One of the pros (and cons, depending on who you ask) of being an indie developer is that you might find yourself working remotely. There are lots of lovely things about this. The commute is from your bed to your desk for instance, and you can pet your cat while you work. Also, no one will judge your taste in podcasts.
One of the disadvantages, however, is that you often find yourself feeling a bit isolated. Work Slack chat is great, but it’s no substitute for real interaction. Plus all those game development talks and events seem like so much more effort to go to when you’re already in your snuggly clothes and it’s cold outside. Perhaps more serious is the fact that all those connections made in the traditional office or studio environment are difficult to make from the confines of your flat, and it can be harder to develop real connections with influencers and press when you’re working quite independently. In this post, I’ll outline some tips and tricks for making sure you network even when you work from home.
Get out of the house
It seems obvious but the most straightforward way to avoid isolating yourself is to…get out of the house. Just because working in your pjs is the path of least resistance doesn’t mean it’s the best thing. Get in touch with other remote workers in your area and see if you can meet up for the day! I try to get out for at least a day a week to work somewhere other than the dining table. If you can access a coworking space where you live, they can be a great resource. Today I’ll be at the British Library, although I’ve been known to work in The Conduit from time to time. Timberyard is a great location if you’re in London. An added bonus: having someone else bring you coffee always feels like a treat.
Join an online community
One of the great things about working in games is that there are thriving communities online that can provide tremendous networking opportunities from your phone. The U.K. games industry Slack chat is an amazing resource, with events, jobs, and announcements. If you’re LGBTQ+ then Out Making Games has a brilliant Slack channel. The women in games mental health (WGMH) Discord server can provide excellent support and advice on all matters relating to career. The Game Writers Facebook group is a treasure trove of advice. These are just a sample of the rich ecosystem of digital communities out there.
Join a real-life community
There are loads of brilliant initiatives out there to help connect people in the games industry. Link Up Level Up is a great space for black gamers to meet regularly. Sally Hunt’s Women Making Games brunches are a staple of many social calendars in the North East. For those in the East of England, Game Anglia is an awesome organisation that provides support for game developers. There are also specific mentorship schemes such as Limit Break you can apply to that can give you a more structured networking opportunity.
Make the effort to go to things
The best way to network is still often face to face. Even if you aren’t part of a regular community, there may still be one-off events somewhere in your region. Payload Studios regularly host Tentacle Zone. Space Ape Games have hosted Games for Good and Devquest. UKIE are hosting Hub Crawl talks across the country (insert shameless plug for my panel talks in London and Cambridge). Games | Drinks | Scotland hosts regular events in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Dundee. London Games Festival is coming up soon, and of course, there’s always EGX, Rezzed, Develop, and many other conferences besides. These types of events often feel like a lot of effort before you go, but I’ve never regretted going the extra mile to attend.
Tweet up a storm
I’m a long time advocate for the benefits of social media (which is why you’ll often find me retweeting cute animal videos for the enjoyment of strangers). Actually though, gaming is an industry where there are lots of useful things on Twitter in particular. I know of multiple people (including myself) who successfully applied to job postings through the platform. Hannah Flynn, communications director of Failbetter, runs the extremely helpful Steam store page review service on a Wednesday morning. I have legitimately made some lovely friends in the industry thanks to initial contact on Twitter. Moreover, if you do meet people at an event, Twitter is often an excellent way to follow up with them later. A polite “lovely meeting you” or “really enjoyed your talk” will always be appreciated.
So there you have it, just because you work from home doesn’t mean you can’t network. There are lots of ways to get involved in games industry communities even without a physical office space.
If you want support in developing those much-needed connections with press and influencers, why not ask for help from an experienced PR and Marketing agency (hint hint)? You can rely on experienced industry veterans who have spent years building up those connections and networks to introduce your game to the right people in the right way.