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Mobile Mavens: Jobs 2024: How to find talent you the need and how to land your d | Pocket Gamer.biz

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Mobile Mavens: Jobs 2024: How to find talent you the need and how to land your d | Pocket Gamer.biz

Last year, the games industry saw massive layoffs across the board, and unfortunately, that trend seem set to continue. As more job losses take place there’s an uncertainty of when the end will be in sight.

With many still looking for their next gig in games, we asked our industry experts for their thoughts on the state of jobs within the industry and the hiring process.

Is there really a talent shortage? Or is there a shortage of talent to fill what roles there are? How can teams attract the best talent and how can you, as a possible candidate, stand out?

Here’s what our Mavens had to say.

Will you be recruiting in 2024?

Depending on how a couple of deals go in the next month or two, it will range from yes to yes – massively scaling up the team.

Does your team have the talent it needs?

I think you can always add more smart, talented people to a team. But we do have an excellent team right now.

Do you feel like there is a talent shortage right now?

We’re already hiring internationally, so I wouldn’t necessarily say no. At one point, I tried to get some people into the US and found the VISA process absolutely atrocious. I’m now more of a fan of remote work with the best people anywhere in the world.

How do you intend to attract the best talent?

I wish there were a secret formula. I think you just always have to be looking and building those relationships. I’ve found the Who book by Geoff Smart to have a really great process for finding, vetting and hiring ‘A’ players.

What tips could you offer those looking for work in the games industry?

I kind of like to say screw the traditional job-searching approach. Most aren’t bold enough to do this, but if I needed a job today, here’s what I’d do:

  1. I’d identify the company I want to work for.
  2. I’d identify the area/leader in that company I want to work for.
  3. I’d contact a few people who work for that leader and ask them – what are 2-3 problems that person is actively trying to solve in the next 12 months. For example, what is a big enough problem they’re spending time/money trying to fix?
  4. I’d dive into learning how to solve one or two of those problems and come up with a big plan.
  5. Contact the leader and tell them I want to come in and own solving X for them and see if they have a few minutes to chat.
  6. Pitch them my ideas, sell them on the vision and secure my next gig. You still have to come in and own/solve that problem. But it probably is way faster and more likely to get you in the door and at a higher position than you would with the traditional resume lottery. No one else is going to do something like this. But senior execs have certain priorities,, and if you can truly take over and own one of those priorities,, it will be huge for them.

Mobile Mavens: Jobs 2024: How to find talent you the need and how to land your d | Pocket Gamer.biz

Will you be recruiting in 2024?

Yes. We hired 45 people in 2023 and have 14 roles open currently. With the success of our debut casual puzzle game, Chrome Valley Customs, we are now committing to mastery of that genre and will be investing more in both that game, and more puzzle games. This means we’re competing with decade old incumbents and teams of hundreds of people, so we’re committed to scaling to meet that challenge.

Does your team have the talent it needs?

For the most part: yes. But as we scale we will be bringing in people with more specialist expertise especially in product management, casual puzzle and production experience scaling teams. We have some talented people in these disciplines, but need more to be competitive.

Do you feel like there is a talent shortage right now?

No, we received over 18k job applications last year, for 45 hires. We are very privileged in London as there is no shortage of game development talent with an ecosystem that spans decades, multiple generations of console and mobile development, as well as some of the pioneers of free to play and some big exits that have fuelled an active entrepreneurial ecosystem. Also London has great commuter connections so a hybrid working model makes it easy to work with people outside of the city and appeal to a diverse range of candidates. With all of the economic pressures facing games companies today, there is no shortage of talent in and around London, or willing to relocate to London.

There are of course other challenges in London. It’s expensive, but not much more than other gaming hubs. Brexit made it harder to recruit for startups, and for lower skilled roles, but that notwithstanding London remains the best place in the world to have a game studio that favours quality over quantity.

How do you intend to attract the best talent?

I’ve found the best way to attract talent is to be doing interesting things. Gaming is a creative enterprise and top talent doesn’t want to be working for shovelware sweatshops, or single genre studios, or in massive teams with no autonomy, or for leaders who don’t take any creative risks. There are so many studios who fit that criteria – are genuinely creatively interesting places to work – but they just don’t get out and talk about what they are doing.

Our best recruiting always came when we were actively sharing and giving back to the game dev community, so we intend to do more of that. Like when we were developing Chrome Valley Customs we had to develop our own level design and balancing tools. We did a Pocket Gamer Connects talk where we shared what we’ve done and shared it on LinkedIn. It’s doing the rounds amongst puzzle designers and getting a lot of really positive feedback

This also plays into our slate decisions. We are a multi genre studio with a strong position in each of the music, strategy and casual puzzle categories, and a track record of taking interesting creative bets. It does mean we pass on some types of opportunities and choose to make the kinds of games we’d be proud of vs games that might make more sense commercially but there is so much overlap here it doesn’t feel like a compromise.

What tips could you offer to those who are looking for work in the games industry?

