The war for talent in interactive entertainment and game development in general has reached a fever pitch. As noted by Mary-Margaret Walker in a recent Games Industry International article, the game industry is facing a talent shortage. And not everyone realizes it.
It’s nothing new, however, with new studios, old studios, start-ups and established franchises all looking for talent, not to mention corporate America (and even the government) getting into the act. It’s getting pretty rough out there for production managers and talent. How you source and hire talent, could be the difference between your next runaway hit and a not-so-big hit.
So how do you find the right talent? Here’s what we hear from production managers and studios who are out there in the trenches:
- Find them before they find you – Have an active sourcing program that targets the types of people and skills you are looking for. Targeted is the key here – rather than a shotgun approach that will have you looking through hundreds of unqualified or unneeded candidates and portfolios.
- Make time for recruiting (and make your leads make time) – Like it or not, some time needs to be spent on interviewing or at least providing quality feedback to your recruiters. Make this part of everyone’s job.
- Get help – There are places to go for help, especially if you are a smaller studio or ramping up quickly. Find a good fit with a recruiting partner who understands your situation.
- Think about timing – The production plan means nothing if you don’t have the talent. Make arrangements well ahead and plan for the types of numbers of people you will need – and when you will need them.
- Communicate whether you're building a studio, or a game – There are always going to be short-term needs and long-term needs. Identify and prioritize your talent needs. Are you working towards a ship date or filling a critical role for the future?
- Take chances – Not everyone will have a AAA game on their resume. All of those who do, at one time started a job without it. Create a solid process that hires for potential and become known as a studio where great people started. There are risks, but with a talent shortage, you have to take some chances.
- Communicate your culture in the hiring process – The way to ensure a good fit is to attract people that “get” your culture. The more they understand about it before they are hired, the better they will likely fit in after they are hired.
- Create an efficient process – No one likes to be ignored and in a competitive market, good talent will move on if you don’t get back to them in a timely manner. This is critical, especially for smaller studios. Get your process together, or get help. It can make a big difference – and word of mouth, both good and bad, spreads quickly.
- Be clear and honest – Make your job postings descriptive and tell candidates what you want to see (and expect to see). Do you want a link to their portfolio, do you want to download a game they worked on or do you want them to take a test before you’ll talk to them. It’s a good way to start a relationship in general.
- Take a page out of corporate America’s playbook – Empower your employees to help with recruiting efforts. There are referral bonuses, social networks and plain old ‘networking’ that can be done by your employees to help find good people. And always remember – good people tend to know and attract other good people.
What kid wouldn’t want to work for a great game studio and go on to help produce the next big game? But not everyone is up to the challenge. Creating a solid hiring process and a robust talent pipeline is the name of the game (pun intended) to take your development and production to the next level.