Richard Wilson
Richard Wilson

Member Article

Planning for growth in the UK games industry

Dr Richard Wilson, CEO of TIGA talks about the future of the UK games industry, and ensuring a flow of talent.

The video games industry has specific recruitment needs to suit the ebb and flow of the game production cycle. Many game development studios work on a project to project basis with varying levels of fulltime and contract employees, and can live or die by the success – or lack thereof – of a prior release. Large budget game failures have been known to sink entire studios whereas smaller studios are equally dependent on a quick hit to secure financial stability. Therefore, knowing how to attract, build and maintain a loyal workforce of talented developers is crucial not only to success, but to survival itself.

To help start-ups and small companies get the best out of recruitment, TIGA, the trade association that represents the UK games industry, has teamed up with video games recruitment specialist Interactive Selection and industry veterans to compile a Best Practice Guide for Recruitment and Selection in the Games Industry. Here we outline some of the simple aspects of preparation and planning to get the recruitment process off to a flying start.

To instigate an effective recruitment process, it is advisable to first implement some simple HR policies and practices that will be of benefit to existing staff members.

Modern work practices such as mentoring schemes, flexible working conditions and career break schemes are becoming more familiar across the industry as a way of maintaining employee satisfaction. Ensuring that current employees are acutely aware of the career development paths open to them – through internal advertisements for new jobs and the opportunity to develop new skills – will help to keep people motivated. Putting these policies in place is integral to employee retention but will also pay dividends when it comes to recruiting new employees.

It is not uncommon for companies to create a mission statement or an official company ethos which not only reflects the camaraderie they wish to encourage in the business but also emphasises HR issues including those raised by Dignity at Work legislation. Jagex, an independent games developer and TIGA member, for instance, has articulated a set of company values – including expertise, accountability and integrity – which it prints onto the back of name badges so that every member of the team knows what is expected of them. It is small, idiosyncratic gestures like this that can make an important difference when vying for the attention of a talented developer.

Implementing policies as identified above is the first step to building a solid foundation for recruitment. Yet the devil is in the detail.

Before a company can advertise for new talent it is essential that there is a structure in place to deal with the logistics of interviewing candidates. Some studios have a policy of paying for all interview expenses while others will choose only to pay expenses of those invited back for a second interview. While it may seem like an expensive process, it is far cheaper to pay expenses for the purpose of ascertaining the suitability of a candidate than it is to employ an unsuitable candidate. Whichever route a company chooses it is vital that the policy is understood by all involved and that any expenses be paid promptly. Relocation expenses for UK and international candidates must also be figured into overall recruitment costs.

With these practices in place, companies can work towards advertising the job roles they wish to fill. Job specifications are one of the most important parts of the recruitment process as it is the first contact that a company will have with potential candidates. Knowing exactly what is needed for specific projects and adapting to the changing needs of the company and the wider success will be crucial to recruitment success.

Many studios, including Rebellion in Oxford, run formal employee referral schemes in which existing staff are incentivised to recommend former colleagues and other developers. It helps to increase staff engagement with the future and growth of the company and has been proven to be a very successful method of recruiting new talent. After all, developers know best what it takes to succeed in the industry.

Although start-ups and small companies will not be involved in the continual recruitment drives with which some of their larger competitors are concerned, there are some basic principles of HR and recruitment that we believe can enhance the way they address their staffing needs. As a result of the tax breaks that will be coming into force next year, the UK games industry is primed for investment and growth. Putting in the groundwork and planning now will ensure that studios will be ready to cope with the demands of recruitment in a rapidly growing industry.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Richard Wilson .

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