So You Want to Write for Video Games? Some Resources.

Video games involve narrative, dialogue, text, instructions. Someone has to write that stuff. Could it be you? Breaking into the video game industry is difficult, particularly for those whose strength is crafting stories, not digital animation or coding. That said, it’s also a growth industry where new opportunities arise all the time.

Here’s a thoughtful overview of trends in video game writing.

Some practical advice on breaking into the industry:

If reading those links hasn’t scared you off, here are some places to start looking for opportunities.

If you’ve read the advice above carefully, you’ll know that your best strategy may involve networking, seeking contract work with a small company, or creating your own game. Internships at the big-name video game companies are highly competitive, but that’s not a reason not to compete. Here are links to a few that have internship programs OR extensive online job boards. As with any big-name internship, it’s a good idea to start your search for a summer 2018 internship in summer 2017.

 

How to Write a Resume

A resume is neither a really long business card, nor a really short autobiography. It’s an advertisement for yourself. A good resume is never a single static document. It should change all the time, depending on whom you are advertising TO and what parts of your background will be most relevant to that person.

The effective resume has one purpose: to get the reader to request a face-to-face meeting in which you can convey your full value.

Entire books, websites, library sections are devoted to the craft of resumes. For English/CW majors who are trying to put together their first resume — either to apply for a job or to have it handy in case a job comes up — we offer three “recipes” that range from easy-but-not-necessarily effective (“the resume kludge”) to hard-but-more-likely-to-advance-you-towards-your-goals (“the resume design”).

Have you been reluctant to develop your resume because you don’t yet have relevant work experience? You can find some advice to get you started here, here, and here.

Recipe 1: The resume kludge. Continue reading

Entrepreneurship and…English Majors? Oh, YES.

One of the newest additions to our Alumni Mentoring Network is Timothy Tonella, CEO of Matchstar Venture Search. Tim writes,

I’ve been directly involved in the placement of over 420 technology VPs and C-level executives into venture backed companies across the company….I frequently coach CEOs and presidents on strategies and tactics for finding their next opportunity, positioning themselves (and their personal brand), and how to connect independently (through a private job search) with potential hiring managers – in this case, board members investing in technology companies. I’m also a venture partner in a venture capital fund (www.theexplorergroup.com),”

 

Tim shared how he got his start using English skills to succeed in realms not usually associated with English majors: 

The IEEE branch at U of I (at least back in 1986) was the largest student engineering organization in the nation.  I wanted have something significant on my resume as an interviewing senior and found a small clause in IEEE bi-laws that allowed non-engineering students to become an “affiliate member.”  Truth be told, my college roommate – who is now a big time Silicon Valley CEO – was President of IEEE at the time and helped me identify that exclusion.  As an affiliate member, I could technically run for office.  So I gave a speech – a pitch – to 400 engineering students about what I could do for them as the no. 2 guy (treasurer) of IEEE and beat out 10 engineering students to basically run the largest collegiate engineering branch in the country . . . as an English major!  Funny thing is that no one ever knew I wasn’t an engineering student.”

Entrepreneurship is a huge opportunity – not just for engineering students – but any kid with the drive, ambition, and the creative spirit to build something significant.  Here’s a fun video from about 7 years ago.  I found Google’s no. 1 engineer (had just won the coveted President’s Award at Google for all his work on gmail apps), and we started a company on the side together.  This video was part of a 4-segment highlight show (Tesla was also feature next to us) that ran directly after “60 Minutes” across 20 million cable subscribers:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cbi_Rm5SRE….You don’t have to be a top engineer or 4.0 business student to do some exciting things in the business world.

creative mind is the MOST valuable thing a student can possess, and that’s something you often see with English majors.

For English/CW majors interested in exploring entrepreneurship, there are a couple of upcoming campus opportunities to know about.

  • Entrepreneurship Forum
    Tuesday, April 25 and Wednesday, April 26, Illini Union
    Join the Offices of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Research for the annual Entrepreneurship Forum. There will be workshops on the new Siebel Center for Design; entrepreneurial resources available on campus and funding; and awarding of the $20,000 Illinois Innovation Prize. All students welcome. Register today for this fantastic event!
    Contact: Stephanie Larson

And, of course, we encourage you to join the alumni mentoring network so you can contact Tim and other English/CW alumni currently working in business to learn more about how to use your amazing communication and problem-solving skills in the business world.

Forget Finding Your Passion

passiflora-588757_1920If you know what your passion is, stop reading this post and go pursue it. Go! Now! Enough procrastinating on the internet! Get started on the thing that you long for, that terrifies you, that is worth the inevitable sleepless nights and bouts of rejection. You know what you need to do, so get on with it. Seriously.

 

The rest of you?

Set passion aside for now. “Find your passion” is a worthy lifetime goal, but if you can’t yet envision even the haziest contours of what that passion might be, it’s not a particularly useful quest to start with.

  • Caring about something, does not necessarily mean caring about it enough to build a life around it.
  • “Passion” conveys a level of creativity, innovation, single-mindedness, and commitment that many well-lived, successful, happy lives don’t meet.
  • Your life experience to date may not have revealed the particular strengths or interests that will help you leave your mark on the world.

There are plenty of online tools to help you find your way to your “passion”–if that’s really how you want to frame the question of your post-graduation plans. Just google “find your passion,” and be wary of sites that are clearly trying to peddle the author’s book.

If you want some concrete next steps to take towards your future career, ponder less and do more.

Thinking about a career in [______________]? Look for a way (internship, volunteer work, part-time job) to give it a try.

Wondering if you have enough talent for [_____________] to make a go of it? Practice doing it, and put yourself out there in front of an audience sooner rather than later.

Curious about whether [_______________] would be something you’d be good at and enjoy? Find an online tutorial, take a class, use LinkedIn or the alumni mentoring network to find people who can tell you more about it.

Not even sure where to begin? Get involved with an RSO, work for a campus publication, sign up for a new activity, take the next volunteering opportunity that comes your way.

The more things you do, the more data points you’ll have to guide you to life after college. But don’t just frenetically do things: look for ways to learn from the experience you accrue.

  • what kinds of things are you good at without working at them or thinking too much about them?
  • what challenges prompt you to get obsessive and lose track of time?
  • what kinds of tedious chores are you willing to do that other people resist?
  • what kinds of people are you happiest working with?
  • what do you need to be reasonably happy?
  • what activities do you want to try that you haven’t yet?

Let your answers guide you to the next thing you try.

Your first job out of college probably won’t be your dream job. That’s okay. But the more you know about what you’re good at and what gives you satisfaction, the more likely you are to land in something that will help get you to where you want to be, even if you don’t know where that is yet.