It may seem like the fantasy of every 80s kid who has ever picked up a Game Boy, but being obsessed with video games can actually open you up to a range of career options.
The industry is going from strength to strength and is powered by a global network of game players, creatives, technologists and many others whose skills bring games to life.
According to the International Software Federation of Europe52% of Europeans between the ages of six and 64 play video games. Nor are children dominating the statistics. More than three quarters (76%) of these gamers are over the age of 18 and the average age of a video game player in Europe is 31.3 years.
While the industry has matured in many ways, it is still behind the times when it comes to diversity. While women and girls make up nearly half (48%) of all gamers in Europe, this representation is not yet reflected among those working in the sector, with a global average of around 22% of women working in gaming. This is a divide that organizations like the UK have led Women in games try to bridge.
With more than 98,000 jobs in the European gaming sector in 2020, there are plenty of opportunities for creative, technical and support staff. Opportunities range from small indie studios to multinational corporations producing blockbusters that rival Hollywood production values.
Being such an attractive industry, it can be difficult to get started in gaming. Getting a foot in the door with no experience can be the biggest challenge, which is why aspiring gaming employees are advised to be active in forums, communities and events, and try to build a portfolio for potential employers.
Tech jobs in gaming
Technical roles in gaming usually require a degree in computer science or even a specialist qualification in video game programming and development, which some universities offer. This investment in a gaming career can pay off with one of the highest paying roles in the industry.
Smaller studios will require developers to be flexible and able to handle a variety of challenges, while large companies will have the capacity for highly specialized roles. However, don’t be surprised if your choice of indie studio is swallowed up by a bigger player, as this is common practice throughout the industry.
Beat Games, an award-winning VR game studio based in Prague, was picked up by Meta in 2019. It’s now part of Meta’s Reality Labs division and is currently looking for a senior game developer for Beat Saber, a VR sensation a bit like Dance Dance Revolution for your arms.
Developers in gaming can work hard building, testing and debugging programs, as well as processing updates in response to user requests and demands.
Creative roles in gaming
Games also need artists and specialists in image and sound to create their immersive worlds. Graduates in interactive media design, sound production and graphic design can find their skills here, but a fundamental understanding of gameplay will lead to a top role.
While game developers focus on the code, game designers need to generate stories and ideas that work. Games also require a variety of writing talent, with some titles requiring cinematic scripts and others needing clear and concise text to smoothly move users from one stage to the next.
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 form the basis for various actions and keep players engaged.
And all that audio needs great sound engineers working behind the scenes to make sure everything is recorded and mixed just right.
The tools used by creative teams in gaming vary from studio to studio, but common software includes After Effects, 3ds Max, Unity, and Unreal Engine.
Support jobs in gaming
As with any business, gaming requires entire teams behind the creative and technical workers to bring products to market. From finance to marketing to in-game monetization, there are many roles for those who can’t code or create but have other valuable skills to offer.
Market analysts in the games industry monitor shifts in audience behavior and devise the strategies needed to reach them. They must have an eye for trends, be able to budget and even be called upon to model release forecasts. This is a career choice for passionate gamers who have their finger on the pulse of the industry as a whole.
But perhaps the ultimate dream job in gaming is that of the tester. Essential to the process of getting a well-formed game to market, testers give development teams the fresh perspective they need for a final release.
They must be skilled gamers first and foremost, but with a keen eye for detail to catch inconsistencies, glitches, and bugs. It is also a role that requires good communication skills, as testers must report their findings to the team behind a game.
Gaming is global, so it takes testers who master many languages to perfect games for different markets. For example, Dublin-based game studio Keywords Studios is currently looking for game testers in French, Portuguese, Polish, Turkish, Czech and many more languages.
Testers can expect the job to be more of a short-term gig with flexible contracts dictated by project needs, but it can certainly be a fun way to make a living, if you’re a super-avid 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 build careers playing games competitively to win prizes and sponsorships.
For more career opportunities in gaming, visit the House of Talent Jobs Board