This is a personal journey of how I got into the gaming world.  Instead of just going through my employment history, I’ll share a bit about what lead up to how I landed a job at Curse, and some tips if you’re looking to get a job in gaming or any other industry.

Some of the questions I’ll answer are:

  1. What did you do before joining Curse?  What qualifications did you need to get the job or what did you study in school?
  2. Did you always want to be in gaming? How often did you try to apply or get rejected? Did you get a referral or just apply on your own?
  3. Do you like what you’re doing now? Is it everything you thought it would be or were you disillusioned in any way?

My current background

Virtual reality games at TwitchConI had taken a few programming classes in high school (QBASIC, C++) and when I went to university, I majored in Computer Science.  I eventually switched majors and went to a different university for a variety of reasons but as a hobby, I taught myself PHP/MySQL to run my own websites.  Fast forward to present day and I’m currently a Technical Product Manager (TPM) on the Curse Union for Gamers team at Twitch, one of the biggest live video broadcasting platforms and community for gamers.  Before that, I worked at the corporate headquarters of an apparel & lifestyle company (Urban Outfitters, Inc.) as a Front End Developer, QA Manager, and TPM over the course of 8 years.  I held those different roles mostly within the same team that I helped grow — we went from 2 devs to over 10 devs, plus a couple of Project Managers and QA Analysts.

Working backwards from where I wanted to be

Transitioning myself across different positions within the same company wasn’t a coincidence.  Every once in a while, I would look at internal job listings as well as look externally — I don’t do this aggressively with the intent to quit necessarily, but I’m always curious see what qualifications would be needed for my next move, if I decided I did want to leave.  I recommend doing this kind of occasional casual job search for 3 reasons:

  1. If you’re looking at a role that’s completely different from what you normally do and you’re interested in pivoting, you can see what skills are required for that and work backwards from there.  So basically, if you don’t meet the qualifications for a job you’re looking at yet, you can find ways to learn and apply those skills in your current position (while still focusing on your main objectives at work and bringing value to your current job).  If you don’t mind staying with your current team and you’ve sufficiently mastered a skillset, you can have a candid conversation with your manager if there’s an opportunity for you to move laterally within the team into a different role.
  2. If you’re looking at a similar role as your current one at a different company, you can see if there are any knowledge gaps between what you possess in your current company vs. other companies and bring your skills up-to-date.  For example, you may be used to using Trello or Asana at your current job but now you see that jobs are requiring Project Managers to know JIRA and Confluence.  Or the programming language you learned in school may not be as relevant anymore as the new flavor-of-the-month Javascript framework.  The tech industry is fast-paced and you have to keep learning or you’ll never grow or move up.
  3. If a company decides to make your position redundant, it would have no problem laying you off.  That’s not personal, it’s just business.  It’s why I never feel guilty about trying to have a side hustle or casually looking for jobs — always be prepared for the worst and have a back up plan.  Build up your skills, keep your resume updated, and learn and contribute as much as you can.

Landing a job at Curse

I came across a lot of different jobs I felt I was qualified for, both in and not in the gaming industry.  There weren’t a lot of gaming companies in Philly, but I didn’t mind relocating (afterall, I had a brief stint living in London to work at the Anthropologie UK office).  At the time, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to go into the gaming industry — coming from ecommerce, I felt like that would be jumping out of one frying pan and into another only because you can easily burn out in both fields during crunchtime with long hours, and putting out fires in production.  Furthermore, I enjoyed gaming as a hobby but if I did it full-time, would I hate it?  I mulled that over for awhile but I knew if I wanted to get into the gaming industry, I did have some transferrable skills from my previous roles, and being in the presence of other gamers felt very natural to me.  I applied to a few jobs that were appealing, regardless of the industry, and just focused on jobs I felt I was qualified for.

One piece of advice to those seeking to get into the gaming field (or any field) would be to just build up a skill you’re actually good at and like doing because you can probably apply that at most companies since they need people across a lot of different functions.  You don’t have to be a game designer or developer to get into the gaming industry.  If it’s not a startup, the company will still need plenty of lawyers, HR reps, accounting people, project managers, business analysts, or people from any of those other “shared services” departments that don’t necessarily create the game itself but support the company.

I stumbled across the job description for a TPM at Curse on Linkedin.  What motivated me to apply was that I was very familiar with Curse —  I’d been using Curse for WoW addons since they first came out and used Curse Voice for pugs in battlegrounds and arenas.  While I wasn’t familiar with what an MCN was, I familiarized myself with top YouTubers, pored over every sentence of the job description, and did research on the company’s history — everything else was second nature in that I could easily talk about how I used Curse and have conversations about gaming in general (I was interviewed before they were acquired by Twitch).  The other thing that appealed to me about Curse is that they didn’t actually create games but were a platform that supported gamers — so there wouldn’t be any one game I felt forced to play, then end up hating.

I didn’t have any referrals nor prior experience in the gaming industry but I applied anyway.  I didn’t hear back from a majority of my applications to gaming companies.  The ones that did reach out to me didn’t get past the first interview.  I had a lot more callbacks from ecommerce companies and of those, I wasn’t very interested.  My point here is, don’t get too discouraged just because you keep getting rejected because it’s not going to be a straight shot.

When I landed the interview with Curse, I was stoked.  I won’t get into interview tips here since that would require another post but suffice it to say that it went well.  During interviews in general, I very rarely get asked about what I did during school (maybe because I’m too old for it to be relevant anymore 🙁 ) and Curse was no exception.  I wasn’t a recent grad and my professional experience was more pertinent so I focused on speaking about that. They were also very organized and coordinated, which is definitely one of the things that really stood out to me and made me want to work here even more.

Where I’m at now

Staff badge for earlyspark at TwitchConI still feel pretty blessed to work at Curse — being here is certainly one of my dream jobs and I intend to stay in the gaming field in the future.  I recognize that the grass is always greener on the other side so I should also mention some things that aren’t always so amazing in case you think my job is perfect.

  1. Work is work and you gotta take the good with the bad. No matter what job you have, even if it’s a dream job or you’re working for yourself, there will be times when the work you do isn’t the most fulfilling thing you’re doing.  Hopefully, there are a lot of other tasks that you do enjoy doing but at the end of the day, nobody’s job is 100% fun and bliss so I don’t think you should expect that.
  2. The more you put yourself into something, the more you should get out of it.  What I mean by that is don’t expect the glorious, wonderful projects to be delivered to you on a silver platter.  In my spare time at work, I always think to myself how I can do better at what I’m doing, how my work will go on when I leave, and how this would scale if we hired 20 more people down the line.  My managers don’t ask me to do that explicitly, I just do it on my own and for me, contributing to the team in that way is fulfilling so you get out of it what you put into it.  If you’re only putting in the bare minimum, then you’ll only find yourself barely fulfilled because you’re expecting someone else to bring you something exciting.
  3. If you’re at a company that’s larger than a startup, there will always be politics involved in the upper echelons of the company.  I hate politics as much as anyone else but you do have to sort of figure out how to navigate it, especially if you want to level up.  One thing I will say in this regard is to not get involved in gossip.  That puts me out of the cool kids club in a lot of ways and I’ll certainly listen but I try not to participate.  It’s a slippery slope to toxicity and I think I’d rather rally around positives than negatives.  I’m an optimistic cynic.

Conclusion

I think no matter what your experience level, you have to know how your skills will bring value to a company and be able to showcase that.  It’s more about finding the right fit than it is throwing yourself at any random gaming company that will take you.  I hope this post gave you some insight and perspective on how you can get your dream job at any company or inspired you to apply to Twitch!

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