much like other entertainment industries. For the music industry, the main hub is Nashville. For dance and stage acting it's New York. For movies, Hollywood. So where are the major hubs of activity for the game industry?
Although there is no single location that companies flock to for the game industry, there are several cities that have become prominent hubs:
- Los Angeles, CA - not surprising since its home to the entertainment industry in general
- San Francisco, CA - especially prominent for the games journalism and marketing sectors
- Seattle, WA - must have something to do with a small company started by Bill Gates
- Austin, TX - mostly known for a wealth of smaller independent studios
While there are locations scattered across the U.S. (and the world) where you can find a job in the game industry, you increase your likelihood of getting a job if you live in one of these key hubs. The need to be willing to relocated was particularly relevant to my situation.
At the time that I began considering a move into the game industry, I was living in Grand Junction, CO. This is a moderate sized city close to the border of Utah. The closest large cities were Salt Lake City, UT to the west and Denver, CO to the east, each about 250 miles away. Suffice to say that Grand Junction is too small to have any game-related companies, so I knew I was going to have to move. If I wanted to stay relatively close to "home", then both Salt Lake City and Denver were prospects.
Unfortunately, there are only a handful of game companies in both Salt Lake City and Denver. In order to find a job in the game industry, I had to expand my horizons. So I extended my search to include the western half of the United States. I landed my first job in Dallas, TX. This meant moving 1000 miles away from my family in Grand Junction, but it was a move I was willing to take.
After the studio in Dallas laid off many of its employees, I was faced with an even more difficult decision. With the economic and job situation at the time, I was forced to consider any job in any location in the United States. Even that wasn't enough, and eventually I took a job in Canada!
The moral of this story: to get your first job in the game industry you'll probably have to move. To get your second job in the game industry, you'll probably have to move.
Unfortunately, the game industry is also pretty notorious for high rates of turnover. That means that you probably won't only move once during your game career. You may move every time you get another job. This is where living in a hub that has many game companies becomes a real advantage. The more game companies that are in the area, the less likely that you'll have to pack your bags every time something changes.
A particularly useful resource in this regard is David Perry's Game Industry Map located at http://www.gameindustrymap.com. This site allows you to search the world for game related companies. If you search for a particular location, it will show you a map identifying all of the game related companies in that area. It's like the Google Maps of the game industry!
That's it for this week. Stay tuned next week when I delve in to the big question of how to best prepare yourself for a job in the game industry.