Updated: Sep 19, 2021
By Micah Norris
When you’re bored, tired, or plain struggling, video games can be a wonderful pick-me-up. The best games tell extraordinary stories that change you and stay with you for a lifetime. It’s no wonder the video game industry in the U.S – according to Statista – has almost doubled in market valuation, from $37 billion in 2011 to $65.49 billion in 2021.
If you love video games, there has arguably never been a better time to make a career out of it. Here’s how:
Determine where your interests lie
Yes, you love video games – but does that mean you love making them or playing them?
There are countless people in the video game industry who love the art, design, and storytelling aspect of it all, but aren’t all that interested in the gaming bit. Then there are the professional gamers and testers who button-mash all day.
Before you consider a career in the industry, you must determine your aptitude and interest levels first. Consider taking a test that matches jobs with personality. By finding a job that suits your personality, you’re more likely to love what you do for a living. It will also keep you engaged in a positive way, which is essential to help prevent burnout or job dissatisfaction.
Evaluate your skills
One you’ve determined where your interests lie, it’s time to take a good, hard look at your current skill-set.
As Zety explains, employers want a mix of technical and soft skills. Your technical/hard skills are the ones you utilize for the daily grind. Examples include design, development, testing, and gaming. Your soft skills express how you interact with coworkers and clients. They include communication, teamwork, and personal responsibility.
Pick up the skills you need
Hard skills aren’t innate – you pick them up along the way. If you don’t already have coding, designing, development, or gaming experience, it’s time to get some. Do you get them? Well, there are multiple avenues available to you. You could self-study, but that’s arduous--not to mention you could end up missing something critical. It might be better to go to school to earn a degree.
Soft skills are often easy to pick up, they require you to develop and improve the skills before you can incorporate them into your daily routine.
These days, it’s possible to obtain a comprehensive degree online. An online degree has flexible scheduling, so you can learn while you work. For video gaming careers, you should look at degrees like computer science, software engineering, and computer animation. Such degrees allow you to pick up core skills like computer architecture, logic, algorithms, data structures, and general computer theory.
Jack-of-all-trades vs. Specialization
When looking at degree options, you should ideally keep an eventual job specialization in mind. Do you see yourself becoming a solo developer releasing your own games? You’ll need to be a jack-of-all-trades, in this case. You’ll be responsible for everything, from development and testing to sales and customer care.
Would you rather work for a large gaming studio with a team of talented people instead? Pick a specialization. Some examples: multimedia artist, tester, gamer, customer rep, writer, composer, developer, and voice artist.
Look for an opportunity
The video gaming industry won’t always be easy to break into, depending on your specialization. Prepare to intern for free, volunteer for testing or development groups online, learn how to network, and generally focus on getting your foot in the door at any place that will have you. At this stage, you should work on developing your skills. Education can take you only so far in this field. But don’t let that bother you – everyone picks up the skills they need on the job. I highly recommend you find a mentor, if you can.
Take inspiration from gamers and other professionals who’ve made it big –It is indeed possible to have a rewarding, long-lasting career in the video gaming industry, as a gamer, developer, or artist. And with the increasing popularity of games, prospects are bright.
Finally, don’t forget to believe in yourself, focus on learning, and keep moving forward.
● Image via Unsplash