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Old 11-24-2012, 09:20 PM   #1
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What is a career in the games industry like as an artist?

As the title says...

I want first-hand knowledge from people who actually work within the industry. I'm trying to build up my own picture of a career as a games artist, to weigh up the pros and cons, to be able to make a more educated decision if it is really something I want to dedicate my future to. There is a lot of contradiciting information on the internet so I can't really make an accurate assumption. There are a lot of questions here, and I don't expect anybody to answer them all, but I guess this is sort of like a personal survey, so answer what you can.

Mainly I want to know about the hours. I hear tons of stories about games industry workers having to more or less dedicate their whole existence into meeting deadlines and working tons of unpaid overtime for up to a year or more in advance of the deadline. Is this true or is this exaggerated? Do you live to work, as oppose to work to live? Can you give me a general picture on the overtime? What are the typical working hours?

In terms of actual work content, what do you actually have to do? On average, how much time does it take for you to do these jobs? I've read about how as a 3D modeller for example you may spend a significantly long period of time working on lamposts or other some-what minor items, whilst others are hired to do other items and so forth. Do you have to do a lot of sketchbook work? What is the balance like between creativity and technical skills?

In terms of salary (unsure if this goes against the forum rules, so I'll try and make it more vague), do you think it justifies the financial and time cost of education as well as the amount of time, effort and stress which the job entails?

In terms of perks/benefits, are they any different to other jobs? For example, seeing some tours of video game company studios, they do tend to at least look rather enjoyable environment to work in, and some have drawing classes, or sports groups or what not. Is that common, or is that just the AAA type studios?

On another note, how does working in the industry affect your free time or lifestyle? When you get home after a day's work (if you get home!) are you no longer interested in gaming? Do you feel relaxed and free from work when you're away from the studio, or do you constantly feel stressed? Do you ever do extra work at home?

I guess overall, I'm really looking for a sum up of the costs and benefits of working in the industry.

Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to answer.
 
Old 11-26-2012, 03:45 PM   #2
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Those are very well considered questions. While I can't answer them, I look forward to reading replies from those who can.
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Old 11-26-2012, 03:54 PM   #3
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I've been in the games industry for nearly 15 years now. I've worked for a lot of different companies and I can tell you it's very very hard work. Lots of overtime and weekend work. However it's the greatest job on the planet - there's nothing better than standing in the pub and overhearing people you don't know, talking about that project you've busted your balls on for the last few years.

Benefits vary depending on the company and success of the project and also on experience.

Workplace wise, I've always had an absolute blast everywhere I've worked - if you like games then working in a games company is usually good fun because you're with like-minded people.

In a nutshell working in games is great fun (although when youre on the final stretch it can be very stressful and tiring), but you get out what you put in - if you work hard and put the effort in, then this will eventually get recongnised. If you dont put much work in then you won't get much out of it.
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Old 11-26-2012, 06:43 PM   #4
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Hours: 0 to 18 hours a day
Pay: $0 to $150,000/year
Perqs: Free pen w/company name to flying you & your family to Maui for a week.
Free time: Lots of it to none of it.

That about covers it all, I think.
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Old 11-26-2012, 07:35 PM   #5
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10 years in, I've done a bit of almost everything - mostly animation, but some rigging and scripting when needed (as in, we needed it but the decision-makers didn't want to be bothered with it). On of one my recent projects, I got a chance to model several characters, creatures, and a few props... *Some complex enough for tv, while others were simple 2D cut-outs.

The work can be a lot of fun, but that fun is balanced out with a lot of time consuming, hair-pulling frustration, at different points. *Some jobs might work you like a horse for a couple years with crap pay, while other jobs may pay much better while working you like a sloth for a couple of months. *Still, the only way to know for sure what it's like, is to find out first-hand.
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Old 11-26-2012, 07:45 PM   #6
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As little comfort as it may be, I feel like Artbot hit the nail on the head here. It really depends on your specific studio and things can vary wildly from one studio to the next.
 
Old 11-26-2012, 08:23 PM   #7
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Sounds about right - and that's probably the reason for the OP's confusion when reading about contradicting information on the internet.

I think this calls for multiple pie charts to show the ratios of where most people end up in the spectrum, relative to years of experience in the industry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Artbot
Hours: 0 to 18 hours a day
Pay: $0 to $150,000/year
Perqs: Free pen w/company name to flying you & your family to Maui for a week.
Free time: Lots of it to none of it.

That about covers it all, I think.
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colesslaw
I think this calls for multiple pie charts to show the ratios of where most people end up in the spectrum, relative to years of experience in the industry.


Ideally, yes, but where are you going to get all that info? A few people posting in a thread like this is anecdotal at best, and completely unrepresentative at worst. The question - and answers - are just too big. It's like asking "I want to be an engineer at NASA. What is the job/pay ranges/perqs/hours like?"

If the OP did a thorough search of the GD section of this site, they would find many such discussions have already occurred. But I contend they are still only anecdotal and are not accurate cross sections of the industry. I also find it sad that for all the people who say they are interested in vfx/games and are ready to work hard, they often fail to do the simplest research in order to answer their basic questions.
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Old 11-27-2012, 07:29 AM   #9
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I worked in games for 3 years full-time (more or less). The hardest time have programmers, concept designers, then animators. Because their work is the most challenging. Texture and modeling artists have a pretty peaceful working atmosphere. It relates to changes being made later.
As I also worked in some other 3d-fields, I'd say making modeling and texturing for games is a pretty calm area, as projects have a long lifespan, so if you have enough experience, you should be fine. Try archviz, or viz, to see the difference, if you think games are challenging. But again, it all may differ in different companies. Ironically, top gaming companies in Ukraine have overtime problems, which is very strange. Bad management always wants to squeeze more from you. Good management creates a cozy atmosphere, so you are more productive.
One thing for sure: you will be sitting in front of the computer, and people will see you as "that dude sitting there". And sometimes you may read what a casual 12-old gamer thinks about your textures or modeling. Still, a decent job, it pays, it makes money to your bosses, a bit goes to you...
 
