It might seem like every 80’s kid’s fantasy that’s ever bought a Game Boy, but being obsessed with video games can actually provide you with an array of career opportunities.
The industry continues to go from strength to strength, fueling it with a global network of gamers, creatives, technologists and more whose skills bring games to life.
According to the International Software Federation of Europe, 52% of Europeans aged 6 to 64 play video games. And it’s not the children who dominate the statistics either. More than three quarters (76%) of these players are over 18 and the average age of a video game player in Europe is 31.3 years old.
Although the industry has matured in many ways, it still lags behind when it comes to diversity. Although women and girls make up almost half (48%) of all gamers in Europe, this representation is not yet reflected among those working in the sector, with the global average standing at around 22% of female employees. in gaming. It’s a gap that organizations such as UK-led Women in Games are trying to fill.
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With over 98,000 gaming jobs in Europe in 2020, there are plenty of positions available for creative, technical and support staff. Opportunities range from small independent studios to multinationals producing blockbusters that rival Hollywood production values.
Being such a desirable industry, it can be difficult to get into gaming. Getting your foot in the door with no experience can be the biggest challenge, and so aspiring gaming employees are advised to be active in the forums, communities and events, and dabble in building a portfolio for potential employers.
Technical jobs in the game
Technical roles in gaming will usually require a degree in computer science or even a specialized qualification in video game programming and development, which some universities offer. This investment in a playing career can pay off with one of the highest paying roles in the industry.
In smaller studios, developers will need to be flexible and able to handle various challenges, while larger companies have the ability to take on highly specialized roles. However, don’t be surprised if your choice of indie studio gets swallowed up by a bigger player, as this is a common occurrence in the industry.
Beat Games, an award-winning VR game studio in Prague, was taken over by Meta in 2019. It is now part of Meta’s Reality Labs division and is currently looking for a senior game developer for Beat Saber, a VR sensation that looks a bit like to Dance Dance Revolution for your arms.
Game developers can expect to work hard creating, testing, and debugging programs, as well as processing updates in response to user requests and requests.
Creative roles in games
Games also need artists and sound and image specialists to create their immersive worlds. Graduates of Interactive Media Design, Sound Production, and Graphic Design may find their skills will apply here, but a fundamental understanding of gameplay will lead to a prominent role.
While game developers focus on code, game designers need to generate stories and ideas that work. Games also require a variety of writing skills, with some titles requiring movie-like scripts and others requiring clear, concise copy to guide users smoothly from step to step.
Animators with coding and 3D modeling skills to match their artistry are brought in to bring movement to the gameplay. Composers and audio programmers then create and implement the soundscapes that provide a foundation for different actions and keep players engaged.
And all that sound requires great sound engineers working behind the scenes to make sure everything is recorded and mixed properly.
The tools used by creative teams in games vary from studio to studio, but commonly used software includes After Effects, 3ds Max, Unity, and Unreal Engine.
Support jobs in games
As with any business, gaming requires entire teams behind creative and technical workers in order to bring products to market. From finance to marketing to in-game monetization, there are plenty of roles for those who can’t code or create but have other valuable skills to offer.
Market analysts in the gaming industry monitor changes in audience behavior and develop the strategies needed to achieve them. They need an eye for trends, an ability to budget, and may even be called upon to model release forecasts. This is a career choice for avid gamers who have their finger on the pulse of the industry as a whole.
But perhaps the ultimate dream job in gaming is as a tester. Essential to the process of bringing a well-formed game to market, testers give development teams the fresh look they need before a final release.
Above all, they must be experienced players, but with a keen eye for detail to detect inconsistencies, problems and bugs. It’s also a role that requires good communication skills, as testers need to report their findings to the team behind a game.
The game is global, so testers fluent in multiple languages are needed to perfect games for different markets. For example, Dublin-headquartered game studio Keywords Studios is currently looking for game testers in French, Portuguese, Polish, Turkish, Czech and many other languages.
Testers can expect the job to be more of a short-term job with flexible contracts dictated by project needs, but it can definitely be a fun way to earn a living, if you’re a super diligent gamer.
And it can be a way to hone your skills as a professional gamer. The phenomenal growth of esports has seen many talented gamers carve out careers playing games competitively to win prizes and sponsorships.