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Office Hours: I’m a Sr. Recruiter for game studios, XR companies, and esports at ggLocators. I’m Cami Smith. AMA!Featured

Hi Elphas!

I’m a recruiter at ggLocators, a highly specialized contract staffing and executive search firm focused on sourcing and placing top talent in the video game, XR, esports operations, and corporate gamification space.

I have been helping creative people get jobs in the game and entertainment space for over a decade. I worked at game development and entertainment related colleges helping grads get ready for their first jobs in the industry.

During my downtime, I enjoy cycling (my husband and I have a tandem – we have cycled from Portland to Vancouver BC and many of the islands in between) I am also a mixed media artist when I have the time. Usually have a sketchbook with me everywhere I go. I have a side hustle. I am a media manager and contributing editor for Fiber Art Now magazine - oh… and I have a standard poodle puppy that needs lots of love and exercise.

Ask me anything about recruiting in the gaming industry, games education, women in games, my journey, or anything else! If you have any tips on training standard poodle puppies I am open to any advice!

Thanks so much for joining us @camismith!Elphas – please ask @camismith your questions before Friday, May 12th. @camismith may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hey Cami! Thanks so much for holding this week's office hours 🙌 So cool that you're such a creative both personally (as a mixed media artist and media manager) and professionally!How difficult is it for people to break into the gaming industry? Would you say it's a more competitive industry (like the entertainment and music industry)?And is it easier or harder to get into as a new grad or as professional coming from a different industry/background?
@MichelleFuentes This year with all the layoffs, might be extra hard to get started with a job in games. You need to have a strong portfolio, or have the right software knowledge to get in the door. It can be very competitive. It is a lot like music and film. My suggestion is find a job that you want. Look at the skills they are asking for. That is your road map. Keep a photo of that job in front of you and check off the boxes as you feel you have accomplished them. In the mean time, go to game meetups, and begin to build a community. People will help people that they know and trust. I find that is a great way to get a foot in the door. Looking for game studios in your world? Go to GameDevMap.com Once you find a studio that you like, go check them out on Linkedin. Then once you are there, go to the people at that studio. Find the ones that are doing the jobs that you are interested in. Reach out and do information interviews. Or share your portfolio or resume and say " What can I be adding to my resume to make me a strong candidate for a studio like yours" Sometimes they answer, sometimes they don't. BUT it is a start. I am always happy to hop on a video chat if you want to explore more.
Hi Cami, it's wonderful to have you here thank you for your time! As someone who knows close to nothing in terms of games I would love to know how you got into gaming? Additionally what type of roles do you place (technical eg game developer? or non technical eg standard BD, sales etc) If so what types of requirements do you see companies have today?Also we have members in gaming or at least with an interest in it such as @amberdunnmba , @SarahE @LilyGross @kristinhwang who was looking to transition into gaming, @lewisalexys @agmccord @ancaen @AriaNoyed (who may need to be placed somewhere :)) @jennaspangenberg @Xiange who is deeply rooted in the industry, @caralageson @christien or @melinadelgado for whom gaming is a hobby, @LaverneEubanks @chiaracoetzee @emilythompson @daryasesitskaya4
@iynna Thank you for that question. To be honest, I am not a gamer. I just love the people in the game community. They are creative, passionate, problemsolvers. The care about color, sound, and stories. It is generally a community that supports each other. I do have an Oculus Quest. Playing VR games was great during the pandemic. I work with alll the people that make up a game studio. Developers, marketing, artists, designers, producers, anylsts, you name it. Right now the game industry, like the tech industry is experience a lot of layoffs. The cream of the crop has been laid off this year. It is very hard to transition from one industry to the game industry this year. There are more candidates than there are jobs. My suggestion is always to keep learning new programs, and build up your portfolio while you have time. Learn Unreal Engine, join game jams, make friends. Become a master at some technical ablity. I am always happy to hop on a video chat to share resources and talk with devs. [email protected] If any of you live in Seattle, next week is is a good conference and a games job fair. I have some free tickets if anyone is interested. Send me an email. :)
Hi Cami! I have a question a question on behalf of my partner (hope that's ok!)... he has been a frontend web / app developer for 15+ years and a couple years as UI / UX designer and wants to transition industries and get into to game design. So he obviously doesn't have direct experience designing UI / UX for games, but a ton of interface development and some design. My question is, are game studios generally open to hiring a UX designer / developer, with no direct game experience? And if they are, would they consider the individual entry level or junior because of lack of industry experience? Or would they be considered intermediate because of their background in other design and development?
@amyfink I am happy to talk with your partner. Maybe I can hear more details and share some suggestions or resources. Have them email me at [email protected]
Hello Cami, you have a fascinating background and thank you for spending time with us.For someone looking to pivot into gaming what should be their first course of action to be competitive and successful in their recruiting journey?
