Working in video games is a dream job for many because it gives you an opportunity to work on something that you love and to make good money doing it. Sounds great huh? Well, rest assured that you aren’t the only one who thinks so. Video games jobs are hard to get. This is a very competitive market so be prepared to do your homework.
The video games industry is huge. It is now growing faster than music and movies and last year was worth an estimated 21 billion USD in the US alone. So there are lots of different video games jobs and opportunities; some you might not even have thought of.
Your first step is to decide what type of video games jobs interest you. The high profile careers are obviously directly involved with the development of the games. These jobs include programmers, artists and animators, designers and producers. All these jobs are highly sought after and require a high level of skill and talent in that area. All of them will require a college degree in a related discipline. And while you are getting your education completed, you should also take time to get involved in games directly, if you can.
Many games are released with level designers that allow you to develop your own levels or else the games are ‘moddable’ meaning you can script modifications to the game. Some developers may even want you to submit levels created with their designer with your job application You can also get yourself a copy of Microsoft’s XNA Game Development Studio and create your own Xbox games. You can then publish games that you develop to Xbox Live. There is also an increasing demand for creative writers in the games industry. These writers write scripts and plots for story-driven and quest-based games. Blizzard and Bioware are just two top companies who hire dedicated writers.
Games developers have many other types of positions though. Some video games companies are huge (think EA or Sony) and require large numbers of support staff from customer support to HR to marketing to web design and network support. For these video games jobs you usually need the same skills and experience as you would for the same job at any other company but knowledge of and love of gaming is usually viewed favorably. Some specialist postions require gaming experience. Games Master is an in-game customer support position for an MMO such as World of Warcraft. You need MMO experience and customer support experience for these. Contrary to popular belief, most paid GMs work from the company offices, not from their homes. Some games offer volunteer GM programs for dedicated players. These can be a good first step and give you some valuable experience.
Game Tester Jobs
Games testing is another popular job. Get paid to play games all day! Bear in mind though, that you cannot just test games by playing them the way that you do when you play for fun. You have to play the same games over and over again in the way the developers tell you too, which can mean playing the same section of the game many times over. These jobs are not always that well paid and most of them are based at a company’s offices, not from your home. The good news is that this is a way into the industry for people without much experience or a college degree and could leader to bigger things. It can be a good way to break into video games jobs.
There are also jobs related to video games that are not working directly for a games developer. For example, you could work in a gaming retail store or write for an online or traditional gaming magazine.
Video Games Related Home Businesses
And finally, you can set up your own video gaming business. Now you probably can’t set up your own development company unless you are already very wealthy. But you can set up a small business that can make you some extra money. People are making money from their video gaming blogs and sites, from gaming guides and from the MMO ‘secondary market’. This is the sale of in-game items and gold for real life money. Some MMO publishers have a mechanism to allow this in their games, other disallow it in their terms of service (although that doesn’t stop it from happening). These are great ideas for students, stay at home parents or people who have a full time job in a different industry but want to make a buck or two from their hobby.