I want in the industry, but how should I take the first step?
May 16, 2013 5:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to get a specific job title, but it is a difficult one to find. What is the best course of action to take here?

I have found that I am deeply interested in a specific job title in a specific industry which is a fairly narrow position. There are quite a few open positions for this job title, but they consistently demand experience in that exact job title.

What I speak of is a "Game Monetization Designer" which is based around making video games profitable. The biggest obstacles I have found are that it is particularly difficult to find people with this title that I can speak to in order to become more familiar with the community and make professional connections, the specific nature of the job means that I haven't found any other positions in other fields which would provide more than a little bit of relevant experience, and the demand for experience before obtaining the position.

I would be willing to take a different position if it would be a likely path towards what I want in the long term. I have not found any positions which do not demand experience. I would not be able to take an unpaid internship, but starting off at the low end of a livable wage is quite fine. Statistical analysis and sales research are enjoyable to me in general, but the fast pace of the industry is a very serious attraction, so another position in the gaming industry would be quite fine. I would also be interested in similar work for the casino and gambling industry, given that it is also a relatively fast paced entertainment field.

So really, my question is, what's the best direction to take here? I am having an extraordinarily difficult time making connections, so I'm looking for the next best options. I would have more confidence in most other industries, but this title is so specific and experience demanding that I don't really know where to begin.
posted by Saydur to Work & Money (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas has a website that may offer contacts or insights. I am not affiliated with UNLV. I see they have a conference coming up from May 27-31 at Caesars Palace.
posted by Juniper Toast at 6:17 PM on May 16, 2013

It would help to know more about employment history, your education, and what connections you currently have available to you.

I would start by looking into any alumni associations or fraternity/sorority networks available to you to see if you have an existing connection with someone in the industry. The video game industry is fairly small, so it might be a long shot, but this could be a good first step.
posted by deathpanels at 6:23 PM on May 16, 2013

Since you mention you're comfortable with stats, how about being a Data Scientist for a place like Zynga?
posted by tinymegalo at 6:40 PM on May 16, 2013

The title you're looking for is a cross between game designer and product manager, both of which will have a hand in designing and optimizing monetization mechanics. The latter of the two is focused more on monetization specifically.

Getting started in product management means starting as either a designer or, more commonly, a business analyst with an economics or mathematics background.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:54 PM on May 16, 2013

Response by poster: Right, my current situation. My employment history is mostly in the hospitality industry, namely hotels. This is great for working under pressure and communication, but it isn't particularly strong in the statistics and analysis department. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's in business administration. I am geographically far removed from any viable hub of gaming employment which means I will be moving when I do find employment in the industry. None of my contacts have any connection with either the gaming or casino industries whatsoever.

Starting as a designer appears to have the same difficulty as product management in that I don't have the experience or contacts, nor is my business education specialized for the industry. Working as a business analyst elsewhere for the experience sounds like a start, but would that be something I can reach from where I am?
posted by Saydur at 10:04 PM on May 16, 2013

You know, I would've said to go the project management track like Cool Papa Bell mentioned, but when I googled the title the vast majority of jobs were for systems designers.

In that case, your route to Monetization Designer is... create a portfolio (i.e. work on your own time while you have another job, or go to school for it) -> take any design job you can find (look for level design positions, and look at generalist design roles at small companies) -> gain experience as designer -> angle your way into systems design -> take over the monetization/economy system on a new project/game -> use that experience to get you this title at another company

(I'm a systems designer who does some monetization, so you're welcome to memail me if you want more specific info).

Alternatively, just go straight to the source (which is what I would do):
1. Go to the GDC 2013 sessions list
2. Check only "Business, Marketing, & Management" and "Free to Play Design & Business Summit"
3. Review the lectures for talks related to your interests
4. Google the Speaker(s)
5. See what job titles the speaker(s) have
6. Find out what path you need to take to get that job title by looking at job listings or the speaker(s) bios/resumes
7. (Optional) Email the speaker(s) very nicely and ask for advice. Some will respond. Only do this after you do as much research as you can, and never ask anything that violates their NDA.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 10:23 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Take the risk and move to your market. Decide where you want to work, move near there, hang out at the bars and cafes near there. Apply to work there in any department. Work at a local hotel until the dream job comes through. Offer to do the marketing bit for free for a local non-profit or a new friend starting a new business.
posted by myselfasme at 5:42 AM on May 17, 2013

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