My Experience at the Games Education Virtual Summit 2021

BTG

TABLE OF CONTENTS

🤔 What was it About?

👾 General Themes

🐘 The (Viral) Elephant in the Room

💼 Remote vs Flexible Working

🎮 Different Ways to Join the Industry

🧙‍♂️ Advice & Support

🤩 Personal Thoughts and Aftermath

🤔 What was it About?

The Games Education Virtual Summit 2021 was a two day virtual event with over 80 organisations coming together to share ideas and thoughts about the future of games industry, industry-academia collaboration, the effects of COVID on the industry and pathways for young people. It was the third time that the summit was organised

👾 General Themes

A general theme that came out throughout the summit was tackling the negative attitudes entrenched in schools and in families about video games. There seemed to be this misconception that a career in video games was not viable (which isn’t the case as you will read later on), and it was clear that it was the responsibility of the industry to change that, through events and reaching out to those institutions. Although the video games industry was in the hot seat just a few years ago because of the notorious “crunching” news headlines, that issue was being actively challenged and significantly reduced throughout the industry in the UK. There was also a shift in culture, from white-collar bureaucracy to inclusion and finding solutions in an agile manner.

🐘 The (Viral) Elephant in the Room

Let’s talk about the (viral) elephant in the room. Although I was aware that the COVID pandemic had (obviously) affected academia, I didn’t quite realise to what extent it did. Several discussions were had in this regard, such as maintaining morale among students and educators, and the quality of education received due to the lockdown restrictions in academia. Therefore, the industry needed to be aware that recent video games graduates may not have the same skillsets as previous cohorts, and thus needed to find ways to help them join the industry, be it through internships, apprenticeships or internal academies set up within studios.

💼 Remote vs Flexible Working

Remote and flexible working (and they are different), had very clearly also brought with it a new set of challenges and opportunities for seasoned professionals and those who had joined the industry last year. For example, a new recruit described how she was struggling to speak and network with other departments at work, since she was working from home.

🎮 Different Ways to Join the Industry

The most refreshing part of the summit was simply listening to the completely different ways that everyone joined the industry. While one person shifted from pharmaceutical communications in a previous role to marketing communications for a games studio, others were pursuing the recent games apprenticeship schemes approved in the UK, and yet others simply made games and showed their passion and were noticed by the industry. Of course, traditional routes such as getting a university degree was still quite popular.

🧙‍♂️ Advice & Support

Several people with various levels of experience provided some advice for those looking to join the industry. This included, being clear about the skills you had when applying, finding ways to link past experience to the games industry, showing your willingness to learn through initiative, being confident in your own work even if you were not sure about it, trying new stuff (software, etc..) and not limiting yourself. For game designers, presentation skills was found to be very important. For game programmers, being able to debug, practice with real libraries in Github, and coding in C++ was definitely encouraged.  Networking with people through LinkedIn and Twitter was obviously mentioned. Making, releasing and getting feedback for your game was also an excellent way (probably the best way) to be noticed.

And finally, for those struggling to progress in their video games career, mentorships were abundantly available through various organisations such as Limit Break, Into Games, Access: VFX, and several others. Mentorships were a process where both parties needed to have a genuine desire to do the work. It was also clear, from the accounts of mentors that joined the panels, that mentoring could actually be beneficial for both mentees and mentors.

🤩 Personal Thoughts and Aftermath

At the end of it all, I left the summit feeling energised, optimistic for the future of the industry, and excited for the next Games Education Summit, scheduled for next year.

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I did not jot down everyone’s names when I was noting down what they were saying, but you can find out the list of speakers by clicking here. Also, I did not note down everything that happened during the summit. If you want to watch the full version, click here.