Most roles in the games industry are very specialised now. From art director, environment concept artist, sound effects designer to GUI designer. Therefore, when looking for a job in the industry, there are many kinds of roles that you could work in, and they are all part of the pipeline for shipping out games. Back in time, there could have been only three guys working on a game, and they would all take up several roles each. However, nowadays looking at big companies like Epic Games and Ubisoft, there could be over three hundred people working on a single title. So from generalist to specialist, the games industry has evolved and matured over the years and continues to do so.
Not everyone working on games will be a full time employee of the company. Some will be outsourced or freelancers that will work on the project as part of a short term contract. Sometimes developers need more people working on a certain part of a project, either to cover for incoming deadlines or absent employees or even just to get in some new styles for certain things. It could also be a cheaper option than employing someone full time. But working free lance is not an easy job. There are many free lancers looking for work, some are extremely good and experienced, and yet there are so many applying for a single job, they can’t get in anywhere. Generally a freelance concept artist has to depend on luck.
The article I linked below entitled “You don’t want to work in the video games industry” highlights all the bad points in working in this industry. It stirred up a lot of comments and arguments, a lot complaining that half the points made are not true. And it reminds me of the saying “its not what you know, its who you know”, implying that you need to have the right contacts to get to where you want to be in your working life. While this may be true, I refuse to believe it’s the only way forward. One of the points made in that article is that enthusiasm is not a qualifier for anything. I believe this needs to be looked at. While yes of course if someone applies for a job as a programmer, and is only enthusiastic about it but their work is lacking and they have no examples to prove there work, their enthusiasm of course wouldn’t be enough alone to land a job. However, enthusiasm is still a quality that is needed in most cases, along with skills and relevant qualifications. Since you could employee a 3D modeller, who is so unenthusiastic, they may quit the job in the first few weeks. This would be time wasting and loss of money and hours for the project. An enthusiastic worker is more likely to get the work done on time, be an active member of the project, and also their enthusiasm would in general lead them to have a great interest in the subject and therefore they would likely have more knowledge of it from them finding out more about it.
Another thing he mentions is the crunch time, with hours of unpaid overtime. Well if you are passionate about your work, crunch times shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Of course it will require hard work and time, but so does most things.