Game Republic

networking event with developers showing their games

How to build a career in games development

Graduating and looking for that first step into game development? Get advice from leading lights in the gaming industry on how to get started.

Game Republic asked leading lights in the games industry their advice for getting started in games, from starting your own business, or securing that first job. Here is what they had to say.. (and if you find it useful and you can afford it, please donate the price of a cup of coffee or more to our chosen Charity Partner of the year Special Effect).

Publish your own indie game

Noirin Carmody- Revolution Software in York – the studio behind Broken Sword and Beyond A Steel Sky knows a lot about getting a game published and now it is both easier and more challenging. “So much has changed since we started with different tech and so many publishers. Free to download games makes it a challenging space as it becomes difficult to get noticed. Some would argue it is easier as you can self-publish your game on any platform easily, but the market is crowded. For those starting out my advice is, produce a demo, attend Game Republic and other events where you will meet other games creators and platform owners.”

For Adam Clewes-Boyne, BetaJester started his own studio straight after graduating and one of his best tips is centred on learning as much as you can “The games industry trades in knowledge and experience more than anything else. Ask questions, learn from your peers as well as your managers, make the simplest version and ask for feedback. Everyone wants you to succeed, so give them the opportunity to help you by making your work as visible and informed as possible.”

Simon Barratt of Cooperative Innovations has managed his own companies for years. He shares his top five tips to getting started whether in a career or starting your own company

“1. Stay curious and continually strive for learning; the industry is always evolving, and keeping abreast of the latest developments is key to staying relevant.

2. Network diligently within the industry; relationships can often lead to unexpected and rewarding opportunities.

3. Be resilient; the gaming industry is competitive and can be challenging, but persistence often reaps rewards.

4. Broaden your horizons by playing a wide range of games, or at the very least, watch videos of them being played. Don’t limit your learning to a specific genre or type.

5. Seek inspiration from other sectors; explore design, user experience, and techniques used outside of gaming. This can provide a fresh perspective and innovative ideas that can be applied in the games sector.”

Networking has been a key theme in all our interviews, and it’s why Game Republic and GaMaYo were set up to support people to learn from each other and make connections.

Networking can help you build your games career

Photo of Nina Cliff
Nina Cliff leads business development for Sumo Group and has won awards for her work

Nina Cliff who is a multi-award winning business development lead for Sumo Group believes networking is the critical part of building your games career – “My advice would be to build your network. I genuinely believe that a strong network of friends, colleagues, peers and mentors will create a support foundation that will see you through your career and life no matter your discipline, experience or aspiration. It doesn’t have to be as extensive as building a network for business development is, but you can find a network in your own way.

Plus, there are so many great networking events to get involved with, like Game Republic, GaMaYo and Game Bridge. But it doesn’t even have to be in person anymore, there are so many communities and networks you can find online if that suits you more. It’s never been easier to grow your network and meet like-minded people who have similar life experience or goals as you.” Elaine Dowman from Barclays Games and Creative agrees “My top tip is to get out to events and meet people in the industry. Build your network as there are so many founders who will have great advice from their experience and lots of contacts to help you on your journey. Also look out for local games groups in your area, like Game Republic and get involved in the local events and initiatives it runs. We at Barclays also run several games industry events and demo days, you can see what’s coming up by visiting:” It might be that you are making networks online, but for Dr Jake Habgood of Sumo Digital, it is much better IRL – he adds “Take every opportunity you can to work IRL alongside your more experienced colleagues. Clearly your own learning and development will benefit from being surrounded by an experienced development team, but it’s not just about what you can learn directly from them. Simply observing other disciplines performing their roles is hugely insightful, and you’ll gain new respect, understanding and tolerance just from being around people with different world views from your own. Real life is a naturally moderating experience and a healthy counterbalance to the echo chambers of the internet!  People are just a lot more layered and interesting in real life too.”

Networking in the region could not be easier as there are lots of free events to attend. Leeds Games Toast meets monthly and Jamie Sefton MD of Game Republic explains “get to free events as much as you can. Yorkshire Games Festival gets you out there, and if you make games in Yorkshire and The North you can join GaMaYo and that means access to two free events a year where you can meet with games studios, fellow developers, publishers and platform-holders and also get an opportunity to demo your game for feedback and more.” If you are making games, visit to get details on how to sign up.

Dr Jackie Mulligan, co-director of Game Republic adds “Make sure you use free online networks like LinkedIn. Make sure you keep your profile up to date and show you are looking for work and evidence of your achievements there. It is easy to do and games companies are on business networks so are more likely to notice you if you have an updated profile and are engaged in conversations about the industry.”


It can be useful to think of the videogames sector as an ecosystem, where there are some big players, as well as many, many, smaller teams, creatives, organisations etc who are all contributing together to make up the big picture – John O’Shea, Co-CEO of the Videogames Museum

Being a game developer means being resilient

Tenacity and resilience are common themes in how are leading lights believe you can succeed. Head of Thunkd Andrew Crawshaw explains “Perseverance. If you leave Uni looking for that dream job, don’t just stick with the portfolio you have, keep on learning. Don’t worry about the knock backs just keep going.” Simon Iwaniszak of Red Kite Games agrees “Making games is hard. Whichever discipline you’re in be it programming, art, design, etc. they all take dedication, talent and skill. I can’t overstate how important it is to be resilient and persevere. Getting your dream job can take time. I now employ and have employed plenty of people who didn’t find their ‘games industry home’ straight away. Keep refining your craft and stick with it!” On similar lines, Neil Parmar of Escape Technology urges those seeking a career in games “Never give up! If you have a great idea, seek advice and help. I met Bruce, founder of Radical Forge when he was a one-man band at University. He had so much talent. Now his studio employs more than 80 people. Never give up on the dream!”