@tillieschneiderman @Tillie207 That is a complicated question. I would have to see what skills and jobs are in someones background to give some solid suggestions. I can say one thing, if you want to get in the game industry, make games. Game Jams are a great place to start. That way you can meet people, learn the pipeline, and have fun at the same time. There are lots of places to find game jams. Itch.io , Global Game Jam, https://globalgamejam.org/ , ATXGamemakers.com - there are lot of good places to connect with the industry. Hope that helps. Always happy to hop on a video chat if you want to explore this industry. I must say, the job market is very slim right now.
Hi Cami - My daughter just graduated from HS this year and she LOVES to game and create worlds. She is a very talented writer (usually complex fantasy) and had an amazing mind for structuring data (creating genealogies etc) - I mentioned to her that she should look at studying game design but it looks like many of the courses are more geared to technical VR or coding vs the storytelling/creating aspect. Any suggestions re: programs or inroads into this space or whether you know of any companies that offer internships/apprenticeships where she could get a taste for things without spending silly money on the university path. She has just moved to Canada (Calgary) but has the option to study in NZ or the UK as well. Any insight would be great!!
@claudialamb Hi Claudia, I am happy to hop on a call with her and help give her some suggestions. Feel free to email me [email protected] It is probably easier to talk on a video chat than try to write it all out. Thank you,Cami
Hi Cami! Thanks for doing this :) What are the trends around remote work for game studios right now? Are companies opening up for remote workers? Is it different for different roles?
@josefina Thanks for that great question! We are surprised to be seeing so many studios wanting to get their employees back in person. We have a lot of people that still want to work remotely. I thought we had all decided that tech people very capable to work remotely but I am hearing from studios that they think that productivity has gone down. Personally, I find this troubling. I feel like a little less pressure is a good thing. Treating employees well will help them be more productive in the long run. We have all been through so much in the past few years. Let's let some of the steam off before we push everyone back in. What are your thoughts on this topic?
+1 @camismith - I find it troubling to see so many companies pushing for in-office work without acknowledging that the way we worked from 2020-2022/3 illuminated the idea of flexibility and a balance between work and life (family obligations, mental and physical health, etc) which can actually be good for employee retention and productivity. Right now it feels like this RTO push is driven by executive preferences, rather than a significant trend in studies on employee retention, company culture, and recruiting (tho if anyone has research to share I'd love to see it!)
I think that a big thing that many companies, and society as a whole is overlooking in making such a drastic push to keeping the strictly wfh model that was necessiated as a result of a global pandemic are the detrimental effects it has had on our behavioral health, specifically those that are neurodiverse. For example, there are an estimated 11M adults diagnosed with ADHD in the u.s. (4.4%). This does not include the estimated 16% that are undiagnosed. The much needed structure and mental stimulation that an office/on-site/in person work environment tends to provide is desperately needed. And although I personally love the concept and idea of wfh forever, I would rather be "required" or expected at the office regularly for the sake of my mental health and also for the future of our youths social development.I believe as a whole, we should be more focused on a compromise that promotes an equitable and inclusive hybrid model in support of employee diversity.
Hi Cami! I'm curious about the mapping between product development and game development. Do you commonly encounter people interested in moving from product design to game design? What is that process like? What differs between the two professions, and how do the typical skills of a product designer translate to those required of a game designer?
Neato -- I see a lot of eSports activity surrounding League of Legends, maybe a bit of Overwatch -- what other games are you seeing get big in the esports industry?(I rarely see Splatoon, but since it's only on Switch, I get it).
I would also put Valorant, Apex Legends, and Rocket League up there. A lot of teams have squads for those as well, and I known some women's esports orgs doing comps in those titles
@julialxu Yes they are extremely poplular. I love the energy and passion that goes into these games. I was able to attend Dota one time when they were here in Seattle. It was amazing.
@MorganLucas Surprisingly, I am not seeing a lot from the esports side of things. As a recruiter, over the last year, we have not had as much contact with esports studios. I do see that colleges have taken this on and started their own teams. Do you play competitively?
I don't, but I do enjoy watching pro/competitive Splatoon players.
Do you watch on Twitch?
No, mostly YouTube replays. Sometimes the official Nintendo channels will repost tournaments, some uploads from folks like Squid School and ProChara.
Hello Cami :) If you have any experience recruiting for smaller indie studios (let's say less than 20 employees), what tends to be the difference in the recruiting process to that of a large AAA studio? Do the two types of studios generally look for different kinds of people with different profiles? If so, what are those differences?
@Shenna20 We recruit for all types of studios. AAA to Indie. We see people who really want to work at the big name studios,Riot, Activision, Bungie, etc. But if you go and look at GameDevMap.com you will see there are thousands of studios that you never heard. of. Seattle alone has 200plus. Right now most studios are looking for gameplay, AI, or UI engineers that are working in Unreal Engine. Technical and VFX artists are also highly sought after. Studios big and small are looking for those types of candidates. The process is the same. Also, right now, May 2023, studios are still laying off and barely hiring. I have never seen so many places put a pause on hiring. Some of the cream of the crop have been laid off. I have hopes that there will give birth to some new startups. The gamification of healthcare, education, simulation, and more is just part of our world now. I am not sure I actually answered your question.... so hit me up again if I can narrow my response down a bit!