The question of the day is:
Do you hold out for the dream studio or get in where & when you can?
Pretty fair question that seems to have a simple answer right? Wrong! Where jobs, career & life choices come into play, there are no easy answers.
It all hinges on what your current circumstances, experience and motives are. If its money & experience you need, then yes, grab for low hanging fruit. Even though you may feel you’re compromising on bigger dreams, you’ve got to start somewhere. Even smaller, less well known (or accomplished) studios can have a silver lining. You’ll still gain valuable experience (not to mention the experience or probability of having to wear multiple creative hats) and making some money, but at least it’s “preparing” you & your portfolio just the same. Not to mention that while you’re at a smaller studio, you can still keep your options open towards looking. However, you don’t just want to jump ship at the first sight of land in regards to a larger studio opportunity. If you’re in the middle of a production and fairly “critical path,” leaving your small dev is not always advised. It’s still a small industry and word about your lack of commitment can get out! Besides that, larger studios may also be concerned that you’ll do the same to them, hurting your chances to acquiring a stable position in their “seemingly” secure halls.
If you have more experience and the financial nest egg to hold out for a more competitive studio/position, that’s great as well (especially if you’re tailoring your resume & portfolio with studios that have influential credibility). Whatever the case, understand that any hiring manager (large or small studio) is inevitably going to look at the number of studios you’ve worked for and how long you were at each. While “studio hoping” was a fairly accepted practice back in the mid ’90’s, it’s a bad practice these days.
It goes right back to the “commitment” factor (or lack thereof) giving pause to any hiring studio that may see it (you) as an investment risk.
So in the end, get a job creating game content where you can and really try and give it a fair shake. Stay with a studio for no less than one title/production cycle (so you at least have something to show for your time & skills invested there).
Like anything in life, your “commitment” factor is just as important to a hiring studio as is your competencies and talents.
In conclusion, get in where you can, stay there and become a sponge by way of soaking up knowledge and experience, then consider venturing out. You’ll ultimately be more armed & equipped with greater competitiveness, competencies and commitment prowess if you do! Making you a more attractive creative and new hire anywhere!