The Time for Remote Work in the Game Industry is NOW!

Working from home or remotely for your job is hardly a new concept. It’s been there for a very long time. In fact, the first well known case of remote work dates back to over four decades ago, when physicist Jack Nilles worked remotely on NASA’s communication system back in 1973. An effort that awarded him the unofficial title of “Father of Telecommuting“.

My first personal experience working remotely was for some small remote operational tasks back in 2004. But it wasn’t full day remote. Then during my job as software engineer at a telecom company in 2006, I would ask for occasional work-from-home days. We didn’t have official remote work policy, but my manager was had faith in me, and allowed it whenever I asked. These remote days were the best. It was such a relief to be away from all the daily meetings, interruptions, and not to mention the commute. Also having to go back to your car under 50 ℃ was not fun at all.

Then I started my own online business, and had my first remote hire through oDesk (now Upwork) back in 2007. It was really good experience, with positive outcome. From then on, I knew this was my favorite way of handling work. And I’ve been working from home completely since 2009, and hiring 100% remotely for all kinds of jobs. Designers, writers, programmers, voice actors. You name it.

That was then, and I am from Kuwait. Not exactly the edge of technology and advancements. So remote work is really not a new thing, nor just starting to pickup. In fact, a study in the U.S. showed that 4.7 million employees work from home half the week, with 44% of the employees saying their company has full-time remote workers. Over the last decade, we’ve seen rise to many large remote freelancing companies such as Upwork, Fiverr, TopTal, and Codementor. Each have hundreds or thousands of workers of various skills, eager to take on the next job.

Yet, and while not completely absent, remote work in the game industry has never caught on like other industries. The reasons vary, but the result is the same. Most AAA and major studios only hire remotely occasionally, usually for contract or freelance work. This was true up till less than 6 months ago. Before the Corona virus outbreak, and the inevitable lockdown that have hit studios in every continent. Once that happened, studios had a choice to make:

1- Shutdown operations completely

2- Work remotely

Despite most studios not being ready for the transition, most have turned their work environment completely 100% remote. Biggest studios in the industry like EA, Rockstar Games, Ubisoft, CD Projekt Red and Bethesda have all turned remote, with Bethesda even launching the latest major update to Fallout 76, Wastelanders. Online operation resumes uninterrupted as before as well.

While most certainly not as convenient or ideal under the pressure of time, pulling this off in the middle of a crisis, without too much planning ahead proves remote work in the game industry can be done. It is effective. And while surely it has its difficulties, it also brings with it lot of benefits.

Lose Some, Win Some

Since February, I began to see more and more cases of people in the game industry losing their job due to COVID-19. This is happening not just in the game industry, but across almost all industries. It’s heartbreaking to see great talents suddenly call on Twitter for any remote job opportunity to secure their next paycheck.

On the plus side, while many studios had to let people go, others were adopting and actually growing their teams, opening up more remote opportunities than ever before. And since these jobs are remote, candidate can literally be from anywhere. Some exceptions apply due to time-zone requirements. But the pool of candidates became bigger than before. And anyone who lose their job now have many new remote chances.

This is not to say it’s easy to find a new job. It’s still rather very difficult. But is there something we can do to help?

Through my work on Skirmish (the game development showcase platform), I’ve wanted to do something to help talents find game jobs. What I had was not working, and I knew I want to take a different approach to solve that problem. I just didn’t know what. I kept rethinking and jotting down ideas, vowing to get to it once I have clear vision.

The events that transpired this February is what inspired me to work on and launch a site dedicated to finding remote game jobs. Once I saw the need by game talents for remote work, and the willingness of studios to embrace this style of work (for now at least), it all became clear to me. Now is the best time to promote remote work in the game industry. It will help people find new jobs, and hopefully forever change the perception of remote work on games.

And so, end of last month, RemoteGameJobs went live, and I was really thrilled by the initial reaction and how well it was received. So if you’re in the game industry, and seeking job opportunities, please go and check it now. And make sure to subscriber to the type of jobs you’re interested in. We will only email you if we find jobs for you. Otherwise we won’t be bothering you.

We have plans for this blog as well, and will fill it with useful resources around working in the game industry, and focusing on the remote nature of it. So keep an eye on it as well.

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