Righto, enough is enough! Over the last few years, and particularly within the last few months, tsumea has been receiving a constant stream of messages and emails from high school students, school teachers, and program directors of special courses, all of whom are requesting further information on work experience in the local games industry. I can imagine that many Australian / New Zealand game studios are getting the same sort of enquiries, and it's unfortunate that in the eight years I've been running Sumea / tsumea, I've only known of *one* games studio who are publically known to offer work experience opportunities for high school'ers.
Film Victoria do have The Digital Media Internship program open for Melbourne students, however, that really is at another level beyond work experience.
The reasons why many local game studios do not offer work experience are many and varied. In fact, Zaph wrote a very good summary back in 2003 on why devs simply shy away from offering it, and those reasons are most likely still valid to this day. You can read the original thread here. The reasons Zaph gave are:
- Lack of a suitable 'mentor' to look after the student (or at least a suitable mentor with enough time to spare)
- Difficulty in finding appropriate work for students to do - most games people would want a student to get to do more than stuffing envelopes or stapling stuff :-) (although I think it is appropriate to demonstrate that it's not all fun & games, if you pardon the pun)
- The payoff is very long term (probably at least 3 years before you'll see that student back looking for a job) so some people don't see it as a benefit (many do, since they know how hard it is to find skilled interested people in Australia)
- Timing... Work experience usually occurs at busy times in a games companies schedule, occurring during one of the 12 months of the year :-) One thing about games companies... there's *always* an important milestone about to happen!
So, in a quest to settle the air of mystery around work experience once and for all, what is the current status? Do we have any game studios who offer it? Or are they still generally disinterested in providing it for the reasons above?
Personally speaking, I think work experience is a *great* way for the local industry to promote themselves and garner more talent / interest in the games industry field. There are so many other creative industries (Graphic Design, Film, Animation and FX etc) that have the same constraints and issues that Zaph has mentioned above that do however offer work experience, so what is the hold up?
Give me your answers, thoughts, and opinions in the comments below!