How to get a job in the video game industry?
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The constant evolvement of the technology that is becoming available to video game developers shows that the consumer market is expanding and offers a wider range of products, thus creating game jobs is on the rise. Let’s for example look at VR, that is just only getting started and there’s already over 1,100 VR supported games on Steam. And like many other careers, there are always new opportunities popping out. But where to seek out video game job opportunities and how to get a job in the video game industry? The business is here to stay and it’s a very lucrative one (statistics included in our previous blog entry – Game industry destination- UK and Scotland but why?) so will leave those out in this one and will give few simple tips on how people get jobs in the video game industry.
How to get a job in the video game industry as a programmer?
A video game programmer is a software engineer who creates the code that makes a video game run. Due to the high complexity of today’s video games, most programmers specialize in one area of game programming, such as gameplay, AI, audio, tools or graphics, and other. Typically, studios look for candidates with an engineer’s degree in information systems or a similar field. A strong background in math and science and an understanding of gaming can help make a game programmer successful.
Since 2014 online searches for “game developer” or “programmer” have increased by 50% and this is probably the first to come up in Google when searching for jobs in the video game industry. And the best fit for the job are coders and computer programmers, and your educational background or experience will be in code, computer science, and game development. A satisfactory programmers portfolio should show competence with C++ and advanced algebra, skills that are used daily by programmers. Make your own games and have your programmer portfolio sample ready to show – this will make you stand out. Use development platforms like GitHub or open communities such as Stack Overflow.
Art and Animation – build your portfolio
A game’s art style gives it an identity that may be remembered for decades to come, so think the Legends of Zelda, The Final Fantasy, Portal, Witcher. All not only have remained in gamers’ memory for their art style, but they are also instantly recognizable. So everyone with an interest in digital art in games can only dream about making such an impact, and this is what makes this sector one of the most popular in the industry thus highly competitive. You can choose from becoming a character artist, technical artist, concept artist, UI artist, environment artist, and more. Concept art and character art have hundreds of applications for one role. Technical art, technical animator, UI art, VFX, or lighting art often get fewer. Nevertheless, all are equally important in creating a game.
To degree or not to degree
A video game animator usually needs a bachelor’s degree in game art and design, or fine arts to enter this field. They should also have an extensive portfolio to showcase their work, demonstrate experience, and high-quality content. Most desired examples are in-game animations (walk, run, fight, etc.) that will showcase the smooth transition and natural feel of all movements (those can be exaggerated). In addition to that, animators should also add action to lighting and background scenes.
Job options within video game animation include modeler, texture artist, animator, and motion-capture artist. Those interested in this field can find jobs at game production or computer animation studios, among others.
Animators use computers and specialized software, such as Maya, 3ds Max, Blender, MotionBuilder to create lifelike expressions and ambulations.
Build your portfolio
Most popular way to build your portfolio is to have an Artstation, your own website, or something similar with some well thought out game concepts, demos, or graphics that look like game art. Photos of oil paintings do not usually help, it has to be digital. Your portfolio needs to demonstrate you understand the specific approach that game art requires and it should have industry-standard pieces on it, it doesn’t need to be a professional, paid for work. Learn to work with the latest industry-standard tools, but make sure your traditional skills are well trained as well. There are many resources online for finding out how to make game art if that’s not something you’re totally familiar with yet. Polycount’s forums can be a good place to ask questions and get feedback on your work.
As well as crafting a winning portfolio and pitch, artists need to be aware of the software and tools used by the studio they would like to work for. Many job ads will specify exactly which skills you need. If not, Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, and 3D packages such as Maya and ZBrush will always help your cause, while a broad knowledge of game engines like Unity, Unreal Engine will be a massive bonus.
Any experience you have making games is a bonus. Getting your art into a game engine, whether for a personal project, a game jam or an assignment, shows you can make art that works in a game. Taking part in a game jam or making a game as a side project helps develop an understanding of other areas of development that makes you more employable.
Here is one of the best videos on building a great portfolio for gaming industry:
Video game tester – game industry career paths
This is a great way into getting a job in the video game industry. Also known as Beta Testers, Game Testers are responsible for detecting bugs, glitches, artistic flaws – they “play the game to break the game”. If you enjoy spending 8 hours a day (or more) playing video games, and you’ve got a great eye for details, this could be a job for you. It’s also an awesome way to learn about how video games are created. You will need to be a dedicated gamer with a great eye for details, an aspiring developer, and a team player. You will learn or have your background in computer science, gameplay, hacking, and quality assurance, and knowing this will increase your chances of getting noticed, there is a lot of competition out there.
What about education? – various paths in getting a job in the video game industry
Higher education offers various degrees that can help you land a career in the gaming industry. In regards to art and animation, those degrees don’t need to be directly linked to games. But for some going through higher education was pivotal, since they hand you the right tools, impose deadlines that force you to progress and surround you with likeminded people, passionate about games. Formal training is also highly beneficial as it will teach you why things are done a certain way and introduce you to the correct terminology and language. It’s important to research courses to make sure you’ll be taught what you need to know. In the UK, you can visit ScreenSkills to see a list of accredited courses, In the US, there are two popular sites to look up universities for game design courses, one for undergrad and one for grad schools.