The game industry and relocation, how bad is it?

polycounter lvl 8
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MainManiac polycounter lvl 8
Ive been thinking of what I want to do (graduating in a week from HS) and everything points down the art road.. but the biggest turnoff Ive seen is the relocation, sometimes major. Iceland, Sweden, London :O (wouldn't mind Canada) Im in the US though, and even moving between states is a pretty big move.

So Im curious

Were any of you able to find a "local" job in the game industry?
How many times have you relocated
Whats the average length of time spent in the new area?

I wouldn't mind relocating once or twice, but too many times keeps pulling me out of "home" and throwing me somewhere else and its hard to get to know people in that amount of time.


Thanks!


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  • Joshua Stubbles
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    Joshua Stubbles polycounter lvl 14
    I moved from Minnesota to Illinois for my first job. Was there about 5 months.

    Moved from Illinois to Nevada, was there about 7yrs, including time at a non-videogame studio, IGT.

    Moved from Nevada to Washington to work at Microsoft Game Studios for 2yrs (3, including "off" time).

    Moved from Washington to Texas, where I've been since August of last year.

    I wasn't able to find any fulltime jobs in the Seattle area while I was there, only contract jobs (anywhere from 3-12 months) but the mandatory "off" time (usually 90 days) between contracts at most places, made the premise of contract work VERY taxing on me, financially. I'm STILL recovering from my time as a contractor and being unemployed. Not fun.

    It sucks to move, especially long distances. But in the end you have to do what you have to do, right?
  • Selaznog
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    Selaznog polycounter lvl 5
    Wow, you have some great models in your gallery! Very impressive at 17. You're really lucky to have been learning 3D in high school, not very many people get that chance.

    If I were you, I'd continue with your 3D, you're already really good. Maybe consider taking some part time courses. Your work is already better than a lot of student work I see here...

    That demon face video is awesome :D


    Anyways, I sort of went on a tangent. I think you should go for it. There will be relocation, but it's gonna pay off if you're doing what you love.


    What's your plan if not going into the game industry?
  • ae.
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    ae. polycounter lvl 9
    Im from Vancouver originally and after 1 year searching for jobs there and the amount of people that are unemployed with way more experience than me i decided to look elsewhere.

    luckily thanks to the help of my sexy man lover Jason Lavoie got a job and relocated to London Ontario definitely not a city i would see myself in but sometimes you need to do things that you are uncomfortable with to fulfill your dreams.

    what helps in both our cases is that We are younger so relocating for jobs is super easy due to the fact we dont have a family to uproot. Once your a little older and want to settle down it gets harder so i would relocate get some experience and eventually find a place that you can see working at for the duration of your life :P
  • GarageBay9
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    GarageBay9 polycounter lvl 8
    I've spent about 6-7 years in Seattle professionally and refuse to relocate, but there have been some long, painful stretches without work (especially during the Great Recession). Fortunately my wife brings a second income in, and I've been able to scrape together freelance work here and there in the slow times.

    Things are looking better again, but it's definitely a bit more challenging than moving to where the work is on-site.
  • Ghostscape
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    Ghostscape polycounter lvl 13
    I grew up in Rochester NY, went to school there, then left and went to Champaign IL for 5 years, and recently moved to Irvine CA.
  • Jeremy Tabor
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    Jeremy Tabor polycounter lvl 9
    Grew up outside of Baltimore, moved to Pittsburgh for school and stayed for a bit after working for a medical simulations company, and then just a few months ago packed up and moved here to L.A. to look for games related work.

    It has payed off already, as I've gotten a cool opportunity almost right off the bat with The Foundry, and I hope that it develops into more opportunities from there.

    One thing I would say is that you are young, and a move isn't going to be that bad since you probably aren't as rooted in an area as if you had a family or some other major obligations. I am only 21 myself, and it cost just a little over a grand to get my girlfriend, myself and a condensed version of our things over here.

    It wasn't all that bad, really! It took me a bit to save up the cash cushion I needed to make the move and first few month's expenses, but so far, it has been well worth it and like i said, I am excited about the things on the horizon. Things which may not have been as readily available to me had I been in Pittsburgh.
  • Vio
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    Vio polycounter lvl 6
    I find the hardest thing about relocation is simply integration. If I went to California from here in North Wales, it sounds silly but the road systems are radically different so you have to take on things like that, would you have enough money for deposits, would you even need one? how will you get all your stuff over, to the right house and at the right time?