Old 11-29-2012, 05:40 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Artbot
If the OP did a thorough search of the GD section of this site, they would find many such discussions have already occurred. But I contend they are still only anecdotal and are not accurate cross sections of the industry. I also find it sad that for all the people who say they are interested in vfx/games and are ready to work hard, they often fail to do the simplest research in order to answer their basic questions.


Its also anecdotal that you seem to roam all the threads of newbies asking legitimate "first timer" questions and instead of helping you waste the same amount of characters/time bashing and flaming. It also doesn't show the team spirit necessary for vfx/games eh?
 
Old 11-29-2012, 06:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethervoid
Its also anecdotal that you seem to roam all the threads of newbies asking legitimate "first timer" questions and instead of helping you waste the same amount of characters/time bashing and flaming. It also doesn't show the team spirit necessary for vfx/games eh?


It is, indeed, anecdotal. My answer was at least truthful.

And I don't see you offering any advice on the OP's one and only post. Perhaps his questions were not broad enough for you?
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Old 11-29-2012, 07:41 AM   #12
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Just wanted to edit this. And wanted to say,.. there is a lot bring out of the game industry. How it works, publishing, working with programmers, .etc..
Use it.

Last edited by refract : 12-01-2012 at 08:48 AM.
 
Old 11-29-2012, 09:02 AM   #13
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i from asia, been 5 years game and 4 years cinematic/animation
my job
from outside viewer
1- i work 10-12 hour a day/ no overtime pay
2 - the industries always want something new, bos always ask me to perform magical show
- always finding a solution (i got a lot white hair )
3 - bos will yield ( no excuse, must do)
4 - no pretty female in my studio, all tired face male.
5 - lack of respect, lack of social , lack of attitude

from my view
1 - 2 days assignment done 12 hour , tomorrow have extra time
2 - another breakthrough fot myself
3 - k, more collectable portfolio
4 - we respect each other coz we understand our job is take time
5 - i gain my heart trust, me & my heart become 1

sorry for my bad english
 
Old 11-29-2012, 12:49 PM   #14
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Really enjoyed reading this post. It's great to get an insight into an industry I am so heavily interested in and to hear honest opinions and thoughts. Although we all wish it was easy to get a job all of the time, that doesn't always happen and that has to be in your mind when you enter a profession like this (and many others!)
 
Old 12-08-2012, 06:35 PM   #15
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I wanna try this

Can you give me a general picture on the overtime? What are the typical working hours? This is easy, you will spend as much or as little time as necessary to complete your task. You will have to deal with your own critical nature, that of the client and that of the changing nature of the project. You may a year when you start the project but that will change quickly as the budget changes, both the client and your companies. You are the worker, your job will be to just make it happen, they usually don't care how just when and that is now or even yesterday. Pay is dependent upon what you agreed upon when being hired in.

In terms of actual work content, what do you actually have to do?
I defer this answer to parts of the first question. You will spend as much or as little time as is required to complete your task divided by how much your client/boss keeps reducing your time. You may spend 10 minutes developing a background object or you could be responsible for the main object of the scene / story. More main objects will require more time. The amount you do depends upon your ability, the number of people working on the project and the number of people doing what your doing.

In terms of salary ....Stop right here.
Don't every do something you love for money, it becomes a job when you do and then the joy can disappear.

In terms of perks/benefits, are they any different to other jobs? For example, seeing some tours of video game company studios, they do tend to at least look rather enjoyable environment to work in, and some have drawing classes, or sports groups or what not. Is that common, or is that just the AAA type studios?
This depends on who you work for major studios have more money to provide these perks, the shop down the street doesn't have that big of a budget.

On another note, how does working in the industry affect your free time or lifestyle? When you get home after a day's work (if you get home!) are you no longer interested in gaming? Do you feel relaxed and free from work when you're away from the studio, or do you constantly feel stressed? Do you ever do extra work at home?
Like before I defer this to the first questions answer. It all depends on your ability divided by the shrinking deadline and budget as well as expectations of those making decisions for you. You may spend a few hours working on something or you could have a need to bring in your pillow and realize you have not bathed in days.


There can be no set answer because there is not a one size fits all answer. The creative people here may not be able to give specifics because of disclosure agreements or so many variables that change from day to day and project to project. Rest assured it will be like most jobs when you first start. A whole lot of learning a whole lot of awkwardness and not as much pay. You may get lucky and have great employers and therefore loving your job or you may be like most people with a job and work with people who care about themselves only and that wont inspire much creativity but because you love what you do you will keep trudging along until something better comes along.
The bottom line is the same as with anything, learn as much as you can, be flexible and be the best at what you do.

Watch the movie, I think it's called "The Story of Pixar" it talks about some of these things.

I don't work in the industry, I have a completely unrelated job but your questions can be asked of any job and the answers can be applied to as many jobs.

Good luck.
 
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