Were you often fascinated and eager to know the magic behind the video games you played for fun? Turns out, that’s enough to get you kickstarted into making a career out of your curiosity. When others were just seeking entertainment, you were ready to go the extra mile and learn the dynamics behind it.
Back in the time, video gaming was expensive and inaccessible to one and all. Today, even beginners get to play on super addictive smartphone apps, and lifestyle gamers play action-packed shooter games from their consoles or PCs at home. Gaming has been celebrated across the world, with many opting for it as a career by playing and competing at a professional level.
Whereas when it comes to the revenue generated, the game industry makes more than both Hollywood and the music industry. That pretty much sums up to explain the importance of the game industry in bolstering the economy of any country.
From a simple video game of pong in the 1970s followed by arcade games in the 90s, to the smartphone gaming today, video games have come a long way. The game industry has begun to see drastic technological changes with the onset of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). Several advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) could also play a key role in changing the face of commercial gaming.
In an industry that’s booming, the requirement for qualified, conscious, creative, and innovative game designers is at an all-time high. One of the best careers in recent times, game designers are most sought-after.
Though they’re fun to play, the creation and development of video games is a tedious procedure. A video game designer needs to draft a story, incorporate high-level graphics, test the game and eliminate the bugs, and then produce the final product. This is just an overlook of game designing, while there are several processes that actually take place.
So, if you’ve come this far, pretty sure you’re intrigued about the game industry. Here’s a comprehensive guide to assist you in understanding everything you need to know about this field.
Can Anyone Become A Game Designer?
Undoubtedly, yes! All you need is that inquisitiveness and never fading interest to learn more about the game industry. To start with, let us initially focus on how to make a career in the game industry and the different paths that can be taken to succeed. If you’re still skeptical, let’s consider a list, technical skills, problem solver, great team player, positive attitude, artistic skills, and eager to learn. If any one of those attributes listed describes you, even if it’s just one, you are good to go and make a career in the game industry.
Although there are several other roles, the term “game designer” is often incorrectly associated with anyone who works in the game industry. As far as game designers and game developers are considered, there’s a significant difference here as well. Video game designers are innovative and creatively gifted individuals who are entirely responsible for the design and layout of a video game.
Storylines, characters, scenarios, levels, etc. of a game are all your cup of tea. On the other hand, a video game developer brings the designers’ vision to life using computer code. Though these two obligations have distinct career paths, the output stands incomplete without the expertise of either one of them.
Educational requirements to enter the game industry, do you need a degree?
On one side of the coin, despite what the internet says, you don’t actually need a degree to prove your mettle. If you have notable outstanding previous work in the career you want to opt for and possess the skills required, if you can prove that you can get the job done – you have a job. Period.
On the other side, students interested to pursue a career in game designing are expected to receive technical training for the programming, digital design skills required to create video games, and technical skills related to coding. Large game studios generally expect video game designers to have a bachelor’s degree when they hire one.
Though several schools offer a degree in game design, aspiring game designers can get necessary inputs and training from computer science, software engineering, or related degree programs. The video game industry can be quite challenging for designers, but by opting for the right degree program, you can build the skills you’ll require to kickstart your career.
The basic coursework for a game design program covers various subjects like storyboard rendering, interface design, 2D and 3D modeling and animation, drawing, and scripting. Within the game designing specialty, there are different types of designers, including level designer, lead designer, and content designer, which have an array of responsibilities. So, it entirely depends on your area of interest and strength.
Key skills required to enter the game industry
Alongside your educational qualifications, there are several important skills you’ll need to acquire to land yourself a job in this industry. These include:
- Critical thinking
- Problem-solving, judgment, and decision-making
- Quality control analysis and operations analysis
- Systems evaluation
- Advanced computer skills with programming languages, especially C, C++, Perl, Assembly, and Lua
Game Designer’s Salary
Although it could be your passion to make a career in the game industry, it’s a fact that at the end of the day, your monetary outcome is one of the driving forces. Money is important, and it’s just the way it is – you deserve to know how much you can potentially earn before diving headfirst into this career.
Well, the positive side of what could be a stressful career is that the requirement has hit sky-high, and hence you can make quite a good living through designing and creating games! In 2018, an average entry-level salary was $40,000 – $60,000 annually, whereas the more experienced employees received paycheques of $80,000 – $120,000 annually.
The median pay for employees in 2019 was $75,270 per year or $36.19 per hour. These stats effectively conclude that creative game designers are the need of the hour, and if you can excel in the industry, your monetary gains would be much more.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Is the video game industry for you?
Well, this is an important question that needs to be addressed before you set foot into the game industry. One thing you’ll need to be assured of is that making games is not playing games.
Most people who are intensely into playing video games at some point start thinking that it would be cool to make games for a living. Yes, one who makes games needs to also play several more to understand the dynamics, but you need to understand that creating a game is not even close to playing it.
The game industry expects its employees to be able to deal with high pressure and stress, so you should think twice about this before pursuing a career in games. You’ll have to be dedicated, meet deadlines, have strong attention to detail, and your creativity shall have no bounds.
A few tips for breaking into the gaming industry
It’s a well-known fact that there are no shortcuts to success. Yet, a few suggestions could help you shape your path to achieve your passion.
- Post your work: To start off with, you need to spend a lot of time lurking around discussion boards and soaking up and sharing as much knowledge as you can. There are high chances that professional game developers could read the stuff you put up and this could be a perfect way to help you build industry connection that could land you a job offer.
- Start a gaming blog: With all the knowledge you have about this industry, go ahead and start writing it down. You never know if it could catch someone’s eye and give you a break you’re waiting for.
- Build your own basic level games: Wondering how to gain experience without even getting a job? The answer is simple: Make a basic level game with your knowledge, done. Now you have some experience. You can always use these projects you work on in interviews as experience.
- Get a video-game related or a traditional college degree: Yes, although you can survive without a degree, securing one will always help you in the longer run. It’ll certainly give you an edge and is generally expected by major companies.
- Be persistent, don’t give up: Like any other professional job, developing your skills and landing yourself a job in the video game industry isn’t going to be easy. In the process, you might get discouraged when things go south, but do not lower your guard. Finally, be mentally prepared to face rejections because no one’s ever cracked anything in their first shot.
Be rest assured, game design is a rewarding career path. Right now, whether you’re in school or university pursuing your education, or you already have a job, it’s never late to pursue your passion in the gaming industry.
Anyone can learn how to make games; the opportunity is endless. The one and the only way to start working towards a career in this field is to start learning how to make games, develop your knowledge, and never to stop thinking creatively. The sooner you start, the more prepared you’ll be.
You never know the next big breakthrough in this industry could be your idea. Although it takes a lot of effort and time, if it’s your passion, you’ll find your niche, even if it takes you several trials. So, step out, put your best foot forward, give in all you’ve got sincerely, and live your dream career!