As one of the world’s largest gaming markets, the wide variety of jobs in gaming available in the UK should come as no surprise. Whether you are more creatively inclined, have an unrivalled talent for gaming or believe you have an idea for the world’s next biggest game, there is a job for you.
Do you need a degree to work in the gaming industry?
Whether or not a degree is needed for a career in gaming will depend on the type of role you are interested in. Professional gamers, for example, require no relevant qualifications or education (the youngest person to become a professional gamer was just six years old!) However, excelling in this field will need plenty of gaming proficiency, not to mention a good dose of personality!
Similarly, creative roles such as game artist will not always require a degree-level education. Depending on the employer, your experience and skill could prove to be of more value.
However, there are specialised gaming-related jobs that will need a degree or equivalent qualification. For example, if you’re an aspiring video game programmer, you will probably need to have studied and practised coding for a few years to be taken seriously.
How competitive is the market for jobs in gaming?
Whilst there is a huge variety of jobs in the gaming industry, competition is fierce. Most vacancies tend to receive hundreds of applicants.
Luckily, there are many ways you can bolster your chances of success. An excellent first step would be to immerse yourself in the gaming community, be it joining forums and groups on the web or attending gaming events. This will give you an opportunity to make valuable contacts who may be able to aid you in your future career.
You should also ensure that you have a solid portfolio which showcases your skills and talents – especially if you are interested in becoming a game artist, or something similarly creative. If you want to forge a career as a game designer, you will greatly improve your prospects by creating and designing your own game independently.
It’s important to remember that whilst the gaming job market is saturated, progression is typically excellent. This means that whilst your first position may not be your dream job, it should be viewed as a valuable way into the industry.
Types of jobs in gaming
When it comes to finding employment in the gaming industry, there are plenty of options.
Arguably one of the most competitive jobs in gaming, a professional gamer must be exceptionally talented, as well as entertaining. The role typically involves either streaming gameplay online to followers (when they will often be referred to as a streamer) or competing in tournaments.
The most successful professional gamers enjoy celebrity-like status, as well a salary that easily reaches into the six-figure mark – sometimes higher. Pro gamers make their money in several ways including sponsorship, advertising and tournament winnings.
Professional gaming is considered one of the most difficult jobs in gaming to break into. If you’re a pro-gaming hopeful, start by picking a game you love and excel at. You’ll then be able to stream your gameplay confidently on a video streaming platform such as Twitch or Mixer.
As the brains behind a video game, a game designer oversees the conceptualisation of a game, including the plot, characters and setting. The game designer will be responsible for directing the entire creative process: from initial storyline through to animation and programming.
Game designers need to exhibit a range of personal qualities developed through good workplace practice, such as understanding how to:
- work well within a team;
- generate original ideas;
- structure a compelling story;
- lead a team effectively.
This is one of the jobs in gaming that will, in most cases, need a degree in a related discipline such as graphic design or computer science.
A game artist is often confused with a game designer; in reality the two roles differ greatly. A game artist will use the design prototype created by the game designer in order to imagine how the game will look. This includes drawing the characters, and creating scenery and weapons.
Game artists may also be responsible for animating their creations, meaning they must be comfortable with specialist software.
Occasionally, the role of a game artist may be split across two positions: a concept artist who creates sketches and storyboards, and a 3D artist who is responsible for the animation.
Depending on the size of the company and the job role, a game artist may be required to create artwork and graphics for marketing and promotional materials.
When it comes to hiring a game artist, employers will often consider skill, experience and a decent portfolio over qualifications. However, you may require a bachelor’s degree in a related subject such as graphic design, games art, or animation.
Video game programmer
Also referred to as a game developer, a video game programmer is responsible for taking the concept created by the designer and artist and writing the code to turn it into a playable video game. This will involve not only bringing the creative vision to life using the rulesets and logic of programming languages, but also ensuring that a player’s inputs from the game controller, mouse or keyboard trigger the correct in-game actions.
In order to be a successful video game programmer, you will need a high level of technical knowledge, including an understanding of multiple programming languages in order to write the necessary code. You will also need to be familiar with the process of quality testing code in order to identify and resolve problems.
Game programming is one of the roles within the games industry which will require a degree-level qualification in a relevant field, such as computer science, computer games programming or games technology.
Video game tester
Far from sitting and playing games all day, as a video game tester you will be responsible for identifying any faults, glitches or bugs in a game that may impact on the user’s experience and enjoyment. Being a good gamer is not enough; you must have a solid understanding of the technology behind games. Remember: the job needs people to break the game – not just to play it.
Whilst many people think this role sounds simple, being a game tester is a highly challenging position which demands impeccable attention to detail and patience. Rather than playing a video game to completion, you will often be required to replay certain sections or redo a particular action in as many ways possible. This helps to ensure the game is functioning properly throughout.
Although formal qualifications are not needed to be a game tester, completing a degree related to games technology or design may help increase your chances of finding employment.
Other jobs in gaming
Whilst those roles listed above are some of the most common within the gaming industry, there are plenty of other associated employment opportunities, e.g. marketing and PR for games publishers, storyline writing, and audio engineering, to name a few.
It’s worth thinking about the unique skills that you have to offer – much like other creative industries, such as film and television production, there are many different roles involved in bringing a project to completion.
While you don’t have to be a coder, relevant experience and qualifications can help. However, it’s also important to do your due diligence: commit to research, reach out to people in the industry and immerse yourself in the world of gaming (and your chosen pursuit) as much as possible.
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