I had just gotten back from a year-long trip around the world and was looking for a new, creative project to work on. Up to that point, I had spent my entire 20+ year career in games in AAA and corporate America and had long wanted to experience life from inside an indie game developer. So, I started looking for a job in indie games.
I soon found there was no central location for people to find work in indie games. Instead, I had to browse through 1,000s of indie developer websites, hope they had a careers page, and get super lucky to be viewing it during one of the rare windows in which their small team was hiring. And then, of the handful of roles they had open, there was a slim chance that one of them was related to my field.
Or, maybe I would get lucky because I knew someone. Or, because I happened to be scrolling Twitter at the precise moment a studio I was following tweeted about an open role.
It seemed impossible. And if it was impossible for someone like me, with a large network of indie devs and 20+ years of experience in games, just imagine how daunting that would be for most anyone else, let alone those that were just getting started, outside of, or underrepresented in games.
And if just the act of discovering jobs in indie games was this hard, that meant indie developers were missing out on a bunch of talented people simply because it was so much easier to find a job in AAA or other industries. (Let's not forget, job hunting is already super hard, emotionally draining, and time consuming.)
And worse yet, that meant that all of us indie gamers wouldn't get to play the incredible and creative games that these people would have made.
This realization hurt. It cause me physical pain. It wasn't good enough. Not for my favorite part of the game industry and all the indie developers that I knew and loved.
So, I made Work With Indies. It's a place where people who ❤️ indie games can find people that are creating them, and Make Games, Together.
. . .
But, why another job board? Or better yet, why didn't a job board exclusively for indie games already exist?
There are 2 really good reasons:
Reason #1: There are, in fact, many great job boards for video games. But they're not very friendly or useful to indie developers.
It's pretty hard for an indie and their 1 or 2 job openings to stand out in a crowd of 10,000 AAA job openings (Ubisoft frequently has 1,000+ on their own). It's even harder when many of those job boards are pay-to-win where companies with bigger budgets can buy premium placement and access to email lists, social posts, etc.
Oh, and did we mention that most job listings start around $250? We're not mad at that price tag. We think it's well worth it when you consider how time consuming and expensive it is to find and hire good people. Not to mention the opportunity cost and burn rate of your team when a role that might otherwise be open for months. It's just that $250 is already well out of budget for many startup indie developers.
Sure, there are free options (like Reddit) out there too. But that has the reverse problem of trying to find the actually good jobs among a haystack of rev share offers and Telegram phishing scams.
Reason #2: A job board for indie-games is a horrible business. 😅
Operating a quality job board isn't easy. It requires a team. And teams are expensive. So, when building a job board, you should probably target a big industry with lots and lots of job openings from companies that spend lots and lots on hiring. You'd want to focus your efforts on companies that can afford not just $250 per job listing, but after all the upsells, upwards of $1,500 and beyond.
In other words, you'd have to be crazy to build a job board exclusively for a small group of indie game developers with only occasional job openings and traditionally limited budgets.
Or, you'd have to really, really care. Spoiler alert:
. . .
We really, really care. And, indie games deserved better.
So, we set out to create an indie-friendly job board that is easy to use, affordable, and exclusive to indie games.
The person posting a role to our website is often a studio CEO... who also happens to be their lead programmer or animator... who might also be dabbling in audio design... and doing finance... and biz dev... and wearing a few other hats as well. In other words, they have much better things to do (like, make a whole entire game for us to play) than spend onerous amounts of time on a job board.
Which is why we made our job board super simple and easy to use.
There are no accounts to create. Pricing isn't hidden behind a log-in. And you don't even have to fill in the details of each job listing.
The ability to submit a link to your job description and have it magically appear on a job board*? You saw that here first.
*By magic, I mean me manually copying, pasting, editing, and formatting + finding additional relevant info from the developer's website for every job we've ever posted so our developers didn't have to do it themselves.
Putting your job listings on auto-pilot through a monthly subscription where we monitor your careers page and add, delete, and edit roles as you do? That's another Work With Indies innovation.
And we already talked about affordability. Which is why our listings start at $49. Optionally, for those developers that have released a game or two or more, they can choose to pay $99 or $199 to help support the job board and maintain our low entry-level price for indies that are just getting started. After all, we were all there once.
You also don't have to worry about dealing with a bunch of upsells. Newsletter features, social posts, pushing your listing to 900+ partner Discord servers (another first) – that's all included at no extra cost.
And if you find yourself in need of some additional exposure? We host events promoting indie devs and their job openings in our Discord. Then, we spend hours creating recaps to share across our channels. And where others might change thousands for this service, once again, we've done all that for free.
Like I said, super easy and indie-friendly.
. . .
We also care deeply about both our job seekers and job creators. We feel a great responsibility for their respective experiences, not just on our website, but well after they've left.
We care deeply about the candidate experience. That starts with high quality and informative job descriptions. It continues into their experience applying for jobs, interviewing, and joining their new teams.
To date, we've offered assistance to our developers through highlighting best practices and examples, as well as through 1:1 coaching on an as-needed and as-requested basis. We plan to offer more support in these areas soon.
We care deeply about the employer experience. This is where we've spent much of our additional effort to date. We've invested heavily* into our community, sharing information and resources, and even providing individual feedback to help our job seekers become better candidates.
When our indie studios tell us we're consistently the source of their best candidates, that's because of our community.
*Over 90% of our lifetime revenue has been reinvested back into our community.
And it seems to be working.
We've helped people break into the game industry for the first time, level up into more challenging and higher paying roles, and escape negative situations for more positive work environments. We've also helped studios close hard-to-fill roles, diversify their teams, bring their art into the world, and get entirely new studios off the ground.
We're helping people improve their lives through their careers while spreading joy through all the new indie games that they create. And that all feels pretty good. So, I guess we'll just keep going.
Thank you all for your support. If we've made any positive contributions to indie games, it is because of and through you. We can't do any of it without you.
We appreciate you.