    Its basically just a huge bitch of things to consider. When I moved to Sweden it was things like the language barrier and getting used to their currency. Of course the change in culture came into it to.
  • ambershee
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    ambershee polycounter lvl 13
    I've moved eight times since 2005, including across national/language borders. I'm at the extreme end of the scale though.
  • Nysuatro
    I am from Belgium, moved to Finland for a couple of months for my internship and then moved to Birmingham (UK) where I still work. I love the challenge of living in an other country as it teaches me many things in life. So I do not mind moving from country to country. It is my goal to meet many different people from different countries so I can learn from them and keep on evolving as a person.
  • Alberto Rdrgz
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    Alberto Rdrgz polycounter lvl 9
    Ghostscape wrote: »
    I grew up in Rochester NY, went to school there, then left and went to Champaign IL for 5 years, and recently moved to Irvine CA.

    how is so cal? i have an interview there soon. and the thought of moving again is giving me cold feeet... :poly122:

    also, this a general question to anyone, How much do companies assist in the move on average?
  • Jason Young
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    Jason Young polycounter lvl 10
    Plenty of companies still give relocation assistance. Typically it'll be with publisher owned studios.

    To the OP, relocation is something you need to be open to starting out. You could do contract work from home and make a living wherever you want, but I would really recommend being open to all possibilities. If you really don't want to move around a lot, pick a "hub" city and try to get a job there. At least if you're laid off you have a better chance of finding something without having to move across country. With that said, I live in a hub city and there's still only a handful of jobs out there at any one time. It's no guarantee.

    I went to school in Phoenix and found a job right out of school so I didn't have to move right away. Of course, it wasn't a great gig and I got laid off twice there(once after a year, once after the studio shut down), but plenty of people have that opportunity to not move right away. By the time I got laid off, though, the "industry" in Phoenix had dried up and I ended up moving to Iowa City for a games job. Worked there for a couple years and got laid off again after the studio closed. Ended up eventually moving to Austin without a job, got something within a few months of being here, got laid off before I started, then got another job last month which I'm stoked about.

    So, cliff's notes. Lots of shit happens, so be prepared. :) The better you are, the easier it is. Living in an area with a decent number of studios also makes it a bit easier.
  • PredatorGSR
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    PredatorGSR polycounter lvl 7
    It is kind of hit and miss whether you'll get relocation for junior roles. Midlevel to senior roles its more expected.

    I would recommend being open to relocation in the first part of your career. You are going to stunt your career growth unless you get really lucky, and have a much harder time finding a job. I've moved from California to Colorado to Austin in the first 5 years of my career due to layoffs/job openings.

    Once you've done it a few times, it's really not that big of a deal, and something that just comes with a territory. It's never pleasant, but it would never prevent me from taking a better job.
  • [HP]
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    [HP] polycounter lvl 12
    it's part of the fun! :)
  • JacqueChoi
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    JacqueChoi interpolator
    This is a problem with the 21st century across almost every industry.




    Gone are the days of spending 40 years at 1 company.
  • skylebones
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    skylebones polycounter lvl 10
    Been working in games 10 years this month, and only moved once two years ago. From SLC to Atlanta. So it's not all constant moving.
  • Del
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    Del polycounter lvl 9
    I moved around the UK for my current and last job and I was very unsure I would like it, but it turned out to be great.

    Just remember that when you do move, you'll be working with likeminded people many of whom had to move around too; So they will often welcome a new person to integrate into their social circle and their friends will become your friends :)

    Do it while you're young, because you might not be able to when you're older and more set into your environment.
  • Alberto Rdrgz
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    Alberto Rdrgz polycounter lvl 9
    Del wrote: »
    Just remember that when you do move, you'll be working with likeminded people many of whom had to move around too; So they will often welcome a new person to integrate into their social circle and their friends will become your friends :)

    damn, you just cured a lot of my doubts. :) :thumbup:
  • Justin Meisse
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    Justin Meisse polycounter lvl 14
    I'd say you would have to move out of the US only of you want to. Moving between states isn't that hard, most studios will cover relo for full time positions, especially large ones. I believe Blizzard covers relo and temporary housing.
  • seven
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    seven polycounter lvl 9
    I've moved 3 times for companies in the past 2 and a half years. Twice for the same company. As stated above each move has it's own challenges.

    Deposits and landing well money wise in the act of getting a place can be a challenge. If you're moving from a area that is generally reasonable in the rent/real estate area to SoCal or the Bay area (which has some of the highest rent in the country) can be daunting. For this learn to save a good chunk of your paycheck to prepare for these things because it will get used. Companies assisting with relocation helps but it is still likely you will be paying out of pocket for some of the expenses.

    Getting to know a new place can be a challenge as well. It's one of those things that you just have to motor through.

    Always save for a rainy day.
  • bugo
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    bugo polycounter lvl 12
    Moved from south Brasil to south California and then to Texas, wasn't that bad. You get used to it.
  • MainManiac
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    MainManiac polycounter lvl 8
    for some of you it seems pretty extreme. But like I said I wouldn't mind moving once or twice but I would *prefer* not to be moving every 1.5 years.


    For what its worth, I live in florida, are there any studios here? Id think florida would be a good hub for studios with full sail being here also, but I dont know.

    Thanks for the replies guys
  • JacqueChoi
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    JacqueChoi interpolator
    If you don't feel like moving often, I suggest moving to a 'hub' where there are more opportunities.

