Imagine getting paid to develop, design or market video games. The gaming industry employs more than 30,000 people and the field is growing rapidly. Here’s a look at positions in the industry.
It’s not all just fun and games – the video game industry is big business. Global sales were estimated at $111 billion in 2015, and the industry employs more than 30,000 people in the U.S., with California having the largest share, according to a recent Entertainment Software Association industry report. The state’s video game industry has grown by 8.8% annually in recent years, even including the worst years of the Great Recession. The popularity of video games tells the story: 160 million video and computer games sold in 2013, which is more than one for every two U.S. residents.
The average compensation for a software industry employee is $95,000 and there are positions available that correspond to a wide range of majors and interests.
Mihaylo Career Services sponsored a panel discussion on March 7 to give students a look at the industry and the positions available. The panel included Cal State Fullerton alumni Danny Flannagan ’08 (sociology), associate technical recruiter for Blizzard Entertainment, and Dorothy Ferguson ’87 (child psychology and business administration), head of business development, publishing and licensing for Wargaming.net.
As in all industries, every case is different, and there is no single path to success. Flannagan was a customer service representative while attending Cal State Fullerton before attaining a position testing the popular “World of Warcraft” game. His current role includes human resources and maintaining relationships with universities. “It took me a good seven years of patience, but it was well worth it,” he said.
Ferguson directed business development at the payment solutions firm InComm before landing a role in marketing and gaming at Plantronics, which develops audio technology. In addition to her current gaming career, she also sits on a White House gaming diversity panel. “If you are smart and you are good at your job, you will rise to the top,” she said.
Following are some of the jobs in the industry:
They come up with the concept that will be the video game, so designers have to be creative. They also typically work with a development team, including artists, programmers and audio engineers, so they need to have good teamwork skills. Game design is often the pinnacle of a gaming professional’s career.
Good at computer coding? Consider becoming a video game programmer. These individuals work with the design team to work out the nuts and bolts of the final project, making sure that the game plays well for consumers.
Graphics and special effects are key to the success of modern video games. That’s where the animator comes in. These workers need to be able to perform well under pressure and be adept at the latest graphic design tools.
Writers and Translators
There are several roles in the video game world for writers. Script writers create the dialogue for the characters, while translators make it possible for companies to market their games in foreign markets. Technical writers write the instructions that accompany the finished product.
Technical Support Specialists
When users need help with their favorite video game, they turn to the company’s technical support specialist, who has to have excellent people skills and knowledge of the video games and related technical equipment. These specialists often also provide technical assistance to the production staff.
It’s a game, but the money behind it isn’t. Producers are in charge of the finances of the operation, making sure a game release stays on budget, and overseeing business operations.
Public outreach is key to the success of any video game. Marketers design advertisements, maintain contact with media, conduct market research and may act as spokespeople for the brand. These days, a lot of the “hype” around video games occurs online, so people with a strong understanding of the internet and social media (in particular Youtube) will have a leg up in the gaming business.
Just like any other product, there’s the practical side of getting video games into the hands of consumers. Salespeople sell the games to wholesalers and retailers. They must have good sales skills as well as knowledge of their product.
To search for jobs in the industry, check out the Gamasutra online job board, or for more on events offered by Mihaylo Career Services, visit them at SGMH 1409, or contact them at 657-278-8738 or MihayloCareers@fullerton.edu.