Careers in the Gaming Industry
April 1, 2008
Careers in the Gaming Industry.
You must have come across Mark Cerny, the creator of Marble Madness and founder of Cerny Games driving a Ferrari while you have seen Yu Suzuki, the Sega Legend in a Ferrari as well.
X-ox is not far behind as one of their leading designers Jay Allard, drives a Ferrari.
So, why do all these head honchos of the Gaming Industry drive a Ferrari? I guess that the Ferrari is one of the most stylish cars available and they have the money to zap around the city in a car like that.
Tempting, as it is, students in colleges are thinking about making their flare for gaming a career.
While that is the dream in the budding minds, let us go through a quick tour of the gaming industry and the career skills the industry demand.
Now, if you look into the games, they have gone a long way since the days of Pokemon.
And the best part is, Pokemon began in garages. Yes, a small team of 10, working rigorously for hours everyday, finally came up with Pokemon, a game that had taken the initial gaming world by storm.
But over the years there has been a vast change in the entire scenario.
Now a game not only means movement but people expect rich 3d graphics, a strong story line and some means to challenge the gaming skills.
It is an addiction now. There are hundreds of people working long hours before a game is actually released into the market.
The teams require animation artists, sound engineers, graphics programmers, dedicated testers, and last but not the least game designers.
A formal classification of the roles could look like this:
• Artist: They are really important people and they include animators along with modelers, character designers, and texture designers.
• Programmer: In other words they are engineers, often termed by most companies as programmers.
They are involved in creating games and tools that help in building games.
Now, that is something you would love to do.
• Online Administrator: Most of the bigger companies like Microsoft and Sony, run their MMOs using their online staff.
They can be anything like maintaining websites or looking after game servers and their functioning.
• Producer: This is a very respectable and an important post because this ultimately leads to the final product and localizing foreign games for local markets Unskilled
• Quality Assurance: This category is also a very respectable category because it includes two divisions: A section called Testing, that mainly reviews games for game play; and secondly Quality Assurance, that takes upon themselves to test these games for bugs and flaws.
• Customer Support: Although this option would not be available in most companies, the bigger publishers such as Nintendo and Sega, hire people who help customers through different problems related to gaming which can be technical in nature.
• Administrative Jobs: At times, we often forget that to make a game successful, the company has to put an effort in departments like the secretary or the public relations, the accountant, and even administrative jobs that might often involve little knowledge of games.
With a sketch of what the gaming industry is looking for, we could peep into the options and ways we could to take to get into the industry.
It is very important to note that the salaries offered to the gaming professionals is quite alluring and at the same time it is difficult to get into the industry and expose yourself.
In any market the options for experienced people are always there, but how a fresher would begin is the real question.
Veterans in the industry believe that they are ultimately looking for somebody who is very passionate about games, has played a lot of games, and is knowledgeable about the various platforms.
They believe that the common entry point into the industry which might give you break through is testing.
Obviously, it does not give you a flier, neither does it ensure a striking profile but it is a way to wet your hands in this industry.
The gaming companies require thousands of rookie testers with a flare of gaming to test the games when they release.
Most of them being part timers, the testers keep in touch with the companies so that they are hired again on some other assignments.
Doing so they get a fair chance of being confirmed.
Up the corporate ladder, in this skill set are lead testers who besides being full time employees leading a test team have some say at the conference table.
It is said these lead testers are often the most tech savvy people and are really hard to get past.
Apart from them they also require the usual lookouts for a junior manager’s skill are good written and spoken communication skills.
But how do I get into developing games with real life graphic resolutions? How do I become a 3d artist? How do I find my self as a game designer? Well there is a saying that “Education is a shortcut to experience”.
Though shortcuts are not as good as the conventional streams, they can give your career a quick boost; catapult you to respectable stage in the industry.
Nowadays many respectable American universities are offering arrays of courses in game programming, 3d art with a really tough competitive entrance process.
For people who are really giving it a second thought whether to get in to this stream, here are some of the institutes and universities who offer courses:
• Full Sail, located in Winter Park, Florida, teach the nuts and bolts of programming games.
• DigiPen, which has long enjoyed a close relationship with Nintendo of America -- both physically and academically.
Located in Redmond, Washington, DigiPen shares its parking lot with Nintendo.
These colleges specialize in gaming only.
Among the other universities recognized by Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA) are Art Institute (various branches), Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Institute of Technology, and others.
The full list contains about 50 universities and colleges.
These colleges have an average campus placement rate of 92% with couple of gifted grads making it to the big scenes.
With a course length of 15 months, 13 hours a day and 8 hours extra on Saturdays, they are really demanding and that is the reason why they churn talented individuals who have redefined gaming.
It is said that the programs are so stringent that now the university authorities give out simplified hand outs of the campus life of the students so that kids coming in can be prepared for the roller coaster ride.
Statistics say that out of an average of 24000 applications requests every year, 600 applications actually get submitted and 150 odd really get in.
So it is definitely challenging and exciting.
With some details about the career skills in demand and the schools offering them, one could Google out their career paths if they really have a flare for games.