5 Careers for Anyone Considering a Job in Game Development
Education and Careers Video games continue to evolve as an art form and as an industry. The number of unique career paths this diversification has opened within game development is significant.
While video games have been around for several decades now, they continue to capture the imagination of consumers worldwide and their revenue has long surpassed both the film and music industries combined.
This isn’t just a teenage obsession anymore; according to the Entertainment Software Association’s 2015 Essential Facts about the Game Industry, the average age of a gamer in the U.S. is 35 years old, and 44 percent of those players are women. Indeed, gamers under the age of 18 comprise only 26 percent of the gaming population.
With a projected healthy expansion of the industry in the foreseeable future, especially in emerging markets where game consumption is experiencing double-digit growth, the game development profession has never been so vital.
This popularity has led many to consider a career in game development. Between the plethora of platforms (consoles, mobile devices, PC, etc.) and diverse types (casual games, role-playing games, adventures, first-person shooters, etc.), individuals can choose from many unique roles that contribute to creating a game. Some of the more prevalent roles and paths are as follows:
1. Game designer/Programmer
Every game needs a designer who conceives an overall idea for a game and the play mechanics. Often enough, designers have the programming skills to implement and test their ideas, or they partner with great coders who can help them.
2. Narrative designer/Artist
Most games have a core story or plot, and it’s the role of the narrative designer to bring the game world to life. They work closely with artists who visualize every aspect of the world, the characters, environments, objects, etc.
3. Quality Assurance (QA)/Localization
While sometimes seen as a secondary task, QA is vitally important to ensuring the games are playable without bugs and work as designed. The tremendous emphasis on global growth makes localization—or adapting the game content for other languages and cultures—essential.
Other roles in game creation include the support of experts in other areas like project management, production, public relations, marketing, legal, accounting, human resources and other key functions.
5. Independent developer
One of the fastest growing roles in the game industry is the indie developer. These are often multi-skilled individuals who work solo or in small, lean teams, producing and releasing their own games. Like independent filmmaking, indie games have shown incredible imagination and revealed new ways that games can be used to tell stories, evoke emotion and casually educate players.
Like all the industries, the game business has its share of challenges, such as long working hours and a need for greater diversity. But for those with the passion and skills, it can be a fun and rewarding career on the cutting edge of an evolving media art form.