Despite the dismal economy, the video game industry is big and getting bigger. Boutique video game retailers like Gamestop forecast sales growth of 10-12% for 2009 (source: Marketwatch). This means that if you are looking for a job in the video game industry, now is the time.
But what would you do in the video game industry? What career path? Do you want to be into game art design? How about video game programming? Hey, do you want to be a video game tester?
Making a video game today is like making a movie. In fact, some video games have budgets as big as movies. Popular games like Halo or Star Wars take a couple of years to produce and require millions of dollars in budgets. But that’s okay because they come back ten times more.
What do video game creators spend their money on? Well, in a movie, for example, you hire actors, directors, camera crew, makeup artists, costume consultants, sound specialists, and other production staff. Video games are the same, except they hire people with very different and specialized talents.
What are video game jobs?
There are different types of jobs in the video game industry and some are entry-level that you can get after earning a degree from a video game design school. Look at the examples to be continued:
- Video game testers – Many of those who aspire to work in the video game industry already know this job. The responsibility is a bit more than the title led some to believe. In another software industry, this job is generally called Quality Assurance. Those who work as video game testers are the ones who stress tests on games, find bugs, and log them. They also provide feedback on the gameplay and anything else the developers and producers ask them to consider.
- 2-D Concept Artists – These guys almost always have an arts degree or a strong creative imaging portfolio, digital or not. They are artists and put their ideas on screen or on paper before actual work is done.
- 3-D character constructors – These jobs require someone with experience in rendering software. They get the experience from practical training or formal education, such as going to school for art and game design. They put together what the characters will look like, such as facial expressions, action poses, and of course, costumes. Video game character designers are responsible for bringing the cool of HALO’s SPARTAN armor and Lara Craft’s ultra-sexy figure.
- 3-D object modelers – Do you like how that Brute Plasma Rifle (Halo 2) looks? How about the new sharp Manslayer of the Qiraji, the Two-Handed Sword (World of Warcraft)? Well, the people we have to thank are the 3D object modelers who designed not only cool weapons that players can buy or search for, but also spaceships, tavern buildings, command consoles, cars, etc. Of course, this is another job that requires training or education in imaging software.
- Interactivity Designer – In any video game, there is always a way to reward the player. Whether it’s to slay the dragon, defeat evil demons, or defeat a horde of invading orcs, a player has to do something to beat the game. Even in open games like World of Warcraft, a mission has a reward at the end. Interactive game designers are responsible for setting the rules of the game to make the experience challenging and fun.
- Background artist – When walking through Raccoon City, did that scare you (Resident Evil)? And when you were running through the Flayer jungle on your way to Mephisto (Diablo 2), did you feel the humidity of the smoking tropical jungle? Well, the background artists’ job is to immerse the player in a new world that is experienced from a computer screen. It requires a lot of creativity and imagination. This job generally requires someone with an art degree or a strong portfolio in creative digital imaging. Some schools call their programs game art design degrees.
Of course, the above list is just a small group of creative works in creating a video game. For some of them, the necessary skills can be gained through experience, but many of the companies that hire for the position require a degree in game art and design or something similar. But researching the position you want to be in will help you a lot because it may have different requirements.