    LA, Austin, Montreal.


    That said, this is the tech sector, and things can crash or change rapidly seemingly overnight (as with almost every other industry). Vancouver had a pretty thriving industry that's nearly been gutted (thankfully they have a thriving 3D film industry that many artists have transitioned to).

    But even if government subsidies were slowly lowered, I'd imagine Montreal would become pretty barren as well. The UK JUST got their tax breaks, so you can expect quite a few studios to start popping open there in the near future.


    Unless you're a doctor or tenured teacher, or a traded labourer (plumber/electrician), there's a chance you might have to eventually relocate for work in your field.


    I've recently had a few engineering friends have to move from Alberta to Texas, and Bakersfield due to Oil Prices not being optimal for refinement of Alberta Oil sands.
  • Ghostscape
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    Ghostscape polycounter lvl 13
    frell wrote: »
    for some of you it seems pretty extreme. But like I said I wouldn't mind moving once or twice but I would *prefer* not to be moving every 1.5 years.


    For what its worth, I live in florida, are there any studios here? Id think florida would be a good hub for studios with full sail being here also, but I dont know.

    Thanks for the replies guys

    gamedevmap.com is pretty good for figuring this stuff out - it's not super uptodate or anything, but it helps.

    The only FL studio I'm aware of off the top of my head is EA Tiburon, which is their Madden/Tiger Woods/other sports games mill. You'll churn a lot of titles but it's hard deadlines on every project and a lot of crunch to meet them.
  • Kwramm
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    Kwramm interpolator
    average stay...if you don't count the first gig which was just 6 months, then on average 3 years. I've lived in London, Oslo, Beijing and now in Shanghai and it's been a great experience. On the other hand I also know folks in 3D who've been staying in their own area pretty much all the time.
    The only thing that doesn't change though is that the industry is not one where you work at the same company your entire life. If you don't like moving, have a plan of how to stay afloat when inbetween jobs.
  • monster
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    monster Polycount Sponsor
    After 11 years in the industry, I've never left Dallas. Like AE. said, moving is easy when you are young and single. Once you are married with kids and a house it gets harder.

    You're very young so here's a little life advice when you do get that first job:
    Don't ever blow an entire paycheck on anything.
    Slowly save up at least six months worth of rent and utilities. This will help if you suddenly find yourself unemployed.
    Consider buying a small condo instead of renting. You get money back when you move and sell it.
    Don't ever buy a new car because a used last year's model is thousands cheaper.

    I actually wish I had moved around more and got to live in different places. I've only ever lived in Texas.
  • ae.
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    ae. polycounter lvl 9
    monster wrote: »
    After 11 years in the industry, I've never left Dallas. Like AE. said, moving is easy when you are young and single. Once you are married with kids and a house it gets harder.

    You're very young so here's a little life advice when you do get that first job:
    Don't ever blow an entire paycheck on anything.
    Slowly save up at least six months worth of rent and utilities. This will help if you suddenly find yourself unemployed.
    Consider buying a small condo instead of renting. You get money back when you move and sell it.
    Don't ever buy a new car because a used last year's model is thousands cheaper.

    I actually wish I had moved around more and got to live in different places. I've only ever lived in Texas.

    +1

    gotta agree make sure to save as much as you can, when i moved here i saved a lot but started spending money on new furniture and such which i kinda regret now.

    Save enough money that if there was ever a time you were unemployed that it would not be a financially troublesome time for you :)
  • Selaznog
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    Selaznog polycounter lvl 5
    This is great information guys, really helpful to know :)
  • Vio
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    Vio polycounter lvl 6
    Ghostscape wrote: »
    gamedevmap.com is pretty good for figuring this stuff out - it's not super uptodate or anything, but it helps.

    The only EA studio I'm aware of off the top of my head is EA Tiburon, which is their Madden/Tiger Woods/other sports games mill. You'll churn a lot of titles but it's hard deadlines on every project and a lot of crunch to meet them.

    I hope they update that site soon. Still pretty good though, its thanks to that site I got my work experience, just so many of those companies no longer exist.
  • chrisradsby
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    chrisradsby polycounter lvl 10
    I moved to England for my first job (from Sweden), I was there for a year and was employed at two companies during my time there. Evolution Studios and Sony Liverpool.

    My advice is to save lots of money, and live light, be ready to pack the bags if you ever get a chance. This doesn't mean that you should jump at the first chance you get though. I'm back in Sweden now though, I plan to stay here as long as I can. However if I somehow can't find a job here I'm moving out of country again for sure.
  • Mark Dygert
    I hear roughnecks on oil rigs put down roots longer than people in the industry.

    I count myself lucky and I've been at the same company for 6 years. We aren't making AAA FPS games but we do pretty well and I can't complain about deadlines or crunch. It's a good stable dependable place to work that treats us well. But I count that as the exception not the rule.
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