Starting a Career in the Video Games Industry

Do you love playing video games? Believe it or not it’s actually possible to turn that passion into a career. There are a number of exciting opportunities to get a degree in video game design, programming, quality assurance and more.

Interested in learning more? Here are several possible video game career options with some tips to get started.

Video Game Designer

If you’re a creative person with a good eye for art and a passion for video games, it’s worth looking at studying video game design. There are a number of great programs online that can provide training in this field, and it’s even possible to earn a full degree in the subject. There are courses in animation, graphic design, storytelling and more.

In this career you can design character models, maps, landscapes, and all of the other beautiful visuals in modern video games. Alternatively if you’re more of a creative writer, you can focus on writing the great stories and plot lines that are at the heart of many games. There are even some game designers that focus specifically on making sure games are well-balanced. If you’re a real ‘people person’ there’s the option to be a game design manager, coordinating the communication both inside and outside of the team.¹

With such an abundance of video game design job options, it’s easy for people of many different personalities to find something of interest. However, given the competitive nature of the field, it’s wise to look into a degree or similar training program to get started.

Video Game Developer

If you’d consider yourself a technical, mathematical, or logical type of person then it’s worth looking into becoming a video game developer.

As a game developer, you are the one who truly ‘makes’ a game. You will become deeply familiar with the programming languages and software used to create video games. One of the nice things about being a video game developer is that you’re able to work in a number of different environments. It’s possible to work for a huge and well-known gaming studio or just a small group of indie developers. It’s even possible to work alone and create a game with you as the lead developer.

There are many schools offering programs in applicable fields like computer science, software engineering, data analysis and programming. There are also universities and colleges now offering specific degrees in game development, mobile game development, simulation programming and game technology.²

It’s worth mentioning that the game development industry is competitive and it can take time to climb up the ranks and prove your worth. That’s why it’s worth looking into some online programs to build up your resume, even if you’ve already got some coding skills. Of course, game development is an exciting and vibrant field perfect for those passionate about gaming.

Salaries in the field are quite competitive, as junior game developers can look forward to making around $87,000 a year with senior positions often paying in excess of $100,000.³

Becoming a Video Game Tester

Believe it or not there are some lucky folks who get to test video games for a living. A video game tester goes through games that are in development and checks for bugs and issues in the game. they also provide general feedback on the characters, story, difficulty, gameplay, and experience as a whole. Essentially, they make sure the quality of the game is up to par and provide detailed feedback on their findings.

This job isn’t always pure fun, however, as it does require one to replay levels many times and be quite specific about problems or inconsistencies that are found. These issues must then be passed back to the development team to fix. Starting hourly wages as a game tester can go all the way from minimum wage up to around $44/hour depending on experience level. Some jobs are remote and others are at the company’s office.

The best tactic to get these kind of jobs is to be an excellent gamer and have a degree in a field related to video game development or design. Having a degree will also entitle you to higher wages and possibly full-time positions on staff as a tester for a studio.⁴

Finding a Great Job in the Video Game Industry

The video game industry is expanding significantly every year and jobs as developers, designers, testers, artists, engineers and writers are opening up every day. Indeed, software development jobs are projected to grow by 26 percent over the next eight years and the salary is expected to go up as well. Searching online, attending job fairs and networking on social media and elsewhere are all effective strategies for finding a job in the video game industry.

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