Show your passion for games if you want a job in the games industry

A big part of succeeding is following your passion and enjoying it too. Lewis Silkin’s Laura Harper believes that is why companies need to look after themselves and be mindful of how dynamic the environment can be. She explains “Enjoy what you do. Look after your people, not least as it is such a dynamic environment for talent.” And for Bobby Thandi of XR Games, he thinks it is critical to understand it is “a passion industry, and for most people, it’s been something that they have held a real affection for from an early age. Over three billion people play video games around the world and a lot of those people want to get into the games industry, meaning that there is intense competition for every single role.

When you’re starting out in the industry, I would ensure that whichever discipline you choose to do – whether it’s programming, art, animation, QA or production, you do a university course based within that respective field. While you’re studying, utilise your free time effectively; work on your own game or create collaboratively with friends and get as much work experience as possible. This means that when you get an interview with a game studio – ahead of your talent and education – they want to see what your portfolio looks like. Invest your time into making yours stand out amongst the crowd.” Kimberley Turner of Double Eleven believes it is the ability to show your passion that is crucial “If you want to work in games, you don’t need a specific diploma but it’s important you find a way to show your passion and skills. Having a portfolio of your creations (even if only personal projects) is a great way to do just that. Taking part in a game jam is a big plus if that’s relevant to your desired role. Also don’t forget to show that you’re keeping up with the latest tools, trends, etc. This is a competitive industry and this will give you an edge.”

Bobby Thandi wearing virtual headset
Bobby Thandi heads up XR Games and recently was the face of the UK games industry in a trade mission to GDC

Get the right skills to secure a job in games

Stephen Hey of Radical Forge believes that showing you can learn new things and persist at tasks is really important adding “It’s hard to get in, but so is any creative sector. So be resilient and persevere. But be confident in what you are capable of and in what you bring; your new perspectives could create something unique. Questioning everything and everyone, we all have opinions, and that life experience is essential, but also is trying something new, experimenting with genres, art styles, and game design conventions.” Nick Streeter who heads up fundraising for videogames charity SpecialEffect believes that skills can be acquired by learning and asking questions “Even the most senior people are friendly and approachable, just ask them about their story and learn.” Jo Quinton-Tulloch, head of the National Science and Media Museum believes that whilst technical skills are important, there are other skills that are highly valued in the sector “your attitude, personality and soft/smart skills can be just as important as your technical knowledge and specialist skills. Studios are looking to build supportive, collaborative and friendly working environments, so it is vital for early career professionals to demonstrate a positive attitude and an eagerness to learn.” For Noirin Carmody at Revolution Software, programming is a good thing to learn too “Learn to code, even if your work is design, writing, programming is a core skill.”

“Never give up! If you have a great idea, seek advice and help. I met Bruce, founder of Radical Forge when he was a one-man band at University. He had so much talent. Now his studio employs more than 80 people. Never give up on the dream!” Neil Parmar – Escape Technology

Start your games career for the right reasons

John Sanderson, head of PitStop Productions got into the games industry through music. His company now employs over 80 people providing the audio for many global titles. He advises “Be sure this is what you want to do for the right reasons. Choose the industry before it chooses you. To succeed in the games industry, you need to have a genuine fascination with it, to enjoy the process and to be motivated by it. You need to genuinely want to be part of a process of change, to love that things evolve and the fact that things change.” That authenticity also comes out strongly in the advice from John O’Shea, Co-CEO of the National Videogame Museum “Listen to the quieter voices as well as the loud ones. It can be useful to think of the videogames sector as an ecosystem, where there are some big players, as well as many, many, smaller teams, creatives, organisations etc who are all contributing together to make up the big picture. “Find your own tribe”, rather than simply trying to “fit in”. (It is important to see where your own skills and experiences could fit, and work on what feels right for you. There isn’t one path and its a hugely diverse sector with a massive variety of roles and creative identities.) Be yourself, and move towards the things you find exciting. (In any young industry there are always new trends and tools emerging, so work hard and follow your instincts.)”

Jo Quinton-Tulloch photo
Jo Quinton-Tulloch heads up the National Science and Media Museum and leads the Yorkshire Games Festival

Going beyond games – building a long career and looking after yourself too…

For John Rose-Adams at XR Stories it is important to realise games development skills can be used in many different sectors too.  He explains “There is interesting stuff happening that you might not recognise as part of games in all sectors. There are valuable skills that are sought after in games, film, TV and general enterprise – so it is about visualising the opportunities for games and beyond games when you develop skills in the sector.” If you are in the games industry and passionate about it all, Rosie Taylor from Safe In Our World advises a little caution  “Don’t forget, a job in the games industry is still a job. We see so many people run themselves into the ground to thrive in their dream job and prove themselves worthy to work in such a fun industry. If there is one thing to really take note of from this interview, it’s this: you don’t need to burn out to prove worthy of your place here. You are in this industry for a reason. Your life is not your job and finding joy and peace outside of your work is so important.”

Next steps for your games career

There is a lot of support to help get you started in your games career, not least from Game Republic Educational Partners – and we hope you have found these tips useful. If you are making games in Yorkshire and The North, you could join Game Republic and attend monthly events or our FREE network for developers GaMaYo which meets up twice a year. Keep looking for courses and workshops that can help you too. We have regular updates on things that are happening to support you, so bookmark this website and follow us on our socials (Twitter and LinkedIn – @Game Republic and Threads on @GameRepublicUK) and if you are making games in Yorkshire and The North – apply to join GaMaYo here 
Good luck in pursuing your games career. If you found this article useful and you can afford it, please donate the price of a cup of coffee or more to our chosen Charity Partner of the year Special Effect




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