CyberConnect2 CEO Hiroshi Matsuyama knows a thing or two about working in the game industry after having started his own company “CyberConnect” with college buddies back in 1996, which then grew into the CyberConnect2 we know today. In his weekly column, Matsuyama shared his advice for the easiest way to break into the game industry by joining a video game company.
Below is the full translation of Matsuyama-san’s blog post:
“What’s the easiest entry to work for a video game company?” Frankly, it’s QA.
Hiroshi Matsuyama, CyberConnect2 CEO: Not all video game companies have a ‘QA’ department, but most of them do (including CyberConnect2).
QA (Quality Assurance) might sound imposing, but to put it simply, it is ‘debugging.’ The work involves playing video game software that is being developed and looking for flaws to put together in a report.
I’m saying this now to make sure there aren’t any misunderstandings, but there’s an aptitude for the QA department, so that means it can’t be just about anyone.
“When, where, what situation, what condition did it happen? Were there any reappearances? How serious was it?” are some of the matters that must be accurately reported, so you must have the ability to convey this information as accurate as possible to those in charge of the department.
That said, the most in-demand positions in game development are generally game designer, programmer, and artist. Those positions require more unique skill and knowledge (which is a given) so they’re more in demand on a much higher level.
When it comes to hiring new graduates (out of technical/vocational schools and college), to be real, they have to be considerably talented. (Speaking from experience, they’re the exceptional one in every hundred or so.)
That’s just the way the current video game development scene is, and it doesn’t look like it’ll be changing anytime soon. Those who aren’t capable simply won’t be hired.
For example, if we hire someone who isn’t capable, they become a ‘burden’ by being the ‘source of a bug’ (this might be a bad way to put it), so that means others who should be working on something else would end up getting more unnecessary work to help them.
We simply can’t invest in a ‘burden’ in the always-busy development scene.
On one hand, QA does ‘require an aptitude’ but same could be said about any part-time job.
There are a lot of people who think “I want to become a game programmer and join a game company!” or “I want to work as a 3D artist but I’m not talented enough!” or “I want to take on projects as a game designer but I have no results to show for so I can’t get accepted!” and such, right?
To those people, I recommend QA.
First, join a video game company.
Then learn about the atmosphere of the scene.
As a QA debugger, it doesn’t matter if you start out as a part-timer, so just join.
On account of the duties of a debugger, you’ll talk with people of various positions. With game designers, programmers, artists, and sound. Since you’ll have the ‘duty for concrete report for occurring bugs,’ that’s a given.
And with those ongoing exchanges, you’ll get to ‘observe the activities of each department and watch how a video game software shapes itself until completed, from beginning to end.’
All while getting an hourly wage.
From there it is fine to keep learning while continuing your own studies for what you want to do (be it game designer, programmer, or artist).
And when the time comes, you can go on the offense by challenging (applying) for the position. (You might be thinking “Huh? You can do that?” but you can. Well, at least at CyberConnect2.)
Although I do believe there are other ‘roads’ you can take.
However, it doesn’t begin without entering the games industry first, and there are surely many things you won’t find out until joining a game company.
‘Analyze and break down video game software, decide and report.’
So why not take your first step at becoming a video game creator by becoming a QA which is said to be the easiest entry point into the game industry?