Matthew Jeffery, head of recruitment for Electronic Arts U.K., reads the game industry's major U.K. publications and web sites with a grain of salt. Despite the buzz about a painful lack of game developers available for hire, Jeffery says Europe has all the talent it needs - hiring companies are just looking in the wrong places and using the wrong means to find it.
Jeffery presented his thoughts at a talk at the London Games Summit today titled "The Future of Games Recruitment: The U.K. a Talent Pool in Crisis?" The EA businessman refutes the question in the lecture's title adamantly, arguing that the size and quality of the U.K. talent pool, and indeed the rest of Europe as well, is not at all in dire straits. "These are wrong claims to make," he says.
As the head of all European recruitment for EA, including the studio in Chertsey and Criterion/EA Tech. (makers of Black and Burnout), Jeffery knows first-hand the true challenges recruiters face. What Jeffery suggests is that hiring companies be more flexible and look for talent outside of the pool of experienced game developers, a group that may indeed be shrinking, especially against the needs of next-generation gamemakers whose hiring over the past year or so has been dramatic. The payoff will be greatest "for those companies willing to be flexible," he says.
"I will say this loudly and unequivocally: Europe holds the most potential talent," Jeffery says. The problem in hiring this talent is knowing where to look, for example, expanding into sectors such as defense or space programs to find people who have advanced skills in AI. "As an industry, we have to be open to hires from other sectors," while tactfully inducting these new recruits into the "peculiar ways that we sometimes develop."