Has your love of gaming sparked interest in possibly working in the video game industry? If so, here are some of the most popular video game careers you may want to pursue.
Careers In The Video Game Industry
Searching for jobs in the video game industry can be tough if you have never done it before.
Why? Blame it on selection, as there are so many paths you can take in the industry, making it overwhelming to decide which way you want to go.
To help you get started with your search, we came up with a list of the most common career paths for video game developers people take when looking to break into the video game industry. Find one that you like, and you can begin researching it further to make moves to get closer to your dream.
Before we dive into the various careers the video game industry has to offer, be sure to bookmark our tutorial: How to Become a Video Game Developer to learn more about breaking into the gaming industry.
Video Game Quality Assurance Tester
Contrary to popular belief, a QA tester does not just sit around and play fun and polished video games all day. Instead, they play the latest game builds that are under construction, not close to being finished, missing content, and are usually full of bugs. As they do so, QA testers are supposed to report defects or things that must be fixed to ensure that games are of the highest quality once they get released to the public.
Although game testers are sometimes seen as entry-level positions in the video game world, they play an extremely important role. A QA tester could be seen as a last line of defense before a game is released to the public. If they miss out on bugs or do not do a thorough job, it could lead to hordes of disappointed fans.
If you are unsure how to break into the video game industry, becoming a QA tester may be your best bet. It can help you learn how video games are made and how studios function. From there, you can move on to become a game designer, programmer, producer, or artist.
Some of the tasks you may complete in your typical daily role as a QA tester include:
- Playing a game build to look for issues and defects.
- Knowing how to make a defect appear predictably so others can spot and fix it.
- Typing issue reports into a database or bug tracker and submitting them to the development team.
- Collaborating with programmers to help fix issues.
Video Game Programmer
When you work as a video game programmer, developer, or engineer, you use programming languages like C++ or Java to tell a computer how to convert content into a playable game.
Out of all the video game industry’s positions, this one is the most technical, so you may want to go to school to get your degree in computer science or something similar before looking for work. If school is not an option, you can teach yourself programming online. You could also get on-the-job experience by applying for an entry-level programming position with a video game company.
Besides technical knowledge, you will need patience and focus to become a video game programmer. With those skills, you could land a high salary, as programmers are usually the highest-paid positions in the industry.
Here are some daily video game programmer tasks you could experience:
- Researching, drawing diagrams, and collaborating with programmers before coding a game.
- Collaborating with team members to discuss how game features should function.
- Typing instructions as source code via an IDE (integrated development environment).
- Making sure games work as intended and tweaking source code when needed.
- Optimizing game performance.
- Implementing game features.
- Fixing issues from bug reports received from QA testers.
We have a list of the Best Online Courses to Learn Game Development that can help you get started as a video game programmer.
Video Game Designer
If you have plenty of experience playing video games and love to analyze and discuss them with others, a career as a game designer might be right up your alley.
Do most people start as video game designers? No, as it can be tough to break into such a desired spot without any industry experience. Instead, game designers typically start as production assistants or quality assurance testers. Once they make connections and show they have the potential talent to design games, they can then move into that coveted role.
However, if you are dead set on becoming a pro game designer right out of the gate, you could take the plunge to create games on your own or enroll in a video game design school to get a certificate or degree.
Most video game designer jobs tend to break down into the following categories:
- Overall game design
- Mission design
- Level design
Example of Unity Game Development Tool
If you work on a massive game, your role may be even more specified, and you may find yourself in a position working on pacing, tuning, or combat design.
Here are some tasks you may tackle on a typical day as a game designer:
- Play a game’s current version to see how it could be improved and ensure it is enjoyable.
- Test competitors’ games to see their strengths and weaknesses.
- Design gameplay mechanics and game levels.
- Create or tweak a game’s numeric data using tools like Microsoft Excel.
- Balance and tune gameplay.
- Draft game design documents that help your team understand what you have created.
- Collaborate with producers, artists, and programmers regarding your current game designs or future projects.
Video Game Producer
A video game producer plays many roles and requires excellent communication and planning skills. Being good with numbers can help, too, as you may be in charge of managing a game’s budget.
You can work your way up to a producer job by starting as a game tester or production assistant. From there, you could get promoted to associate producer, where you focus on scheduling and other daily tasks versus having a say in a project’s overall bigger picture. Move up to a senior producer position, and you can become a product owner responsible for a game’s finances, long-term planning, etc.
Here are some everyday tasks you may have to tackle if you become a video game producer:
- Ensuring your team has everything they need to be focused and productive.
- Collaborating with your team to plan the next few weeks of work.
- Negotiating contracts.
- Maintaining budgets.
- Meeting with non-team members like publishers and studio directors.
You may also consider project management tools if you pursue this video game job. Our article Best Project Management Software for Game Developers can help you choose the right one.
Video Game Artist
An artist/animator is one video game industry position that can be tough to crack since it takes a ton of unique artistic talent. But beyond that talent, you must also have skills working with art tools like Adobe Photoshop and Autodesk Maya. Combine all of the above with a strong portfolio, and you may find yourself living the dream as a video game artist doing filling one of the following specializations:
- UI artist – Plays a crucial role in designing a game’s navigational components, such as the menus.
- Concept artist – In charge of imagining and planning how a game’s world and characters will look and feel.
- Character modeler – Creates 3D models of a game’s characters.
- Character animator – Brings those 3D character models to life.
Other specializations you could work in as a video game artist include visual effects, environments, character rigging, etc. If this sounds like an exciting career path, start looking into art school, as a degree from there could help you get in the door.