I find the concept of simply showing you’re “passionate” about game development during the hiring process being thrown around a lot. As a hiring manager, how accurate is this actually?

There is more than one way to interpret the idea of being “passionate” about game development and each interpretation is important to understand for someone who hopes to find employment in the game industry. In my eyes, there’s two major interpretations - the general passion for game development as a whole, and the specific passion for a chosen field within game dev.

The general interpretation is that you need to have some personal interest in game dev as a career because people who are only looking for a paycheck will not do well. We don’t get paid as much as other fields, nor do we get the kind of perks or benefits like you would working for an investment bank. It’s really hard to get rich by being a game developer. If you don’t get your satisfaction from making fun games for players, you probably won’t last too long in the game industry.

The second interpretation is that a passionate candidate will be favored over one that isn’t. This is generally true but (thanks to the first interpretation) it is less about game development in general and more about the specifics because practically all of the candidates are passionate about game development in general. One common case is candidates who try to get QA positions in hopes of becoming game designers. Clearly they are passionate about game development or they would not have done this. However, in such cases we’re often looking for testers who are passionate about testing and how to do it better. Similarly, if we’re hiring for a graphics programming position, hiring managers would clearly favor somebody who cares deeply about rendering and performance optimization. Such expertise and interest should be clearly demonstrated during the interview.

Overall, this means that we hiring managers will generally expect a candidate who has sufficient passion for game development in general to seek a career in it, but will favor a candidate who exhibits passion in specific for the field and role we’re hiring for. The second quality is generally something candidates cannot easily fake since they are usually interviewed by experts in the field who are also passionate about the topic.

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