Hello fellow story grunts, and welcome to my toolkit for finding jobs for storytellers in games. There are a lot of weird titles in games for narrative folk, but this will cover anything hovering around titles like a Writer, Editor, Narrative Designer, Lead Writer, Narrative Director, Quest Designer, Content Designer, and maybe things like Localization gigs too. A lot of this might help for other disciplines, while other bits will be much more specific to game narrative people.
What this is: A resource on how to literally find where these jobs are listed or pop up. Whether that’s an app, a contact, whatever. Time needed: You can spend all day doing this honestly, but at least an hour to collect some gigs.
We’re doing it my way. By that I mean it comes from a US indie-leaning perspective, and someone who does it outside of the main hub of California. So it’s scrappy and assumes that your uncle didn’t go to school with a AAA game exec or something. Whether this works for people outside the US, guess we’ll see.
What this is not: This is not how to get the job. Yes, it’s the first step, but everything after that is more complicated and at least worthy of a different post. However, there will be some notes here and there on the kind of value and context of what you might or might not want to apply to.
Some Last Advice: Please do not use this as an excuse to spam every job ad you run across. There are real people on the ends of all of these things. Send in plenty of apps, absolutely. I would just focus on quality over quantity. If anything, this post should show you that there are actually a ton of game narrative gigs out there. Each time you do this, it’s a good time to evaluate what you actually want from a job and what jobs might find you a good hire. You probably don’t have time to apply to them all in a timely fashion anyway. Unless you’re spamming them. Don’t do that.
Okay. Let’s jump in.
WHERE TO FIND THE DANG GAME WRITING JOBS
1.) THE GREAT BIG INTERNET JORB FINDER
I’m starting with accessible low resource things first. I did not start with a lot of money, a close by game dev community, or anything. I’m from a rural community. The closest established studio was about six hours away. All I really had was the internet. My basic tool for this is opening a bookmark file, all the tabs at once, and then combing through those.
- Download bookmarks folder here. Click the link, and in the open tab select Save Page As (somewhere in your browser settings- CTRL +S if you’re lucky).
- Import the bookmarks: For Firefox, follow these instructions. For Chrome, follow these instructions.
- Open a fresh browser window with no open tabs.
- Find SearchGameWriterJobs: Go into your bookmarks menu, and locate the SearchGameWriterJobsBookmarks folder. It will likely be hiding in the “other bookmarks” folder due to how Firefox exports things. You can manage your folders, so it’s easier to find next time.
- Right click on the SearchGameWriterJobsBookmarks folder. Select “open all in tabs” in the drop down menu.
- Search these many places for those juicy gigs. ( I x out of tabs I’m done searching, and pin the tabs for job leads until I have a good group, then get to applying.)
- Bookmark more places as you find them to search them in future lead searches, and remove those you don’t need.
What you have here is a simple job aggregator. You’ll want to tune yours to your needs. Here’s some notes on how to generally do that.
8/18/20 EDIT: After posting this on Twitter, people have had a few links to add. If this list gets long enough, I’ll update the bookmark itself:
The Indie Database Job Forum
Lemma Soft Job Forum -Good for finding VN work.
A heads up that there is one site here (F95) for finding work in developing adult games, which people have a hard time finding. Remove this bookmark if adult game dev work doesn’t interest you or you’re not of legal age to do so in your region.
Jobs and comments that could become jobs get posted on Twitter all the time. To see them all, you need to search under different kinds of things, which the bookmarks already do for you. Only thing left is to make sure you’re looking under recent, as Twitter tends to sort by popularity by default. Time is an important factor in job leads, but especially Twitter leads, which often get swamped. If the job ad you’re responding to has hundreds of retweets and is a week old, your chances are much slimmer than if the post is pretty fresh. I like to prioritize picking through these first, because otherwise they kind of clutter up the browser. Some people mainly rely on these. Though I’ve gotten some interviews and such, I’ve never gone all the way to getting a job through Twitter, but plenty of my friends who are very active on Twitter have gotten those gigs.
There are also some comics work search tabs, for flavor.
Aggregators/Dedicated Job Forums
These change all the time in the game industry. What you see here is what I use in 2020, but eventually some of these will shut down. At that point you’ll have to find the next thing, which is often linked or discussed in one of these other online places. Otherwise these work how you think they work in quality. If it’s a nice site with established studios, the jobs are well known and are probably hard to get. If the site is more informal (like the subreddits), the jobs vary wildly in what they might be like in every imaginable way and can be easier to get.
Every couple of years or so these tend to migrate to whatever the latest thing is. For now that’s Discord, before that Slack, and before that Facebook Groups (still actually), and before that GoogleGroups for some reason? Anyways, most chat groups have rooms dedicated to job listings and people who might need to hire you in the future. There are too many Discords, but to get you started, here are invites to the handful I usually check.
Check out the GDC Ice Cream Server community on Discord – hang out with 72 other members and enjoy free voice and text chat.
Check out the Indie Game Business community on Discord – hang out with 1,599 other members and enjoy free voice and text chat.
Check out the IGDA SIG Game Writing community on Discord – hang out with 512 other members and enjoy free voice and text chat.
Check out the Narrative House community on Discord – hang out with 250 other members and enjoy free voice and text chat.
The IGDA WSIG
That’s the International Game Developer Association’s Writers Special Interest Group. Find IGDA WSIG on Facebook, Linkedin, and Discord for most of their job lead action.
