Internships in the Video Game Development Industry

The USA has seen continuous growth in the number of study programs it offers in the field of video game development, and in the number of game development workplaces and/or studios that have emerged throughout the country. The competition for positions in respected game development studios has also increased in recent times. Internships in this industry are essential for overseas students seeking to optimize their education and build competitive resumes. This guide seeks to identify the many benefits of these internships, lists various ways to obtain an internship, and looks at some of the renowned companies that run internship programs for students.

It is necessary for any international student who is enrolled on a video game development program in the US and wants to maximize their educational opportunities to look for an internship in this field while simultaneously attending to their regular coursework. A lot of overseas students aspire to secure prized internships in reputable companies as a way of further enriching their experience of studying abroad, to optimize the investment they have made in education, and to enhance their credentials in the eyes of prospective employers. Indeed, potential employers tend to view internships as extremely important when considering job applications from graduates. It is usual for employers to give preference to candidates who have undertaken internships over those who have not done so.

There are many reasons for this such as:

  • Internships help to get newly-graduated candidates and students who are currently studying video game development into the industry and involved in it.
  • These placements help students get practical experience as a foundation for long-term careers.
  • Internships help students build their reputations in the field and provides them with networking opportunities, especially among prospective employers.

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In most cases, there are more steps involved for an international student trying to gain internships in the video games industry during school term or in their summer holidays than there are for non-students applying for these positions. Even so, if they are wise, these students will prepare well and start searching early on. This guide offers some useful tips to international students looking to secure an internship in the video gaming industry, and it also provides advice on some of the more prominent internship resources in this field.

Considering that there are a few extra steps and more documentation needed to secure placements in the video gaming industry, international students are advised to begin preparing their applications and to start searching as early on as possible, and they should remain vigilant for the duration of the process. Do not lose heart or be tempted to give the task up.

In order for overseas students to secure an internship, the very first step is making sure you have proper authorization from the government. It is essential to check with your college advisor to see if you are eligible to take up a position in the USA, particularly if you expect or hope to receive any grant or financial aid.

The next step involves applying for any internship you can identify provided these fits your particular criteria and field of study. Generally, US students submit as many as twelve (12) applications, but overseas students should submit a lot more applications if they are serious about securing an internship in the video games development industry. Many game development programs in US schools offer opportunities for internships as part of their study programs or with companies they have special agreements or relationships with. Very often, these schools or their game development departments provide information via their websites in respect of opportunities and criteria for internships. Consequently, taking a look at the information posted on these websites is an excellent means of identifying internship opportunities.

If, however, an overseas student is interested in an internship during their summer break, there is an additional route over and above the information provided on the website of the institution they are attending. First, there is a requirement that all internships for international students must comply with the government’s guidelines on CPT and OPT (Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training respectively). This means any internship an international student undertakes needs to be linked in some way to course credits. Despite this requirement, overseas students may still submit resumes with cover letters straight to any company or business they are interested in gaining experience with. Very often, these businesses will consider the applications they get from overseas students and will generally come to some arrangement with the applicant’s academic institution regarding course credits even when the internship is not arranged through that institution.

Below is a list of prominent corporate organizations that are known to offer internships in the field of video game development:

  1. EA Games: An internship in a company like EA Games is the realization of a dream for a lot of students. EA has studios at numerous locations including California (Los Angeles and Redwood Shores), Florida (Orlando), Utah (Salt Lake City), and Virginia (Fairfax). Internship opportunities are offered at each of these locations. Moreover, EA also provide a convenient online guide and database concerning its internships.
  2. Lucasarts: The internships at Lucasarts are paid and are available at two locations in California i.e. Nicasio and San Francisco. Lucasarts internships can mean good pay and free accommodation in its corporate-owned dormitories. Additional information is provided about the company’s internships on its website.
  3. Volition Inc: This company is based in Illinois (at Champaign) and it is a well-known name in the video games industry with many famous titles to its credit. Volition is a great option for internships as well as long-term/full-time jobs.

