Getting a job in the gaming industry is the holy grail for some people, but it seems so far out of reach. You don’t often see jobs being advertised, so you can’t always take the traditional path into your new career. Gaming is one of the fastest growing industries out there, and it shows no sign of slowing down; by 2019 the video game business will have an estimated value of $118.6 billion. Huge success stories in gaming are commonplace. GTA V, for example, made its first billion in just three days and went on to be the biggest-selling entertainment product ever. Gaming started out as a relatively alternative hobby, but now it has become a mainstream industry that makes billions of dollars every year. Lack of jobs isn’t an excuse; there are plenty of positions out there, you just need to find them.
Gaming companies are looking for creative, innovative employees who can think outside the box. They don’t want somebody who will write the same cardboard cutout job application as everybody else. If you want to break into the gaming industry, you’ll have to be a bit cleverer than that to catch their attention. For those of you that go to bed every night, dreaming of working on video games, here are a few ways that you can get your foot in the door.
What Jobs Are Out There?
The majority of people that aspire to work in the gaming industry are talking about developing the actual games themselves. There are so many different aspects involved in developing a game, so you’ll need to decide which area you want to focus on.
Being an animator is one of the most popular jobs. You will be responsible for bringing the game to life, and turning it from static images, into a living breathing world that you can get lost in. Animators work in close proximity with the programmers and the artists that create the visuals.
The programmer is the person that does all of the background stuff that the artist and animator then lay their visuals over the top. Think of the programmer as the brain, while the animator is the body. As a programmer, you will be responsible for writing the code that defines the mechanics of the game and makes it work.
Once you’ve got the world and a character to live inside it, the mantle will be passed on to the audio engineer. This is the person that is responsible for creating and adding all of the various sounds to the game.
These jobs are quite technical and focus on very specific areas that come together to create a finished game. If these positions aren’t for you, that doesn’t mean you should be looking at other industries. There are other jobs that are more geared towards bigger picture thinking. The game designer is the person that creates the general idea for the game, nailing down the concepts, and then passing it on to the programmers and animators to make their vision a reality.
Sales & Marketing
You may even want to work on the other side of the business, separate from the creation of the games themselves. If you are interested in video games, but you are not attracted to a tech job, then think about working on the marketing side of a games company. You’ll still be at the forefront of the gaming industry, but in a role that is a bit more suited to your skills.
Do It Yourself
If there is something in there that interests you, then a job in the gaming industry is probably for you. So how do you get there? If you’re lucky, you might find a suitable position advertised. Apply for it and you might end up landing your dream job. Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work like that in the gaming industry. You need to be a lot more proactive, and put yourself out there.
Don’t wait around for somebody to give you a job developing games for their company, just start doing it. That way you can prove to prospective employers that you are capable of doing the job well. Learn how to make an app for your own Android phone and put it up online. You never know who might see it, and if it’s good enough, you might get offered a job off the back of it.
In the current climate, you don’t necessarily need to work for somebody else anymore. Get together with a few friends that are also interested in the gaming industry, and make some games. You can post them on discussion boards for free, to begin with. It’s a great way to get a bit of exposure and start making a name for yourself. Once you have a proven record, you can start charging and before you know it, you’re working as a game developer. Even if you do want to work with a larger developer, making games gives you valuable experience that can help you get a leg up on the competition.
Entry Level Positions
One of the gaming jobs that you will find advertised is games testing. Playing video games and getting paid for it might sound like the best thing ever, but remember, you will be looking for bugs. It’s not a case of just playing through the game and collecting your check, and it can get a bit dull at times, but it’s a brilliant path into a career in the industry. A lot of developers started out as testers, so see what you can find. Once you have a job in the company, make it known that you have a bit of knowledge, and you are keen to get more involved in developing the games.
Obviously, you need some qualifications. If you are passionate about a job in the gaming industry, it is likely that you are already studying something relevant. There are specific gaming related college courses out there, but you don’t necessarily need one of those. Most companies want a degree, but they aren’t specific about which one, as long as you learn skills that could be useful in the gaming world.
If you are clever about it, you could be making the games that you love, instead of just playing them.