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We take a closer look at the team behind GamesIndustry.biz Academy on how they are creating a guides section for anyone working in video games, and those who aspire to join them.

Knowledge, as they say, is power and sharing knowledge makes everyone that bit more powerful. One of the many benefits of the internet is it has become an unparalleled suppository for knowledge about everything imaginable, but that can make finding what you need to know a little challenging.

As such, many outlets aim to create their own online libraries of useful information and articles - like our very own Resource Hub - in order to help people find the answers they’re looking for. One such resource is the GamesIndustry.biz Academy.

The team behind the long-running B2B publication refer to this initiative as its “guides section”: an area of the website with articles on everything from getting started in the games industry or choosing an engine for your game to marketing advice, investment tips and guidelines on pitching to publishers. The Academy is split into three key areas: making games, selling games and working in games, and all articles are either written by the site’s journalists or established professionals from across the industry.

Christopher Dring, head of games B2B at GamesIndustry.biz parent ReedPop, discusses the Academy’s origins:

Chris
 

"[We] always did little guides like this, but they were frequently lost. We run an event called the Investment Summit, and for every single event we did, we'd write a new 'guide to getting investment.' It felt strange just doing the same article every time, so we started taking the previous article, enhancing and updating it, and putting it back out there. We also did guides frequently for jobseekers around our Career Fairs.”

“The idea for the Academy actually stemmed from someone in our wider company, Jon Hicks, who suggested we could do our own 'guides' section -- akin to the games guides [and walkthroughs] that appear on Eurogamer, our sister site.”

“This struck a chord with us. We often get pitched things about games tech and advice pieces, and we've not always felt they fit with what GamesIndustry.biz writes about. We felt this could be interesting, and the idea spiralled - to the point where we realised we needed our own standalone guides writer.”

That writer is Marie Dealessandri, who is responsible for not only writing much of the Academy’s content, but also ensuring it runs smoothly and is frequently updated.

Marie
 

“I collaborate very closely with industry partners on guest content, as well as freelance writers and of course my colleagues at GamesIndustry.biz, to make sure we have a continuous stream of articles and have myself written dozens of in-depth guides for the section,” she explains.

Dealessandri joined the team in October 2019, ahead of the Academy’s launch, helping to create new articles while the project was in stealth mode. She wrote 13 new guides, and helped repurpose previously published ones to fit the new Academy style -- broken down into digestible sections with clear takeaways. When the Academy launched in January 2020, there were 77 guides available to read. Today, that number is around 350, and constantly growing with multiple new guides published every week.

The breadth of articles is hard not to overstate: there are guides that target everyone from students hoping to one day become game developers to CEOs leading some of the industry’s biggest companies. The goal, says Dealessandri, is to be “the go-to resource for games industry workers of all types and seniority.”

“Depending on the article, we could be targeting students looking for support on how to approach their first job interview in the industry, or a head of studio wondering how to make their workplace more inclusive,” she explains. “We also target a wide range of occupations, whether you're a programmer, a QA technician or a creative director. The Academy is for anyone who works in games or has the ambition to.”

“While there's an increasing number of websites providing resources about working in games, there is still a lack of transparency about many aspects of the field. There's always a divide between what you think a job is going to be and what it actually is. The Academy ideally would be able to close that gap and provide guidance for people hoping to join the industry.”

While one might assume this is most useful for those looking for a way into the industry, Dealessandri is keen to emphasise the importance of established professionals not only learning more about the industry they working in, but assessing their own practices and processes in order to improve it.

“There's a real need to evolve as an industry to be more inclusive, diverse, welcoming, and progressive,” she says. “My hope is that the Academy can provide resources that lead to these things. We've published a number of in-depth guides promoting healthier and more inclusive ways to work, on topics such as mental health, neurodiversity, burn out, crunch.”

“I also see the Academy as a prime place to showcase the diversity of people working in games and contribute to providing diverse role models to aspiring devs. It's an idea I've supported in many pieces I've written but in particular was brought forward by Ustwo Games' Mike Anderson in an article about the barriers facing Black people in the games industry: you can't be what you can't see. So being able to use this platform to feature a diversity of voices who will potentially inspire more young people to join the industry is very important to me, and very much needed in the games industry in general.”

But why is there a need for such a resource? The industry is constantly sharing knowledge through the plethora of conferences held around the world every year -- from major events like GDC and Gamescom to more local affairs like Develop:Brighton and the UKIE Hub Crawls. In fact, Dealessandri says these can be a gold mine for the Academy as talks from industry experts can be written up to become guides of their own.

