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Be Your Own Questgiver in Life

October 16, 2012

I found this video from the 2012 Eurogamer Expo today. In it, Chet Faliszek from Valve talks about how to get a job in the game industry. But the philosophy also relates to almost all other jobs.

A lot of people probably know the sentence: “Need experience to get a job. Must have a job to get experience.” – followed by a sad condition. But as Chet Faliszek talks about in the video, life isn’t fair, and no one is going to come take your hand and lead you safely through it. “Nobody knows you. You’re just a piece of paper. You’re really easy to dismiss.”

However, when being unemployed, one usually has a lot of time on one’s hands. I know most unemployed people are already using this time to do something worthwhile. Sending out applications, going to job centers, trying to build contacts and maybe working for free to advance their skills and get something on the CV. And still, so many people just don’t get a job. Because there are none to be had.

Something Chet Faliszek says, holds great meaning though. And it’s applicable not only to people who might want to work in the game industry, but to people everywhere: If there are no jobs to be had, why not try to create your own?

We live in a time and society, where people in most modern countries have the liberty of free choice. You can choose what to do with your own life, and thus be the architect of your own fortunes. This is both good and bad. It is good because we have the ability to basically follow our dreams and create unique lives suiting our unique needs. It is bad because, when things don’t go the way we intend, it also falls back on ourselves, and we feel the failure as a harsh, personal sting.

It is not necessarily like this all the time, as any number of things beyond our personal control can affect our lives. But we do have a high amount of free choice available. In modern society, this relates to building an image. Image has never been more important than it is now, and without one, succeeding on the job market can prove fairly difficult.

What Chet Faliszek is trying to communicate is that you need to build that image yourself. No one is going to do it for you.

Sometimes the most important choices you make in life, are the choices you make based on what you truly feel is right. Spending a day thoroughly contemplating what you actually dream of doing might prove more useful and result-creating in the end than a day spent applying for another few jobs that you don’t truly feel like you want to spend the rest of your life, or even a month in.

Do you actually want to become an author? Or a game developer? Spend a bit of that unemployed time to hone your skills. Our society has taught us that we need to do something every day that leads to either money or prestige in other people’s eyes, but we tend to forget about ourselves, and we end up becoming yet another application at the bottom of the pile. It’s all too easy to get lost.

Some people are probably going to read this and think: “I have been honing my skills, and there is still no job to get.” I know. We are still in the middle of a crisis. I don’t pretend to know everything about said crisis, but I think that what society needs right now is people who can think in alternate paths and break new ground. Being in a set job with set times and a monthly paycheck is desirable for many people right now, and those jobs do exist and are the bread and butter of society. On the other hand, this world needs more creativity, which has drowned in talks of money, time, inflation, interest, bankruptcy, unemployment etc. etc.

Sounding like a cliché, but clichés are not necessarily bad during a crisis when people need something to hold on to. And the point of above is that we need to think differently than we have been doing for a long time. And when I say a long time, I mean even before the crisis of 2008, and even before the years that lead to it, and even before then. In fact, we need to think like we haven’t done before in the past.

People will always think and worry about money. Especially when being unemployed and with a rent to pay and mouths to feed. But the thought of earning money might have become somewhat of a hinder and a burden rather than a motivation to move forward for our society. It’s time to think outside of the box. I know being creative doesn’t work well under pressure and stress, and again, I don’t claim to be an expert, but I think Chet Faliszek is on to something when he talks about creating. Take out a few hours every other day to work on something you like and feel passionate about instead of spending that time searching for yet more jobs that are not within your field of interest. Build your brand instead. The beauty of our society is, as mentioned before, that you can make it unique. And if you are unique, you will not just be another application.You will be a matter of interest who have shown that you can produce ideas. Create your own unique experience. And if you still don’t get feedback on your applications, make sure to show them your face, so they know exactly who you are. And if it still doesn’t work, then go solo and create your own, personal workplace. The internet is a vast place and an amazing platform for creativity. And if you are interested in something like games, books, comics etc., it’s nothing less of a free playground.

When Matt and I started this blog, we of course dabbled in thoughts of making our entrepreneurship dreams come true and ultimately earn money on a things we both love, namely games. We are not that far yet, and no one knows if we ever will be. But creating the blog was a turning point. We don’t have nearly as much time to write and edit as we’d like, and the blog occasionally suffers in silence for days. But it has been an outlet for us, where we can play and experiment with building a brand and figuring out what we like to do. And of course it has given us something on the CV, the ability to hone our skills, inspired many funny thoughts and made us get in contact with people who share our interests and who have become a big, big part of our universe as both contributors and friends. Creativity starts alone, but it brings people together. And the more people you can share your thoughts with, the more likely is the chance that it’ll lead somewhere. Maybe that guy over there knows how to animate, that girl knows how to build a website … before you know it, you will have gathered a team of differently skilled people who can help things progress and maybe create something entirely new and worthwhile.

And here in the end, it is important to mention: Don’t ever feel like your ideas are dumb and then be afraid to share them. As Chet Faliszek says: “People have made some of the dumbest, stupidest things that have made us laugh, that we’ve passed around, then we started talking about them.”

So start working on it. “Every day you come home from work, work on it some more. Show it to your friends. Talk about it. Get feedback on it. Play test it. And when it’s ready, release it.”

“There, you just gave yourself a job in the game industry.”

Original Article: Eurogamer: How do you get a job in the game industry? “Give yourself one,” Valve tells us

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