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Careers in the Video Game Industry. It’s not all fun and games... ...but it’s better than a lot of other things I can think of. Tom Sloper. Lots of careers in games. Programming Art 2D Concept art 3D Animation Game Design Level Design Writing. Audio Producing Testing

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careers in the video game industry

Careers in the Video Game Industry

It’s not all fun and games...

...but it’s better than a lot of other things I can think of.

Tom Sloper

lots of careers in games
Lots of careers in games
  • Programming
  • Art
    • 2D
    • Concept art
    • 3D
    • Animation
  • Game Design
  • Level Design
  • Writing
  • Audio
  • Producing
  • Testing
  • Customer Support
  • IT
  • Marketing
  • Legal
  • Financial/accounting
types of companies
Types of companies
  • Publishers
    • Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, THQ...
  • Development studios
    • Pandemic, Savage, Naked Sky...
  • Platform holders
    • Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft...
  • Quality Assurance providers
    • iBeta, VeriTest, VMC...
big vs small companies
Big vs. small companies
  • Big companies – for experienced candidates only
    • Narrow specialization
    • Numerous specialties
    • Numerous departments or studio teams
    • Opportunities for lateral, diagonal, vertical movement
  • Small companies – good for beginners breaking in
    • Everybody wears numerous hats
    • Few departments/teams
    • Opportunities vary, but boy will you learn a lot!
programming
Programming
  • The most in-demand position, and the most demanding.
  • Requirements:
    • 4-year degree or better (CS preferred)
    • Solid portfolio (“demo disc”)
  • Salary: the highest in the industry (see GameCareerGuide Salary Survey); avg. $83K
  • Entry-level positions abound, mostly at smaller companies (don’t hold out for top companies only). Internships may be available
programming specialties languages etc
Programming specialties & languages, etc.
  • A.I.
  • Engine
  • Tools
  • 3D Graphics
  • Physics
  • Online/networked
  • Mobile
  • Web games, IPTV
  • C++
  • C#
  • Flash
  • Java
  • Brew
  • Scripting languages
  • Engines
slide7
Art
  • Also highly in demand, but very competitive
  • Requirements:
    • Art degree
    • Outstanding portfolio
    • Comfort with Photoshop, Maya, 3DS Max
  • Entry-level positions plentiful but don’t hold out for a job at one of the top companies – be willing to start small
  • Salary: avg. $67K
2d art
2D Art
  • Yes, 2D. User interfaces, mobile games, web games, textures
  • Requirements:
    • Art degree
    • Outstanding portfolio
  • Entry-level positions plentiful but don’t hold out for a job at one of the top companies – be willing to start small
concept art
Concept Art
  • Niche position, requiring extraordinary talent and style
  • Requirements:
    • Art degree
    • Exceptionally outstanding portfolio
    • Optional: film, comic book / graphic novel experience
  • The extraordinarily talented candidate might be able to get a full-time job making concept art for games. But mostly it’s freelancing...
3d art
3D Art
  • Highly in demand, but very competitive
  • Requirements:
    • Art degree
    • Outstanding portfolio
  • Entry-level positions plentiful but don’t hold out for a job at one of the top companies – be willing to start small
animation
Animation
  • Narrow specialty
  • Requirements:
    • Art degree
    • Outstanding portfolio (“demo reel”)
    • Knowledge of MoCap and Facial MoCap & other animation tools
  • Entry-level positions unlikely. The candidate may need to gain experience first in film, TV, commercial, or Web animation
game design
Game Design
  • Highly competitive position. It’s not what you think. (It’s not about “ideas.”)
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelors degree, liberal arts
    • Strong résumé (a lot of industry experience)
  • Entry-level positions do not exist. Game industry experience required. Usual entry paths: QA, Level Design, Programming
  • Salary – lower because of the high competition (the glamour and cachet of the title); avg. $64K
level design
Level Design
  • Very much in demand
  • Requirements:
    • One or more degrees: Art, Game Design, Programming, Architecture...
    • Outstanding portfolio (“demo disc”)
    • Comfort with 3DS Max and/or other level design tools
  • Entry-level positions exist, but the candidate must demonstrate proven ability to create levels that are fun to play. Internships may be available
writers
Writers
  • Demand vs. supply: many want to do it; few are qualified; few openings
  • Requirements:
    • Writing degree
    • Writing experience credits (film, episodic/dramatic TV, comic books, graphic novels)
  • Entry path: Writers for games are normally freelancers, not full-time employees. (Exceptions exist.)