Crowdfunding/News/Follow the $
Many jobs aren’t advertised directly, and some are made up to work with certain people. If someone is having a successful Kickstarter campaign or just launched their fully funded company, it means 1) they have a fresh healthy budget which can afford something like a narrative folk and 2) They’re going to start spending that on hiring cool people like you pretty soon, if they haven’t started already. Send these places a quality intro e-mail, and it can sometimes develop into a gig.
Just in case it needed to be said, though not bookmarked, each studio/publisher whatever has its own careers page. Look there for the jobbles.
Locality & Customization
One of the advantages you have over everyone else, especially if you don’t live in a huge dev city, is that you may be one of the few local candidates for nearby studios. Most employers are glad to avoid the complications of remote or relocation if they can. Game narrative is still quite a niche area outside of major hubs, and if you’re the one known narrative dev supreme of Unnamed Not Giant Dev City, then you’ll likely be near the front of the line for local narrative roles. Look up and add your local IGDA Chapter’s website, local dev meetups, local game programs, local dev Facebook groups, and leaders/HR/Producers of local studios on Twitter to stay in the know there.
If you have no idea what studios are around you, check out gamedevmap. This link isn’t part of the bookmark import, but feel free to add it.
Lastly, there are a ton of communities dedicated to lots of different intersections of life and identity, and most of these have their own job boards too. See the Trello link’s offered resources for a good start there. BTW, if you’re wondering about the Trello in general, it’s just a great resource.
2. CONVENTIONS/PEOPLE IRL
This is a list of noteworthy gaming conventions from around the world. This list is sectioned by location, and each gaming convention includes the dates during which it is typically held. Dates listed are approximate or traditional time periods for each convention.
Compared to apps, networking events, especially cons, usually come with a greater price tag, but often a greater chance of getting a gig. This is mainly because you will have actually met a person involved with hiring, allowing you to jump the gate of HR. Cons/events can be super expensive, suck at accessibility, and have plenty of other obstacles, but others are quite good at tackling these problems, like GDoC (Game Devs of Color Expo), so do your research. As I’m writing this in the Covid Times, a great number of cons now take place online, making many of the issues moot. I also find that online cons are more willing to give out comp (complimentary) tickets to indies, students, and low-income or underemployed devs. Sometimes this is explicit, other times it’s harder to find, and then other times the only way to do it is to contact an event organizer and ask.
Etiquette at cons is beyond the scope of this article, but I suggest these Pixelles Guides as an excellent starting resource.
Job leads at cons are not entirely straight forward, but here’s how it usually works:
There’s an official meeting/job connector.
There’s usually a generalized business to business platform where devs, publishers, loc studios, esports teams, and anyone else who wants to can set up a profile and start sending meeting requests. A popular one for the current digital con trend is MeetToMatch. I suggest messaging anyone who seems like they focus on or could need narrative help. Most of the time they’re not set up especially for those seeking jobs, and, when using a filter tool to find profiles, you might be considered “outsourcing” or something. However with some luck, you might be the only narrative who bothered to even to participate in this janky system, as it is often lesser known/relied on, and plenty people prefer more classic networking situations like parties.
Of note, many events have special job things that don’t exactly fit into a category to keep an eye out for. For instance, GDC 2019 had a physical job board area where devs left their info, job leads, and so on.
One of the reasons devs do talks is to secure their next job. You prove you know what you’re doing in front of a crowd of peers, look smart and cool, and there’s an elevated chance someone will ask if you’re currently available for their cool thing. These talks get recorded and sent around, and so can have a multiplying factor. Speakers also often get free admission and access to rooms where the other speakers gather, which can be a pretty influential crowd that might have plenty of job leads to share, given lots are already saddled with fulltime gigs.
Networking of course is a simple word for a more complicated thing, but just in case it needed to be said, who you know can greatly determine what you hear about, when you hear about it, and whether you’re already basically a shoe in. I wish this weren’t true for so many different reasons, but it is. I’ve gotten jobs basically every way you can imagine, but hands down the only times it’s not required a great deal of back and forth, it was because the wheels were greased from having met someone at least once in the past.
Events are also a good place to turn your online networking into job leads. Sometimes tweets announcing you’re open to meet at an event, can turn into meetings about you and whether you’re open to cool job thing.
Bigger cons often have many side events and parties occurring simultaneously. Some of them will be sponsored raves and other highly social and questionable things, while others will be studio hosted fancy mixer things thrown specifically so studio leads can meet and scout new hires. Getting into these can be weird and exclusive, but they can be a major leg up. HR is sometimes actually at these events, and that is the main gate keeper you need to get past my friends.
Large events will have a hashtag on Twitter like #GDC. Even if you don’t attend the con, you can benefit from the raw hiring energy by keeping an eye on relative hashtags for job leads. Many will expect to find you in the con tho, come to their booth, a bar, whatever, so heads up on that.
I want to note that small events can be way more important in hiring than large events. Smaller local events are where you can meet people and form deeper longer connections with devs. These are the devs down the line who may or may not have the job for you, but work alongside you or suggest you or at the larger event introduce you to someone you may have never met otherwise. Something I suggest you do when you’ve been involved a while is take someone who is new and struggling at an event, and take them around to introduce them to some people you know. Stuff is hard, but it doesn’t always have to be.
THE END. Let me know on Twitter if this helped you get a gig and/or if you need clarifications. Good luck out there my frands!