But "moving on" hasn't been easy, reports Souto,
who has been on a few interviews via conventional job advertisements, none of them yet successful. He's also signed up
with several recruitment agencies which has resulted in a few leads.
"I'm still looking," he says, "but it's far
harder than I expected. While there seem to be quite a few jobs out there,
there are also quite a few people hunting, which means that employers are now
able to find the perfect candidate who ticks all the boxes."
"In the past, a
candidate could fulfill 90% of the role and it would be understood that the
remaining 10% could be worked on. However, that '100% candidate' is potentially
out there in the large job-seeking pool. So the difference between getting that
job and missing out could be a very minor feature or attribute."
Souto had interviewed for one particular spot, and was one of
the last two finalists. But he says the deciding factor wasn't his skill as a
game developer, but his perceived lack of interest in a particular sport. "It
was enough to sway the job in the other direction," he says. In another
interview, he was informed that he had worked too long at Eidos.
"It's unbelievable!" he says. "I also have
friends who didn't get jobs because they were told they had moved around too
much. I must say that it's rather disheartening. All I can say is that if you're
reading this and looking for a job, keep the faith and I sincerely hope that
you find one soon. Good luck!"
But Marc Mencher, president of Fort Lauderdale,
Florida-based GameRecruiter, says luck
has nothing to do with it. Job seekers just need to buckle down and apply for
the myriad of job openings that exist, he says.
"These layoffs are not the result of the economic
downturn that is affecting other industries," Mencher maintains. "Our
industry is having record sales. What we're seeing is a combination of the
not-so-unusual year-end layoffs that we see every year at this time when games
have been shipped... plus a few companies that are having troubles, like EA,
which has been struggling for some two and a half years."
"Those companies are
going through some much-needed restructuring, just like the banking industry, which
had to restructure after the problems they encountered."
On the opposite coast, T.J. Summers, a senior partner and
co-owner of LA-based recruiter Digital
Artist Management, suggests that the industry -- especially the console sector --
is going through a "reset" regarding how it is using its developer
"Distributed development and outsourcing are becoming
more of a predominant part of the industry," he explains. "Publishers
are taking a hard look at their portfolios, determining what they can do
in-house, giving their core games to their best people, and handing off some of
the others to outside resources. As a result, a lot of people are being let go."
"In the case of some publicly traded companies -- like EA, THQ, and Midway -- it's
part and parcel of their need to prove to their stockholders that they're being
fiscally responsible. And given today's economic times, they are making
significant cuts quicker than they ordinarily would."
Summers' best recommendation to developers who see obvious layoffs coming at their companies is to start collecting their work,
updating their resume, and reconnecting with old colleagues, because networking
is of primary importance.
Summers reports that, yes, companies are hiring... but not
necessarily the ones that are on the top of developers' lists.
"If someone is passionate about creating games only, particularly
console games, it's very hard to replace that type of satisfaction," he
admits. "But there's a lot of good stuff going on elsewhere now in web, in
mobile, in the simulation industry, in the Web 2.0 area. And these companies,
many of which are hiring, have quite a few ways with which they can use game
Summers' bottom line is that while everyone should, without
question, have a reason for concern, there are a lot of opportunities if you're flexible, if
you're willing to adapt your gaming skills to some of the new growth sectors,
and, particularly, if you're willing to relocate.
"Relocating cannot be overlooked," he says. "Some
of the geographic regions that have traditionally been big gaming areas -- like
Austin, Dallas, and Chicago -- are having their business slowly trickle away.
People who reside there and want to stay there ought to either think about
other options outside of games... or consider moving elsewhere."
Title photo by Kevin Dooley, used under Creative Commons license.