Deane Nettles | Advertising & Graphic Design



  1. Be creative, and use the assignments in this class towards being a better game designer. If I say “Draw your room,” draw a room that would make a great setting for a shoot-em-up. Or a realistic bathhouse for the epic fight between the twenty yakuza thugs and the blind samurai. If I say "draw a character," don't just scribble something to be done. Try variations. Every time you draw something, it will look better. There are millions of characters out there — try creating more than one of them. And then there's expression, and movement, and color and lighting...
  2. Learn to draw. You’re in a visual medium, and will be more effective if you can communicate visually. Take life drawing and sculpture (a 3-D medium). Learn anatomy. Watch how people and animals and clouds and trees and balls and other things move. Watch how light and shadow and color work. And learn how to observe so you can make your work realistic when that is required, or maybe cheat reality when reality is too computer-intensive. Montgomery College has art classes, and there are also inexpensive drawing, painting and sculpture classes at The Art League at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria.
  3. Don't just design at 1300x1300 pixels. Learn to design great things when you only have 15 TOTAL pixels to work with. The industry is changing, but you'll impress them if you can develop without requiring the customers to have a Wi-3 or an Xbox-720 — instead of an iPhone — to play it.
  4. Practice your skills. The difference between good and great is practice — and lots of it; Malcolm Cauldwell, in his book Outliers, estimates you need 15,000 hours of doing something before you are really good. At 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, that's about seven years. You want to be a killer programmer? Look for every opportunity to program and just do it.
  5. Figure out where you want to work and what you enjoy doing. You stand a better chance of working at Nintendo as a World Simulation Artist if you know that’s your goal. Look at the employment sites and try to find out what different people do.
  6. Play the industry's leading games A LOT. When you apply to a company for work, they will ask you at the interview what level you're at.
  7. Get an internship. Get work, for free if necessary, with the people you want to work with. (See #3.) Often, jobs don’t go to the most talented, but the ones with the best connections or most impressive resumes. (See #8.) Also, it gives you an opportunity to spend more hours learning what you need to learn (see #4.) Apply RIGHT NOW for a summer or winter internship at one of the local game designers listed below, and keep applying.
  8. Decide where you’re going to school NEXT. Get out of town. Unless you have a fabulous internship, you want to be going to school where everybody is great, and everyone is pushing to be better than THAT. Montgomery College can get you started, but try these schools for your final degree:

Seattle Central Community College, Seattle, WA
3-D Gaming Certificate and 3D Studio Max certificate
(There are a lot of high-end gaming companies in Seattle, including Microsoft)

CDIA-BU, Georgetown

Ringling College of Art & Design, Florida
Rated the Best Computer Animation Program in North America by the acclaimed 3D World magazine in 2007

CalArts, Valencia, California (near Los Angeles)
Animation and Character Development — with ties to Disney and Pixar

DigiPen, Seattle, Washington
Gaming, is tied with Nintendo
Also offers summer workshops

George Mason University is developing a gaming curriculum, heavily dependent on programming.
(Look at #683, but better to call and ask)

Escape Studios

Game Institute

Animation Mentor


EA-Mythic, Fairfax, VA

Bethesda Softworks, Rockville, MD

Big Huge Games, Timonium, MD

Breakaway Games, Hunt Valley, MD


Big Spaceship (Heavy-duty high-speed access required)

North Kingdom
(see and )

Also, games are not just about shoot-'em-ups. Games can also be used for education, and then there’s the whole area of Secondlife/virtual reality design.

The Electric Sheep Company, MD and NY

Games for Change

Games for Health


3D World — 3-D animation magazine out of Great Britain

Computer Graphics World

Game Developer Magazine

Develop Magazine

Dr. Dobbs Portal


Games Gateway (Local)
Meeting notes:
An organization of local heavy-hitters in gaming (developers, lawyers, educators) and gaming applications (healthcare, education, training). I learned more about the local industry in two hours than I could have in days of web searching. Dress is business casual — a button-up shirt and slacks rather than jeans.

Int’l Game Developers Association
• IGDA's resources on breaking into game development

Game Developer’s Conference



Can DIY Supplant the First Person Shooter?
NYT Magazine article

Independent Games Festival
"For the industry’s major studios, the Independent Games Festival is now a place to scout talent, to buy new games and to hire new designers." — NYT Magazine

A program for learning game programming through storytelling.




Blueberry Garden



Animation World Network


3D World — 3-D animation magazine out of Great Britain

Animation Insider

CG Society

Computer Graphics World

Creative Cow

Develop Magazine

Dr. Dobbs Portal

Game Developer Magazine

VFX World


Be aware that gaming is cyclical. Games take years to develop; several of those years don't require a lot of artists or programmers, and you can count on being laid off once the game you're working on is launched. So save a good portion of your income while you have a job, and be prepared to move from company to company or city to city to find work.

3D Jobs

3D World

Broadcast Freelancer

CG JobSearch

CG Society

Creative Heads

VFX Recruit