April 15, 2011

Last night I was really fortunate enough to rant at the IGDA Open Mic Night in Toronto! What basically happened was that anyone who had a rant idea would apply for a 5 minute speech, and if chosen applicants would, well, rant. 12 people were chosen, and all of them had a unique and interesting perspective on the games industry. The event was held at Bar 244 which I found to be cozy and more friendly in terms of talking with other dev’s, instead of the Elephant Castle, or the Unit Bar. Beers were only $3 as well, so what could go wrong!

Being one of the selected speakers, I was really happy to express myself (and be in the same line up) to so many developers that inspire me. It was an awesome experience, but at some points I completely froze up and I found myself rushing. My topic was “Get Out of Your Mamma’s Basement” if you weren’t able to attend (originally “Join a Club, Get Involved with the Community”). I was particularly happy that a lot of fellow students were there to support the event, and helping prove my rant (Seriously, I love you guys!)

In order of doing it justice,  here is the complete transcript of my planned rant;  I recommend you all  spread the word! If you have any questions or comments, post them below and tell me what you think! I would like to thank everyone who helped organize/run the event, and everyone that attended, spoke, or event tweeted the event to create buzz!!

Look at this happy bunch!

First and foremost, let me give you the low down, networking is about making a connection with someone. This can be achieved either by sharing a common interest, expanding an idea, or having a nice cold beer with some new friends. However, networking is not about resumes, business cards, or job openings. Many people get the misconception that it is, but they’re wrong. It’s definitely important to get yourself financial stable, but the sole focus on networking should and always be on creating a new experience. A one-sided piece of paper that contains your entire game development career (at least the good stuff) will not be enough to get you a job, unless you’re really really skilled at what you do. People shouldn’t be relying heavily on this method if they ever want to become “Chief Animated Designer Sound Guy”. If you keep pressuring someone you met at an IGDA event, then it completely ruins any chance you have at building a relationship with them, or any future projects they might want to start.

Go Banana!

What I’m trying to say is that networking should be more fun than work. Sadly enough, the biggest culprits of this fallacy are students, the ones that need to network in order to break into this industry. Some people have talent, some don’t, but the real issue is that students don’t get involved enough to even see what their fellow developers are doing. What happened to “Will make games for free?”. They expect to graduate Hernando Velasquez School for the Digitally Inclined, and hope to get a big salary position at Blizzard or EA. I know for a fact that at least 80% of students at my school don’t come to these events, but they should. They’re seriously missing out, and to anyone here that is a student, I salute you! All you guys need to start spreading the word that students need to connect and get involved ! Those who don’t come out are just dead meat. Now, to counter point, I help run the  Game Developers Club at my school, and this club focuses a lot on having guest speakers, and getting voluntary experience (If you ever want to speak for the club, let me know). The deeper issue is that students are scared, plain and simple.

Let me give you a quick example of a common situation that might happen. Let’s say you have a game company that’s looking for students to work over the summer. This is a quality experience job for you as a student, so you apply of course! You tell you’re friends and they apply for the same position too; you want them to have the same opportunity at being successful as you are. In terms of skill, you’re all pretty much the same, no one is higher, no one is lower. Since you’re the one that’s’ well known in the community already for going to IGDA, and Hand Eye Society events, the chance that you’ll land the job is a lot easier because you’re someone they can trust, at least depending on the connection you’ve had with them already. TL;DR, you got the summer job and congratulations! You tell you friends and they ask you how you simply say, “Well, I was just Mobling”. A new social term my friend created whenever someone is very connected (almost addicted) with the social media services that keep them in the loop of their industry.

If any students want to know the secret to networking success, my answer right now would be this little bird, twitter. Students don’t know how easy it is to network these days with websites like this. It completely erases any type of awkward hello’s you would do in person, and I’ve met a number of game dev’s using twitter and later seeing them at IGDA events. Creating a blog is also important if you want to get opinions and ideas out there. Students are supposed to be “cool” and “hip”, so Twitter is the place to be!

It’s time to get out of your parent’s basement and talk to people. We aren’t the social stereotypes we see in movies, TV, or even the internet anymore.


4 Responses to “IGDA Rant”

  1. i think you set a really good example for your fellow students last night. Your practiced what you preached by having the nuts to get up there!

    i was really happy that an event like this could provide less experienced speakers with mic time. Very good public speakers have had the benefit of practice, and i’m glad we had a shot practicing up some of our people so that Toronto can eventually take the mic on the world’s stage.

    Today, the basement of Bar 244 … tomorrow, GDC!

    Thanks again, Arthur!

    • Thanks Ryan for the words of encouragment! I hope after last night, more students will get connected, but not in the negative way I’ve been stressing.

      I’m really looking forward to the upcoming events throughout the summer too!

  2. Although I see your point, I’m not willing to fully concede that networking is benign. It has always struck me as a “bad word” or sorts, mainly due to its artificiality; going out to meet others for the initial intention of job connections. Yes, it’s possible to meet genuinely interesting people this way, but I’d rather meet them under somewhat different circumstances/intentions. It also seems a bit too akin to nepotism; two applicants for a job have roughly the same skills, but you hire the one you know? Or worse, hire the one you know anyway despite maybe not being as good? I’m sorry, but I’d rather have a meritocracy.

    This is especially true for the less socially inclined out there (like myself). You wanna gather fellow developers and talk about issues facing games (or other interesting topics)? Awesome. You wanna gather devs to make small-talk and drink? I don’t see the allure (especially since I don’t drink). Granted, I realize I’m somewhat of an outlier in this regard, but still.

    I know networking is part of the biz and a way of the world and I’ll have to become more adept at it to survive, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

    Re-reading what I wrote makes it sound like I’m completely bashing your rant; this was not my intent. It’s very well said, I just don’t fully agree. Please don’t take offense. =)

    • I think one the main reasons I feel this way networking is that we have such a good crowd here in Toronto. It can be a completely different in Vancouver, Seattle or Montreal, I don’t know.

      In terms of nepotism, I agree that both applicants should be given the same chance to show what they’re capable of, and to see how they work in team environments, that’s why we have interviews. Knowing the employees before hand can help you relax when those interviews come. One who has volunteer experience in his community shows a lot on a resume when you give one to potential future employees, and as students, we sort of depend on it a bit. In the example I provided, only the one student would have it.

      I’m a strong believer that networking could be talking to someone almost about anything; small talk or bigger issues. We all have the same common interest, and you wouldn’t necessarily only talk a certain way with your friends. Pretty much whenever the mood strikes, cheesy I know. It’s also less pressuring when school mates come with to enjoy the festivities together!

      I always appreciate and respect your comments Joe, and the events held in Toronto are always a lot of fun, and that’s what drives me to attend!

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