I came back yesterday from a short, one-day trip to Vannes, Brittany, for a conference in a technology school, IUT Vannes. This day was organized by students and they invited a lot of people around the subjects that mattered to them, like cyberdefense, online personality, online payments, etc. About 20 different professionals were gathered and had talks and conferences on their jobs.
I did a short presentation on video games, production, financial questions, and some predictions on the future. I was invited four years ago as well, on the same subject of course. I don’t quite remember what the question were at the time, but I bet they also were around how to work in this industry, what kind of diplomas to have, what is expected and so on.
For developers as for any other jobs, diplomas are only a safety for the employer on the skills possessed by the person (and not even so in some cases). Its an assurance you won’t have to train the person in the basic knowledge in his field. But that’s only the first screening done when looking at a resume. If the diploma or the school is well-known, its a plus, of course. The second point for me is about the personal projects, done within the school or with friends. It shows the motivation and the interest around development, working in a team… It needs to be presented online and not just lines on the resume itself, where many things can be affirmed without proof. Then I look at the interest for video games : what kind of games does the person play, how often. It’s essential in a creative industry to be attracted by what you are working on. I had one student during this visit that was willing to develop video games but declared himself to not being a gamer – a rare situation ! Finally, the important criteria is personality, measured during an interview. When you reach this step, it already means you made the cut above 15 or 20 other resumes, so be prepared – and relaxed at the same time, a difficult paradox 🙂
As during my previous visit, many students were interested in the subject. Before the conference itself, there was a short informal talk in a classroom, and it was packed with probably 50 of them. It’s easy to attract interest with video games.
This discussion, as well as the conference itself on video games, was shared with an independent web developer, who worked one year on a personal video game project. It’s very hard working independent, and alone, on a project like that. I also measured again how well informed you get to be when you work in a large company, with many information newsletter on the state of the market, on technologies, cinema, etc. I hope the rss page I made with the sources used in these newsletters will keep me on par. More probably, I will drown in too many data 🙂
Another thing during this trip occured to me, it’s the differences in my life that happened in just four years. Early 2010, I was just married from october 2009, the trip to the conference was embedded in a holiday in the region, we were living in Paris and probably starting to discuss buying an appartment at the time (we bought one a year later), Heroes Kingdoms had been published in France a few months before after three years of work, and even with mixed results we were preparing to push to other markets, the team also was starting to work on another free to play project, and I still had a good, available manager. On the other hand, I also just entered a deal which proved to be a terrible investment :p And all in all, I was four years younger 🙂
These changes, and how life can evolve quickly, wether you want it or not, are a cornerstone of this trip and this blog, and I’ll certainly come back to this experience.