Welcome to our FAQs for breaking into Games Research and User Experience (GRUX)! We have taken some of the most popular questions, themes, and resources from our amazing Discord community and laid them out for you below. If you’d like to interact more with us feel free to join the community by clicking this link.
Disclaimer: This FAQ is mostly focused on how to break into the games user research field, but we are continuously expanding this as we identify more core questions newcomers commonly ask. While the information shown here was curated by members of the community who have experience in GRUX, it is not always 100% going to pan out this way for any individual’s journey. Please take that into consideration.
Table of Contents
Click any of the following questions to immediately jump to that question:
- Lots of people seem to get jobs and work through referrals and recommendations, how do you grow your network in GRUX?
- What types of soft-skills are integral to working as a games user researcher?
- Is it common to go through multiple rounds of interviews and not get an offer? Why?
- How many resumes do companies get for entry level roles?
- My graduation date is coming up in the next few months, when should I start applying for jobs?
- How do I gain experience without a job?
- How do I translate my games research skills from academia into industry?
- How do I translate my research experience from other industries into games?
- Additional Resources
Lots of people seem to get jobs and work through referrals and recommendations, how do you grow your network in GRUX?
There are a couple of tried and true methods for growing your network. The GRUX SIG is one of the most welcoming and curious groups of folks around, so here’s a list that should help you get started:
- Put yourself out there by writing articles, giving talks, or even creating a podcast!
- Engaging in the professional community, whether on Discord, Twitter, LinkedIn or by volunteering for SIG activities, can help you get noticed and grow your network.
- Attend conferences like the #gamesUR Summit, GDC, and the Game UX Summit.
- Keep an eye on the GRUX Discord for events both online and in-person and in several time zones. If you don’t see an event in your area feel free to try organizing one yourself. The Steering Committee will happily help with logistics and getting the word out.
- A final note to keep in mind is that some companies have rules in place restricting interactions with candidates outside of hiring processes, and the hiring manager may be getting a lot of cold inquiries and may not respond to everyone out of fairness. The takeaway here is to network with, and get to know folks before the role goes live. It’s also worth remembering that folks in your network might not be able to get you an interview with a company regardless of their seniority in it.
What types of soft-skills are integral to working as a games user researcher?
A couple of the soft skills that our community recommends that you familiarize yourself with and continually try to improve in are the following:
- Interpersonal Skills such as active listening, open communication, empathy, and humility.
- Familiarizing yourself with with core UR and GUR concepts. You can find out more about them here
- Public speaking and presenting
- Be comfortable not knowing things and seeking out answers
Is it common to go through multiple rounds of interviews and not get an offer? Why?
Unfortunately, it is common to go through multiple rounds of interviews and not receive an offer. There can be several great applicants for each role, and sometimes the decision is not even up to the hiring manager but rather their superiors. The key thing is to keep applying. Even if you don’t get an offer, each interview is an opportunity to learn and improve for the next one. Don’t get discouraged and keep trying, remember that the hiring manager and recruiter will likely stay in the industry and any form of harassment towards them is not going to help your chances at all.
How many resumes do companies get for entry level roles?
The answer here, especially for larger organizations, is “lots”. Make sure that when you are applying for roles, your resume stands out from the rest and crucially mentions that you are passionate about and want to work in GRUX, and not that you are randomly applying for every job at company X. Hiring managers can see that.
My graduation date is coming up in the next few months, when should I start applying for jobs?
Hiring processes can be long and arduous for all involved, sometimes taking up to 6 months or even longer. It is best practice to not apply for jobs that you cannot accept within the next 12 months. Remember that you could be competing with someone who has a 3-month notice period! The big tip here is to have your availability on your application and let the employer decide. You may get an interview for a future role as companies want to keep a pool of potential future hires and hiring managers having a handful of pre-cleared candidates can help expedite the process for future roles. Keep in mind that HR operates on its own schedule, so be patient and stay engaged with the company.
How do I gain experience without a job?
The age old question that transcends all industries! Here are some tips gathered from our community:
- To get into the games industry, start by working on your own usability and/or heuristic evaluations of games. Consider posting this on a blog or including it in job submissions to show your interest and skills.
- Reach out to local indie or solo developers and see if they would be interested in having a volunteer researcher for a one-off project. This can help you gain experience and build your portfolio.
- If you’re a student, consider joining a game development club at your university. This can provide an opportunity to work on projects and network with others who are starting off in the industry.
- Importantly for junior roles: Have a piece of work to talk about when applying for jobs. This will give the hiring manager something concrete to consider and may make them more likely to want to talk to you.
- If you’re in academia, consider doing a game-related project, even if it’s not directly related to usability and user experience. This can help you gain experience and show your passion for the industry.
- Get a mentor or have a look through the other initiatives in our Discord that we use to connect folks in the industry with new prospects.
How do I translate my games research skills from academia into industry?
Some of the biggest differences between academia and industry are research timelines and creating actionable insights with your work. While the methods for collecting and analyzing data may be similar, the biggest challenge is often taking the broad, abstract insights and turning them into specific, actionable steps. Keep in mind that industry folks are looking for practical solutions to real-world problems, so be sure to focus on finding actionable steps that the developer can take to improve their product. Remember that the folks you’re working with can have development cycles of as little as two weeks, so getting the findings to them fast and with good momentum is crucial.
When working in the industry you are likely to be involved in a much larger organization and you’ll need to be able to collaborate effectively with other team members and stakeholders, communicate your findings clearly and be flexible in adapting your work into the organization’s timelines and bandwidth.
How do I translate my research experience from other industries into games?
Firstly, it is important to recognize that while non-game industry experience is valuable, it may not always be directly translatable to games user research. However, there are two key things you can do to prepare yourself for a transition into games research:
Firstly, it is beneficial to have experience with broader research methods. You can become familiar with Game User Research (GUR) concepts through books, online courses, and workshops.
Secondly, creating your own body of research in games is encouraged. Participating in game jams, such as the Global Game Jam, is a great way to start building your portfolio. You can find game jams on platforms like itch.io. Even if you don’t have experience with game development, you can get involved in game jams and learn from other participants. In-person game jams can be particularly useful for networking and meeting people in the industry.
It is also important to familiarize yourself with game-specific research methodologies, such as playtesting and telemetry, as well as the development cycle and timelines of game teams. Keep in mind that working in entertainment often involves a lot of secrecy, so it is crucial to handle customer data with the utmost privacy.
Working with Local Developers to Gain Experience in Games User Research: https://www.gamedeveloper.com/production/working-with-local-developers-to-gain-experience-in-games-user-research
Networking in Games User Research: https://gamesuserresearch.com/2021/06/24/networking-in-games-user-research/
How to Help Recruiters and Hiring Managers Get You in the Door: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpC0TX7gtLg
The Power of Online Networking: https://medium.com/@kindofstrange/game-industry-101-the-power-of-online-networking-e59edcdb2f4e
Introvert’s Guide to Games Industry Networking: https://intogames.org/news/games-industry-networking-the-introverts-guide
Leveling Up Your Skills as a Student User Researcher: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYxwkD0l8rohttps: