Finding success in the gaming industry isn't just about your technical know-how; you've got to possess the skills to apply that knowledge in the most effective ways. Let's take a look at what they are and how you can master them.
The UK video games market is worth a colossal £7.16 billion. While the recent uplift in this figure was jumpstarted by the pandemic, the market continued to grow throughout 2021 once COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed. This growth is due in large part to several factors, including the introduction of new technologies, a massive uptick in eSports players and the expansion of 5G. All this means even more demand for talent to fill the growing number of roles popping up in the industry.
Now consider this: In 2020, it was estimated that 27,000 people in the UK were employed within the gaming sector, which was forecast to triple by 2025. It couldn’t be a more exciting time to join this fast-paced, innovative industry.
So, maybe you’re thinking about enrolling in a gaming course to start in the autumn, you’re currently studying gaming and want to be proactive about mastering key skills ahead of graduation, or perhaps you’re about to finish your degree in gaming and are getting the real-world jitters about landing a job with one of the AAA studios following graduation? Either way, at dBs we believe in arming you with all the necessary information to succeed in your chosen careers. We make sure you have the technical capabilities covered with the guidance and support of our tutors.
But it’s not always easy to master soft skills or know which ones are vital to succeeding in a gaming career. So, we’ve put together a list of the most important soft skills employers are looking for in their gaming hires. Master these and you’ll have a rewarding career.
Did you know that 800,000 graduates leave UK university or college settings every year? That’s a lot of competition, especially in the digital and tech space where the quality of talent is particularly high. In addition, creative companies are hiring less since the pandemic, so it's no surprise then that finding your first role after graduation can take anything from three to 18 months. This is why the skill of perseverance can really be valuable.
We spoke to a dBs guest speaker Bjørn Jacobson, who recommended researching how to write a good cover letter, as it’s your first introduction to your potential employer and first impressions really do count. Bjørn also explained that the first person reading your application is often a member of HR and sometimes getting past them onto a shortlist of candidates can be about playing the long game.
He recommends writing confidently and not being afraid to showcase your achievements, then pairing it back if needed. Showcasing your experience, skills and knowledge is the only thing that’s going to open doors for you. Don’t ever talk down your experiences or skills; no one else is going to be your hype person - it’s all on you.
There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big and showing ambition. It shows potential employers a lot about your passion, motivation, determination and your long-term aspirations. Within applications, or even better during the interview stage, we recommend briefly explaining to the team what you enjoy creating, what your ideal role would be or a project/team you’d love to be a part of.
Hearing a graduate’s enthusiasm and where they see their career heading is as useful as the grade you were awarded. It lets them see how you would fit logistically and culturally into the company as well as understand how they can help you smash those ambitious goals you set at the outset.
Multi-tasking is a great trait to have and one that takes practice if you’re not naturally blessed with the skill. This is especially true for the gaming industry. Whether you’re an intern or the CEO, you need to be able to spin multiple plates without missing deadlines or project deliverables. In a way, your time studying is great practice for building up your multi-tasking skills as you'll need to keep track of multiple projects with overlapping deadlines. If you’re struggling, try to implement processes that will help you. Multi-tasking is a skill, and like any other, it can be learned, practised and improved.
To make it easy for you, we’ve put together some quick tips on making multi-tasking less daunting.
- Set realistic goals
- Give yourself enough time to complete those goals
- Prioritise your tasks
- Plan your week in daily sprints and use the time-blocking technique to stay productive and hit your deadlines
- Avoid distractions
- Take regular breaks - this is important for your ability to be creative and productive
We mentioned prioritising your tasks earlier and although it may sound super simple, writing down all tasks and then using a system to prioritise them is the most effective way to schedule what needs doing when. That's the same during your time as a student as well as once you’re working in a gaming studio. We suggest getting familiar with Eisenhowers Principle. It can help you better manage your tasks, work through them more effectively and even prioritise them in order of importance and urgency, rather than haphazardly doing what you fancy at any given time.
Employers are looking to hire well-rounded, T-shaped people. Let us explain what this means. A person with T-shaped skills has a deep knowledge and understanding in one specialist area, but also has skills in complementary areas. For example, you might be an expert in gaming art where you’re more focused on the artistic, creative side of designing gaming apps, but you may also have some knowledge of gaming tech and can support the team in basic programming or developing UX. Make sense? As a gaming student, you should strive to be a T-shaped talent, as this will help you stand head and shoulders above the rest and land a job in the industry quickly.
4. Great communicator
Whatever course you choose to embark on is going to instil certain qualities which will give you a competitive advantage post-graduation. And being a great communicator is one of those qualities that will help you excel when you finish up your degree.
When we asked dBs guest speaker Bjørn Jacobson what set him apart from other entry-level people on his team, he said he simply tried to be friendly and ask plenty of questions. Senior staff always remember who asks thoughtful questions, as it demonstrates a genuine interest and thirst for learning. He also encouraged students and graduates to have opinions and not be afraid to voice them respectfully. The key is to know where you can add the greatest value and when to let others with specialist skills take the lead.
Adam Boyne, one of the co-founders and technical lead at Betajester, also recommends looking into communications platforms that studios could use to communicate internally and manage projects efficiently, such as Trello, Slack and Discord. If you level up your skills by using these platforms and adding them to your CV, it could very well give you the edge over a candidate who hasn’t taken that initiative.
More than ever, businesses need to be flexible and agile in how they operate, and they need staff who can also function this way. According to the graduate advisory board Prospects, it can be beneficial to show your adaptability in your job applications (and interviews) by giving an example of a time when you had to learn a new skill or perhaps adapt to a challenging situation. This example could be from other studying you may have done in your younger years, or even from a part-time job or internship you’ve completed. A real-world example of how you overcame difficult situations is a great insight into your personality and how adaptable you are in those situations.
Being new to the industry, you won’t always be doing the most fun or glamourous tasks and that may feel disheartening at times. But just by physically being in these creative environments, you will absorb so much information about processes, platforms, managing a mixture of personalities and seeing where you need to develop, that it ends up being an immensely valuable experience in your career. If you’re asked to work on something that you don’t think is in your remit or doesn’t directly match your skill set, the best advice we can give is to just give it a go. Be fearless; try something new and you might find that you enjoy it and are even good at it. Early in your career, it’s good to roll with the punches as much as possible. You never know, you might find a niche you love and had never considered.
We hope that this run-down is useful and has given you a clear understanding of vital soft skills you need not only throughout your course, but also upon entering the workforce. If you'd like to talk through what gaming courses we offer and join our upcoming gaming panel event, Make Your Mark in the Gaming Industry, feel free to get in touch.