  1. Who you work with and for is way more important than your job title, pay and anything else. If you can afford to do so, seek out companies that you feel are growing and doing interesting things, and then just nail whatever job needs to be done no matter whether it is on your chosen career path or in your job description.
  2. And make games. No really! University projects don’t count! Collaborate with a few people to develop and publish your own game end to end. If you are an artist – learn a no-code language to push a simple but beautiful and on-market game. If you are a coder – learn to source functional art. Set up analytics and ad accounts.
  3. Get experience in all facets of game making. We will interview 99% of people who’s CV is a link to a live game even if it’s rubbish, because that demonstrates a curiosity and vulnerability that usually translates to being a good game maker.
  4. Don’t accept a rejection. Push for reasons, turn up to the studio’s events, keep in touch. Give the hiring manager respectful feedback on their performance. Send in feedback on the latest update. Perseverance can feel like you’re being annoying, but it also often works.
  5. Over-prepare. Go for quality over quantity. Pick a few studios you want to work for and study everything about them. Approach their staff on Linkedin for advice. Stalk the founders. Be active in their discord. Strive to teach them something about their business in the interview. Never fire off generic letters to studios you only superficially know. Such an approach might feel like progress but it never works and just ends up demoralizing you.
  6. Have side hustles. If you are fortunate to end up in a big company that offers a narrow scope role, rather than the well rounded experience of a smaller company, then take control of your own career and get that experience on the side.

Mobile Mavens: Jobs 2024: How to find talent you the need and how to land your d | Pocket Gamer.biz

Martine Spaans
Owner
Tamalaki

Martine Spaans runs publishing label Tamalaki.com; a boutique publisher with a hands-on approach, specialised in Hidden Object, Match-3 and Simulation games.

Tamalaki joined forces with partner-company FGL.com, which focuses on idle/clicker gamer, card and board games, and silly puzzles.

Will you be recruiting in 2024?

With Tamalaki Publishing, we’ve always kept overhead low by operating with a really small team. I don’t foresee that we’ll be expanding the team in 2024.

For the Dutch Games Association, we’re currently looking for two new board members, but we can hardly count that as recruitment as these are voluntary positions.

Do you feel like there is a talent shortage in your region? If so, why do you think this is, and how can we combat it?

Answering this from my perspective at the Dutch Games Association, I don’t think there is a lack of talent. We have many high-quality game education institutions in the Netherlands, and a lot has improved in recent years in terms of the relevant knowledge that graduates bring along.

What we do lack is the right incentives to bring experts from other countries to the Netherlands. Other European countries have talent tax breaks that are more suited for the games industry. As the Dutch trade association, we see a role for ourselves in helping improve this.

What tips could you offer those looking for work in the games industry?

In 2024, times could be a bit rough with all the recent layoffs, meaning there’s probably a lot of competition for open positions. While on your job hunt, you don’t have to sit it out and wait. There are plenty of opportunities to self-start your games career.

Participate in game jams, join developer groups in your area and networking events, look into online courses to hone your skills, stay on top of the game industry news, etc.

Mobile Mavens: Jobs 2024: How to find talent you the need and how to land your d | Pocket Gamer.biz

Does your team have the talent it needs?

I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be part of not just one but two exceptional teams – Game Dev London and Fribbly Games.

Game Dev London boasts a brilliant team of diverse experts, each bringing unique perspectives and expertise to the table. However, it’s important to acknowledge the challenges we face due to the volunteer-based nature of Game Dev London, which can sometimes limit the availability of specific talents. Yet the collaborative spirit within this team is nothing short of invigorating.

At Fribbly Games, it’s not just a team; it’s a gathering of individuals who excel in their respective fields and share an unwavering passion for pushing the boundaries of game development. The motivation is palpable, and working alongside such skilled professionals elevates our projects to new heights.

Do you feel like there is a talent shortage in your region? If so, why do you think this is, and how can we combat it?

As we assess the talent landscape in our region, a fascinating revelation emerges – it’s not a talent shortage but a shift in the dynamics of the job market. Employers find themselves spoiled for choice, with a plethora of skilled individuals seeking opportunities. The potential candidate pool is diverse, offering a rich mix of skills, experiences, and perspectives.

To address the challenges arising from this abundance of talent, organisations need to refine their recruitment strategies. Beyond technical skills, emphasis on cultural fit, soft skills, and adaptability to industry trends is crucial. Building strong relationships with educational institutions and investing in internship programs can unearth and nurture emerging talent.

How do you intend to attract the best talent?

In my pursuit of top-tier talent, I’ve always prioritised face-to-face interactions. In the current climate, where skills are abundant, cultural fit becomes paramount for me, especially for indie studios where team cohesion is the death or strength of a studio. This personal touch goes a long way in ensuring long-term success.

What tips could you offer those looking for work in the games industry?

  1. Entering the gaming realm requires adaptability, I can tell you, having been in the industry for over a decade, trends and requirements can shift unexpectedly. Understanding the challenges from 2023, such as crazy release schedules, financial roller coasters, inflation headaches, and questionable business moves, is a powerful tool. Awareness of these issues helps fine-tune skills to align with the industry’s evolving needs.
  2. Focus on core game skills. In a landscape where resources may be constrained, solid foundations in coding, design, or project management are invaluable. Practicality is key; develop hands-on, must-have skills for game development. Acknowledge the impact of inflation on the industry, especially in development costs. Stay informed about how businesses are addressing these challenges and be ready to contribute innovative ideas.
  3. Adopt a marathon mentality. Job hunting and career growth in the gaming industry are marathons, not sprints. Brace yourself for a competitive job market, explore internships or freelancing for experience, and showcase your skills confidently.
  4. Stay abreast of trends, especially with the console generation hitting its midpoint. Being well-informed can be a game-changer for those eyeing opportunities in the next-gen games. Networking is gold. Connect with gaming communities, attend events, and dive into gaming circles. Networking opens doors, and staying informed about the latest tech and trends is invaluable.
  5. Prepare for a competitive job market. Proactiveness, exploring internships, and showcasing adaptability and problem-solving skills in personal projects can make you stand out in a crowded job market.

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