  • Freelancing...
audio
Audio
  • Demand vs. supply
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelors degree
    • Audio experience credits (film, radio, TV, commercials, books on tape...)
  • Entry path: Audio engineers are often freelancers, not full-time employees. (Exceptions exist.)
  • Freelancing...
  • Average income: $73K
producing
Producing
  • Every project needs someone to manage the details, communication, expectations; only open to industry insiders
  • Requirements:
    • Bachelors degree a plus
    • Outstanding game industry experience
  • Entry-level positions do not exist. Most producers migrate into project management from other jobs: QA, programming, art, design, marketing, legal...
  • Salary – not as high as you might think; avg. $79K
testing quality assurance
Testing (Quality Assurance)
  • Demand vs. supply: testers are always needed; lots of people want to be testers; easiest entry path
  • Requirements: good communication skills; good technical skills; experience playing games
  • Opportunities for advancement: can be a good entry pathway, depending on company type. Best opportunities with smaller companies; no opportunities at independent test labs
  • Salary: the lowest in the industry; avg. $39K. And expect frequent layoffs
customer support
Customer Support
  • Demand vs. supply: not highly competitive. Openings may exist, when the position isn’t outsourced.
  • Requirements: candidate must be a helpful “people person” with excellent communication skills
  • Opportunities for a move into the studio: depends on the company and whether or not it has an internal game studio
  • I consider game masters as belonging to this category. Sometimes unpaid volunteers (but pay is available)
information technology
Information Technology
  • All big companies need IT (at small co., someone in engineering handles IT)
  • Requirements:
    • Degree
    • IT experience
  • Entry path: none (just apply at a large company)
  • Opportunities for a move into the studio: depends on the company. If there is an internal studio, may be possible to migrate into game creation
marketing
Marketing
  • Requirements:
    • Marketing degree
    • Marketing experience a plus
  • Entry path: apply when nearing completion of marketing degree. Internships a good way in. Experience in other industry? Apply!
  • Salary: avg. $73K
legal in house counsel
Legal (in-house counsel)
  • Requirements:
    • Law degree (contracts, IP)
    • Bar exam
  • Entry path: none (just apply at a large company). Internships a good way in
  • Opportunities for a move into the studio: Depends on the individual
financial accounting
Financial/accounting
  • Requirements:
    • Degree
    • A plus: CPA or MBA
    • Professional experience (good résumé and references)
  • Entry path: none (just apply at a large company)
  • Opportunities for advancement: managerial only (no movement into game creation is likely from here)
switching into games from another career
Switching into games from another career
  • More doable than you might think
  • Professional experience means a lot
  • Game degree not needed, but might help
  • Solid portfolio essential
  • The path of least resistance
switching jobs within the industry
Switching jobs within the industry
  • Doable but requires patience and serendipity
    • Depends on company type and structure
    • Depends on individual’s experience, cooperative/ collaborative attitude, and what the company needs
    • Individual must prove he’s capable, enthusiastic, hard-working. Self-driver who’s not afraid to seek assistance and learn
  • Realistic approach required; willingness to do whatever is needed
slide25

The Egg

  • The egg is “the game industry.”
  • The yolk is whatever job it is that YOU want.
  • Moving around in the egg white is comparatively easy.
  • Getting into the yolk takes time.
  • The really hard part is getting inside the shell in the first place.
job vs indie vs lone wolf vs startup
Job vs. Indie vs. Lone Wolf vs. Startup...???
  • Many seem to think they have to start a company right out of high school or college!!!
  • Indie (or modding) is good preparation for Job.
  • Job is best preparation for Startup
    • Experience
    • Contacts
    • Maturity
    • Money
  • Lone Wolfdom is only for the exceptionally accomplished Renaissance Man
the keys to breaking in
The keys to breaking in
  • Location, location, location
  • Realistic targeting
  • Research, research, research
  • Networking
  • Solid portfolio (body of work)
resources
Resources
  • Sloperama.com – yellow zone
  • IGDA.org (job aspirants, professionals)
  • GameDev.net (indies and lone wolves)
  • GameCareerGuide.com (students, wannabes)
  • Introduction to Game Development (Rabin)
  • Secrets of the Game Business (Larramée)
  • Game Design Workshop (Fullerton)