Gabe Newell on Game Careers

Valve's Gabe Newell on Becoming a Game Developer on GameCareerGuide.com is a conversation with the Valve managing director about how best to pursue a career in the game development business. The interview is conducted by Dave Perry, who asks "Should I lie?" on how to get past the Catch-22 of needing experience to get a development job, and catches a bit of a slap in Gabe's response: "Don't lie. That's just a disaster on multiple levels. The best thing to do is to start making content using the mod tools that are out there. Whether you use Civilization or Warcraft III or Hammer doesn't matter as much as that you are building and shipping stuff to customers, getting their feedback, and then iterating your work. Mod development is better in a lot of ways of both honing your skills and demonstrating your talent to a potential employer than work experience as there are going to be fewer institutional barriers and creative constraints to limit the work you do." Thanks Mike Martinez.
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers
Nov 11, 2008, 06:43
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers Nov 11, 2008, 06:43
Nov 11, 2008, 06:43
 
my observation is getting hired is 99% pure luck + 1% Who you know. Or maybe vice-versa. It sure isn't based on resumes or portfolios or demos of work you've done.

its not just the game industry. hollywood and other creative industries also suffer from nepotism. its who you know, not what you know.
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers
Nov 10, 2008, 23:47
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers Nov 10, 2008, 23:47
Nov 10, 2008, 23:47
 
These days experience doesn't count for shit. I have over 13 and can't get a job these days,
Aye, I agree completely, expertise in coding, design, debugging, documenting, etc. counts for squat. 15 years exp including a few as senior programmer with major developer/publishers on 5-star AAA games, my observation is getting hired is 99% pure luck + 1% Who you know. Or maybe vice-versa. It sure isn't based on resumes or portfolios or demos of work you've done.
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers
Nov 10, 2008, 21:17
Enahs
 
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers Nov 10, 2008, 21:17
Nov 10, 2008, 21:17
 Enahs
 
Not being in the gaming industry at all, I do believe this makes me highly qualified to speak on this subject, and my opinion should have serious weight with industry vets.

Games are fun.
I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally.
- W. C. Fields
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers
Nov 10, 2008, 21:12
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers Nov 10, 2008, 21:12
Nov 10, 2008, 21:12
 
These days experience doesn't count for shit. I have over 13 and can't get a job these days, they only wanna hire people from the film bizz I guess Im F**kd

As I said, experience is secondary to somehow demonstrating what exactly you can do; whether that's through a portolio or some srot of test. Maybe the quality of your work isn't what the company you're applying to is looking for. Maybe your experience isn't related enough to the particular type of game they're working on. Or maybe just your personal attitude is putting them off. If you keep getting rejection after rejection, I'm sorry...but you really need to take a closer look at yourself and what it is you're offering.

I've never gone out of my way to hire people from the film biz. I'm actually more dubious about hiring animators or FX artists from the film industry as there's always the quesiton about whether or not they're looking to get back into the film industry, and are just biding their time to draw a paycheck until they can land the gig they really want. Ultimately, we want people who like games, like working on games, and won't feel like they're settling by working on them instead of movies.

Personally, I wouldn't work in the film industry unless I had absolutely no other choice.
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers
Nov 10, 2008, 20:58
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers Nov 10, 2008, 20:58
Nov 10, 2008, 20:58
 
Believe me, even if they don't respond developers ARE reading places like this.

Of course we are, why wouldn't we? Most of us started out as gamers and still are gamers.

It really boils down to convincing the studio you're trying to land a gig at that you can do the work they need. Whether that's a sharp portfolio with zero actual game experience, mod experience, or a pedigree from other game studios is almost completely irrelevant.

Most studios are desperate for qualified talent, but anyone worth their salt will check references, talk to previous employees, etc. to verify what's on the resume.

I've actually had a candidate send me a portfolio once that had renderings of characters they claimed were their own that someone on my team had actually built. The game industry is smaller than many people might think.

This comment was edited on Nov 10, 2008, 21:05.
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers
Nov 10, 2008, 16:49
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers Nov 10, 2008, 16:49
Nov 10, 2008, 16:49
 
you can even put a phd on your resume and nobody will question it.

Uh huh. Right.

