Seize Any Opportunity to Apply Your Craft
Last Friday I attended a gathering of The Los Angeles Film School’s Program Advisory Committees. As a member of the Game Production Department’s PAC, I had been called in for a presentation about the school’s recent developments as it was readying to have its accreditation renewed.
During the presentation, we were reminded that the LA Film School was celebrating 14 years in Hollywood, on Sunset Boulevard across the street from the famed Cinerama Dome movie theater. The graduating classes last year were their largest in its history, and the school was inaugurating its Bachelor of Science degree in Entertainment Business.
Of course, I was more interested in developments with the Game Production program. The school offers an Associate of Science Degree in Game Production, with the goal of providing students with a solid foundation for pursuing a career as entry level producers, level designers, QA testers and game designers.
After the presentation, we broke up into smaller meetings between each department’s advisory committee members and faculty members. With the recent news about the widespread layoffs at Zynga’s Los Angeles office, I asked whether graduating students were having any difficulty in finding jobs. As it turns out, Game Production graduates have had no problems getting work at the big local publishers such as Activision and Disney.
However, there aren’t enough jobs at the big publishers for every graduating student, yet all of them have their sites set on working on the next Call of Duty and won’t take any lesser opportunities. Of course, we older folks knew how volatile the game industry is, and that there are many opportunities beyond the developing the types of games that the students tend to play. In fact, there are big opportunities now in gamification for business and training, as well as game-based learning in education.
I reminded the faculty that I had hired two of their graduating students as producers at my last company, a “mom and pop” outfit located in far-flung Rolling Hills Estates that primarily develops marketing-oriented casual games for the AAA publishers, and now they are producing Mickey Mouse and Skylander games.
The advice that I suggested they pass along to their students is that they seize any opportunity to practice their craft, because one never knows where that opportunity will eventually lead them. I got in the industry by working for a “garage operation” when I graduated from college, and now, years later, here I was advising a college on how to produce games.