management will likely improve your chances of
finding a job. Agile approaches like Scrum are especially popular in software development. If you’re
considering becoming certified, I recommend
the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®
certification. The certification exam covers multiple
agile approaches, including Scrum, and their fundamentals. The knowledge you’ll gain from preparing
for the test is invaluable.
While you’re applying for jobs, you can volunteer
with game hobbyists or create your own titles. Some
great tools for nontechnical people and beginners
are Game Maker and Game Salad. These programs
feature a drag and drop interface and do the bulk of
the engineering work for you. Your first game should
be simple and straightforward. It doesn’t have to be
digital. Design a simple game on paper, then iterate
the rules and play again.
Another option is to talk with your local PMI chapter—many of the chapters accept mentees.
Internships are a terrific way to get your foot in the
door. Most of the large game studios in the U.S. offer
paid internships, but they are extremely competitive.
If you’re fortunate enough to be offered one, grab it.
It’s the way I got my start.
An internship will expose you to the building
blocks of the game industry, including managing
product milestones and deadlines, interacting with
team members, creating documents and possibly
even leading a small project. It should also be great
preparation for your first full-time job in gaming
project management. PM
VOICES In the Trenches
Breaking Into Video Games
Competition is stiff when your projects are video games—so plan your entrance into the industry carefully.
By Matthew Birken, PMI-ACP
Matthew Birken, PMI-ACP, is a project
manager at High 5 Games, New York, New
AS A PROJECT MANAGER at a video game company, I’m often asked how to break into the industry
or how one becomes a project manager in this field.
There’s a good reason for these questions. The
game industry offers the chance to work in an area
that many people are passionate about. And project
management is booming, with 15. 7 million new proj-
ect management jobs projected to be created around
the world between 2010 and
2020, according to PMI.
Students interested in combining these interests should
first research game design
schools and programs. When
choosing a school, make sure
its program is suited to your
goals. Do you want to become
a technical project manager or
an art manager? Do you want
to handle client expectations or
lead teams? Focus is very important, and being able to demonstrate expertise in a specific area
vastly improves your chance of
finding a job. In addition to the
information you learn in school,
massive amounts of free and
premium training are available
on the Internet.
Because people skills are so crucial in project management, students should also work on
leadership, emotional intelligence and the ability
to trust a team. Effective project managers need
to be skilled in bringing out the best in people,
teamwork and intuitive problem-solving.
Obtaining a professional certification in project