These essential tips and the list of resources for potential summer placements should help overseas students find a much-coveted internship. However, they will need to be prepared for competition. While looking for and applying for internships is a time-consuming process, the experience you get for your resume is invaluable.
If you are an international student thinking about coming to the USA to study the art of video game development, there are several factors to consider. Not only will the best places to study be those cities with highly rated degree programs, but you will also need to consider cities where there are plenty opportunities to obtain internships and make connections with prominent studios. This guide aims to identify those US cities that offer the best video game development study programs, the three main hubs for game development, and those where the number of game development studios is growing.

In most cases, foreign students working out where to study in the US will actually be attempting to prepare for a career with some of the world’s most respected and renowned games developers. With this in mind, you should be looking to study in cities that have more to offer than just the best academic programs and professors. This guide will recommend a few of the best places to learn how to develop video games, and it will attempt to give overseas students some advice on the most important factors to take into account when trying to decide where to study this exciting subject.

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Academic Curriculum and Rankings

If your main concern is that the name of a particular program is well recognized, the quality of a curriculum is renowned, or the program has a good reputation in the industry, those locations that offer the most reputable programs are likely to be the schools you should consider. Full Sail University in Winter Park in Florida is one such example. You should find this school is very positively perceived and offers a great program in the field of developing video games. In the event the state of Florida does not suit your preference, there are other choices of schools all over the US with good reputations. The Princeton Review and GamePro Magazine have evaluated and ranked what they consider the top schools in America for studying video game development. Below are a few of the schools that came top of their lists (shown by location and school name):

  1. Los Angeles (University of Southern California)
  2. Salt Lake City in Utah (University of Utah)
  3. Redmond in Washington (DigiPen Institute of Technology)
  4. East Lansing in Michigan (Michigan State University)
  5. Worcester in Massachusetts (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)
  6. Philadelphia in Pennsylvania (Drexel University)
  7. Burlington in Vermont (Champlain College)
  8. Rochester in New York (Rochester Institute of Technology)
  9. Worcester in Massachusetts (Becker College).

While the quality and reputation of an institution is certainly an important factor in deciding where to study for any type of degree it is, however, advisable for overseas students to additionally consider other aspects when trying to decide where to study game development. Considering, for example, that the nature of this field is quite technical, certain of the required skills are universally-applicable. Therefore, irrespective of where you study for your degree, a lot of the curriculum will be reasonably standard. That said, it is not purely by possessing certain skills that will help overseas students get job interviews in the video game development industry. Just as frequently, having undertaken an internship or having become acquainted with prominent employers and employees can make a huge difference in securing the job of your dreams after you graduate. It is therefore important to bear in mind that a well-chosen location will provide overseas students with access to those all-important internships and the opportunity to network with noted studios.

US Cities that are Noted for Video Game Development

A degree in video game development is not especially one that a student can use to maximum benefit in just any part of the US. There are certain locations that are seen as hubs for developing video games and for technology in general. The most prominent places for game development include Seattle, Washington DC, and Los Angeles, but several other cities are fast becoming noted for the growing number of game development studios that are springing up in them. This means these less well-known cities are excellent choices for anyone thinking of becoming a game developer. The list below shows some of the cities that are well worth consideration for any overseas students seeking to study video game development. The list shows the names of the cities along with the number of current development studios operating in them.

Name of City Number of Development Studios
Austin, Texas    61
Boston, Massachusetts    39
Chicago, Illinois    30
Dallas, Texas    23
Eugene, Oregon    4
Gainesville, Florida    3
New Orleans, Los Angeles    4
New York City    28
Orlando, Florida    12
Raleigh, North Carolina    13
Salt Lake City, Utah    11
San Diego, California    18
San Francisco Bay, California    121

From the above cities, some employ very large numbers of people in relation to their population numbers, while others merely have a growing number of respected video game development studios. Nevertheless, the list shows a number of cities that are thriving in respect of game development, and they are well worth considering for any overseas students looking outside the established hubs of Washington DC, Seattle, and Los Angeles.

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