Mommy's Best Games, Inc. is an independent game developer founded in 2007. Our seventh game, currently in development, is Pig Eat Ball on which we started working in 2013. This is behind the scenes thoughts about game development and marketing.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Interns. For Great Justice

So you've made a few games, and made some money, but now you have a business growth decision. Do you stick with your one-man gig and keep creating the same size games over the same period of time, or do you try and hire someone else to help. It could put a real strain on things to hire your first full-time employee, or it could really broaden and speed up your game development.

Consider hiring an intern first!
An internship gets described a lot of ways, but basically it's on the job training for less pay. So you may be thinking "Oh boy, cheap labor--I'm all over that!" It's more work than that. What you save in money, you make up for in time spent instructing, but ultimately it benefits everyone involved.

Our first intern--he picked up coding in a snap!
With an intern, as opposed to a newly hired, professional employee, you'll have to educate them, and work with them a lot more. They will likely not have as much skill or experience as what you'd expect or hope. But the good news is, they usually can make up for lack of experience, with willingness to work and learn.

To start looking for an intern, check out your nearest college, approach the CS or Art department (probably by phone or email, but just walking into random offices will turn heads too). A lot of colleges now have areas more focused on game development, sometimes they may have game development courses, or are teaching art classes focused on 3D modeling. Talk to a "career development office", or to the heads of the respective departments about interns available for hire. It depends on the college, as some places are more aggressive and robust than others.

Keep in mind you're hiring a student, and you will usually be working around their schedules (and semesters). For instance, we had an student work for MBG from May to mid-August, and we now have a different student working from August to December. Don't be afraid to turn down a potential intern--do proper interviews, and ask about any previous work, and what classes they've had. You'll be looking for someone, essentially who you think can learn quickly, and has had at least some experience in class or in hobbies (game demos are good!). It also helps when they are very eager to work with you on games!

Basically "temporary on-the-job training" gets called a lot of things like "internship", "apprenticeship", "coop", or "externship". The college you approach may have different possible versions available. They may also require a certain number of hours that the student work. Check with your CPA about tax issues (we have to pay federal and state withholding, and Social Security for the students). You may also need to fill out a report for the college at the end detailing what work the student did and how they performed.

Just another day at the home office

The work can often be flexible, depending on what you can arrange with the student and the school. The hours could be part-time, full-time, or they could work from home, or come into the office, or both.
Interns are a great way to get very enthused help with your small game development business for low cost, high personal reward through mentoring, and the potential for a great employee when they graduate!

Northeastern University in Boston seems to be really aggressive regarding co-ops and internships. If you're in the area, make sure to check it out!
J. B. Speed School of Engineering in Louisville, Kentucky is from where I've been getting some great students.

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