While Dring acknowledges there are other guides resources out there -- and GamesIndustry.biz often works with them to help share them with a broader audience -- for many of the things the Academy covers, there isn’t an established font of knowledge as you might expect.

“The games industry is at the forefront of art and technology, and as a result a lot of games people are doing things nobody has done before,” he says. “That's hard. But once they've gone through that process, once we've spent a few months learning how to promote games in TikTok or spent a few years learning how to make, and how not to make, VR games, then comes the time to share those learnings so we can move even faster.”

So far, the Academy is off to a great start. Some of the 300+ guides available have proven to be very popular with students and industry professionals alike, with Dealessandri telling us that highlights include a series on game engines, guides to finding a job in the games industry, and one on releasing a game on Steam

“These articles are regularly updated to remain relevant and they're always a hit whenever a new entry is published,” she says. “Our big guides on important issues such as neurodiversity or mental health are also typically very successful. But there have been so many popular subjects so far that it's difficult to figure out whether there's a common thread between them.”

“We've also had some great successes with guest content as well. For instance, this piece on telling story through gameplay in Grindstone, this long read about the localisation process of Disco Elysium, or this post-mortem of Sackboy's music levels.”

Constantly expanding and updating the Academy section is no easy task. As Dealessandri observes, there’s always more knowledge to share, more important topics to bring to the forefront, and only so much time and resource to put into the guides’ creation.

“The in-depth pieces that we tend to publish take a lot of time so it's difficult to find the right balance between keeping the site running in an efficient way and making sure important discussions or topics are being showcase,” she says.

“Access to the bigger companies can also be an issue to some degree. Resources like the ones we are trying to put together gain even more relevancy if big studios open their doors, are transparent about their process and are willing to change too. We have good relationships with many AAA studios but I wish more would open their doors and help us provide educational content for people just starting in games or guidance for younger studios.”

“Most of these challenges can be overcome with just a bit of tenacity and a lot of patience though. We're playing a long game here, we want to publish articles that remain relevant in the long term, so most of the time it works better to just take our time to do things right rather than rush to publish something. Which is a massive privilege for a games publication!”

Dring adds: “The scope of the Academy is so broad that it's impossible to cover everything. When we started we dreamed of having definitive guides to all the jobs that exist in games. This turned out to be such a huge project that it's become an ongoing thing, instead. Another is what I suggested above... things are changing so quickly. How games are bought, sold, promoted, made... there's constantly something new to navigate. Over the last year, how people are recruited has changed.”

“Our main way of working through this is by having a network of contributors and experts, and letting the industry know that we are open to submissions so they can share their wisdom with the GamesIndustry.biz audience.”

Dealessandri is responsible for working with developers, publishers and other industry professionals who wish to contribute something to the Academy, and while she is often asked what she is looking for, she notes that this is an impossible question to answer given the scope of the Academy. Instead, she invites professionals to write on any subject they are passionate about and that, crucially, someone else can learn from.

“The best partners are companies or individuals who just truly want to share their knowledge because they want others to succeed or they want the industry to be a better place,” she says. “I can always tell when people secretly just want to promote their own business, and this usually isn't successful for anyone involved.”

“I'd also love to work more closely with universities too, and really help bridge that gap between students and professionals of the games industry.”

So with the Academy firmly established, what does the future hold? The site has already expanded beyond written content with podcasts, special themed months -- most recently, Get A Job In Games, which ran throughout July -- and even full events. For example, last year saw the debut Academy Live, a digital-only event designed primarily for students, inviting them to learn from experienced industry professionals -- including surprise industry legends in special Zoom Q&A sessions. There are plans to run a physical version at games expo EGX in London this October, with two more digital events happening before the end of the year and a US version in the works.

Beyond that, Dealessandri is keen to continue bringing more industry knowledge to the site, especially if developers and publishers are willing to help out more directly.

“I can't emphasise enough how welcome people are to reach out to the Academy,” she says. “The section is really here to serve industry professionals or those looking to enter it, so get in touch and tell me about the topics that do truly matter to you - because as much as I'm working very closely with industry peers, I'm not the one who's making or selling video games, so there's potentially a ton of stuff I will never guess. Reach out, tell me what matters to you, and let's get talking.”
 



You can find the GamesIndustry.biz Academy here.

Email academy@gamesindustry.biz if you would like to contribute.

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