Gamers as Creators

Gamers as Creators
How Hard Can It Be?

Andrew Ryan | 21 Jun 2011 12:30
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"I wasn't even suggesting myself, I was just making some observations, but we kept in contact and I guess they liked what I had to say because they eventually hired me to help write Call of Juarez. Since then I've co-written, cast and directed the voice-over for all the Call of Juarez games, including the third one due out later this year, Call of Juarez: The Cartel. I also co-wrote Dead Island which is coming out later this year, so we've developed quite a partnership."

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The key to successful networking is not just demonstrating passion for videogames, but also showing off what skill sets you offer.

"The most important thing that someone needs to see about you after meeting you at a conference, whether you want to be a level designer, programmer, artist, marketing or sale, is that you're actively working on your own projects," says Walker. "If you want to be a level designer, you better have a collection of levels to show off. If you're a programmer, have some demos at the ready, even if the artwork is bad. A pro will more easily remember you if you combine action with your passion. If you're continually networking but saying 'I can't wait to start designing levels,' you're going to have a lot of short conversations."

Companies like GameSpark can help you build a portfolio. GameSpark provides the tools to design and develop a complete videogame, starting with creating simple 2D mazes and platforms, eventually progressing into complex 3D games. You don't need to know programming because you leverage a robust program called Game Maker to create games that demonstrate your understanding of fundamentals such as special relationships, what makes compelling game play, and how to avoid getting stuck in a wall. Additionally, you can use your creations to build your network of industry contacts.

"We encourage anyone who has completed the tutorials to share their creations in forums, with their friends to show off what you can do and to learn from others," says Amelia Petrovic, Marketing and Public Relations Manager for GameSpark. "As a tool, it's most valuable for gaining an understanding of the components and exploring your true level of interest of making the move into the industry."

Before he started networking at industry conferences and events, Orkin was able to make invaluable contacts simply by doing what he loved: playing videogames online. He was partial to Soldier of Fortune 2.

"I was recruited by a top clan and competed in tournaments, and eventually tracked down the person who wrote the script for the single player campaign. I told him I was a screen writer and made a bargain with him: I would help him with screen writing contacts if he would teach me about the game business. He introduced me to a lot of game developers and I invited every one of them to lunch."

That's how Orkin met a producer at Blizzard, and they kept in touch. When the producer moved to Atari, he recruited Orkin to work on Dungeons and Dragons: Dragonshard. That project marked his first step into the industry.

"I love the game business and I really believe that interactive narrative is an unexplored frontier," he adds. "It's thrilling to be on the ground floor of a new medium. I write the games I want to play just like I write the movies I want to see. I love working with game designers and producers and artists and programmers. Plus, so far, there's less B.S. than you find in Hollywood."

Freelancer Andrew Ryan is a native New Englander who has lived in South Florida for eight years and still can't get used to the summer heat and humidity.

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