Derek Smart
3000AD Games
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers
Nov 10, 2008, 16:01
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers Nov 10, 2008, 16:01
Nov 10, 2008, 16:01
 
I would still say experience trumps education too. The industry is highly volatile. You're only as good as your last game, and even companies like Ensemble Studios can get the ax. So developers need results, whether you have a degree or not. If you really want in and have the skills, the tools are there. Just be prepared to enter in a crazy industry filled with long hours, contract work, tenuous job security and the reality you may have to keep moving from state to state if you want to continue working on games.

It's not the case with everyone, and if you find a good company you may get lucky enough to hang on there for a few years or more. I only did it for two years and probably won't ever work in the industry again, but it was two of the best years of my life and worth every minute. So jump in, at least you can say you got to do your dream job.
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers
Nov 10, 2008, 15:46
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers Nov 10, 2008, 15:46
Nov 10, 2008, 15:46
 
Gabe is right on the money with getting your hands dirty with mods, but the other half of that one two punch is persistance in networking. You have to be able to sell yourself or you'll get nowhere fast. The access you have to developers today is a quantum leap above where it was a generation ago. Believe me, even if they don't respond developers ARE reading places like this.
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers
Nov 10, 2008, 13:56
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers Nov 10, 2008, 13:56
Nov 10, 2008, 13:56
 
Being an active participant in a beta-test project: submitting quality bugs, providing easy to read and proofread documentation, frequent communication and effective technical skills used to assist others will also get you noticed.

I had the high honor of being an invited beta-tester for FS9, a project that took the better part of two years and I spent many months on. It was all on line work, all media/files were shipped to my door by courier, there were private beta-tester newsgroup access for the testers to use to talk to each other and a web portal for formal bug reports. It was interesting to send off one of the Dr. Watson crash reports form the early builds and go "Hey, I know whose desk this report is going to end up on at 8am."

Sounds fun right? It was a labor of love indeed and FS2004 is a damned fine product that those Microsoft Game Studio guys (and gals) worked some magic on...and my point is that's the type of stuff anyone can do with their Mark I eyeball and if you don't know how to do mods it's a great way to get closer to knowing!

This comment was edited on Nov 10, 2008, 14:00.
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers
Nov 10, 2008, 13:05
7.
Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers Nov 10, 2008, 13:05
Nov 10, 2008, 13:05
 
These days experience doesn't count for shit. I have over 13 and can't get a job these days, they only wanna hire people from the film bizz I guess Im F**kd
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers
Nov 10, 2008, 12:44
6.
Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers Nov 10, 2008, 12:44
Nov 10, 2008, 12:44
 
Bit harsh to not include the "Should I lie?"

you can even put a phd on your resume and nobody will question it.
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Re: You don't need experience to work...
Nov 10, 2008, 12:40
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Re: You don't need experience to work... Nov 10, 2008, 12:40
Nov 10, 2008, 12:40
 
Gabe is right, and it's exactly how I got into the business. I worked with Empire Earth's editor in my free time, uploaded material, got it rated and was eventually noticed by SSSI who sent me an offer letter to come work for them on their following two games.

Being a masochist helps to stay IN the industry.
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers
Nov 10, 2008, 12:36
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers Nov 10, 2008, 12:36
Nov 10, 2008, 12:36
 
Bit harsh to not include the "Should I lie?" ;D

Really? I see it the same either way, but in the name of not harshing anyone's mellow, I've added it to the post. Mellow

This comment was edited on Nov 10, 2008, 12:37.
Stephen "Blue" Heaslip
Blue's News Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, El Presidente for Life
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You don't need experience to work...
Nov 10, 2008, 11:21
3.
You don't need experience to work... Nov 10, 2008, 11:21
Nov 10, 2008, 11:21
 
You don't need experience to work in the gaming industry, you just have to be a masochist. It is the only prerequisite. :-P
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers
Nov 10, 2008, 11:20
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers Nov 10, 2008, 11:20
Nov 10, 2008, 11:20
 
Heh, reading the reply without the original question, that sounded more like a kick in the groin than a slap, and made me wonder if Gabe was in the middle of his PMS cycle or something.

In the context of the question, though ("Should I lie?"), I can't even see a minor slap in there. Seems like a fairly straight answer to me.
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Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers
Nov 10, 2008, 11:19
1.
Re: Gabe Newell on Game Careers Nov 10, 2008, 11:19
Nov 10, 2008, 11:19
 
Bit harsh to not include the "Should I lie?" ;D
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