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  • Putting Together a Compelling Resume and Demo

    - Robin McShaffry

  • Tell the Story

    Always give credit where credit is due. If you use a scene in your demo that includes the work of other artists, designers or programmers, you must make it abundantly clear at the outset that the scene is collaborative, and fully describe your contribution. Include a complete shot-by-shot credit list with your demo, unless all the work presented is your own. There's nothing more frustrating to a hiring manager than to discover too late in the process that the candidate in whom he had interest is not as well-rounded as his demo has portrayed. Have some samples of your work flow, showing the steps you took to get from concept drawing to fully executed finished piece can be very impressive.

    All of these tools and tips apply equally to game designer and level designer demos. Game companies are always interested in seeing a level designer's skill. Show your levels in a movie file, as well as in the editor. Talk about which editor you used to build your level and why. Give credit to the builders of your models, textures and characters if you did not create them all from scratch. While a level designer is not always required to have the same artistic skill as a qualified game artist, you should still endeavor to show your artistic prowess alongside your writing abilities.

    The game level designer is a Jack- or Jill-of-all-trades, using art, writing, and organizational and technical skills. Other art careers like graphic design, architecture, web design, scene design, and illustration all have parallels to the game industry, but none of them individually represents the wide scope of competencies needed to be a game artist or designer. Building a great graphical demo reel to complement your resume and writing samples will only strengthen your position.


    Engineers should supply sample code or working game pieces as part of their submissions, or on a personal web site. Show well-organized and well-documented code. Do not submit code that is part of a project that's copyrighted by another company. You should always ask before sending over a code sample. Some companies are very careful about what they receive, so make sure you are only sending what they want to see. Present your samples on CD, following the guidelines above, for a professional presentation.

    What Not to Do

    When you are seeking your first game job, do not send game ideas!

    All game companies have a careful process they go through when considering new ideas for new games, and they generally do not include unsolicited ideas from random applicants.

    Always do your homework, and know as much as possible about a company you are applying to, but don't be arrogant, and don't assume that they want to know right up front everything they did wrong on their last five titles. Critical assessment of game development is an important skill, but so is tact.

    You should also avoid many of the pitfalls of job seeking in any industry in North America. Don't include a picture of yourself on your resume. Don't give away your age, marital status, or any other personal information, other than contact information, on a resume meant for a U.S. company. There are different protocols for other countries.

    Have an email address and web site domain name that are professional in nature. [email protected] is not a professional sounding email address, and is destined to make people wonder about your intentions! It also makes it difficult to match up a resume in hand with a first and last name with the email address in the hiring manager's inbox.


    Getting a job in the game industry requires talent, creativity, perseverance and commitment. It also requires common sense, communication skills, and demonstrable proof of your abilities. Putting together a compelling resume and demo is just the first step to achieving greatness in your new career!

    By Robin McShaffry 


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