We would all love to get paid to play video games, but would you also like to be paid for creating them? For anyone who loves playing video games, being involved in the process of making one is a dream come true. Of course, the majority of people dream of being involved in making Triple-A (AAA) titles, so when reality gives them a good slap in the face, they tend to get discouraged.
Realistically speaking, if you are as good as you think, and you have solid proof to back up your statements, there’s no reason why you’ll be denied a chance to be an active member of the gaming industry. The following guide will give you a rough idea of what is required to get a job.
1. Be Proficient in a Game Related Niche
First of all, if you want to be a part of gaming industry, you should probably have experience in some of the following areas. The more experience you have, the better:
- Developer – A game developer, or programmer, is one of the most important roles in the process of game creation. Since I have very limited experience in this area, I cannot offer any viable advice. Basically, you need to be a problem solver and a great analytical thinker. Someone who has a vast knowledge of how coding works, in order to create compelling game mechanics. Someone who is able to efficiently isolate the problem and come up with a solution and someone capable of taking apart any digital system, finding out how it works and putting it back together. As far as more concrete advice is concerned, you can find good suggestions here.
- Game designer – Another essential role for game creation. There are various sub-categories when talking about this role, but smaller indie companies usually have one or two. Basically, you need to come up with a basic story, level design, character design, etc. Many games with great mechanics lose their audience because these mechanics were not utilized to their fullest. A developer needs to create a minimum viable product, and it is up to the game designer to make sure that that product can fully blossom.
- Graphic designer – The gaming industry will always appreciate artists, as they are the ones who breathe life into games. The ability to draw characters, environments, and objects that look amazing on screen, will get you a job on a team, provided the team doesn’t already have a graphic designer.
- Creative Writer – Writing for a game is much harder than your think. You need to convey all the necessary information related to the game’s mechanics, story and directions, but you have a limited amount of scenes within the game to do so. You’ll have to rely on information density to say everything you need to say. It would be good to play some of the games and pay close attention to how the information was conveyed there.
- Musician – Music is an important part of any game, since it is used to immerse the player into another world, and make the whole experience more believable. You need to compose various themes for each important individual, or for each place within the game; you need to create sound effects for each move, and all other sorts of things. Sounds play a crucial role in terms of authenticity, so when you have the ability to use various sound editing programs, you’ll have a good chance of being involved in game creation.
- Voice Actor – Even small mobile games use voice actors nowadays. So, if you have great control over your vocal cords, and can produce different voices, you might be just what a certain team needs to make their game great.
- Marketer – Lastly, if you know how to advertise, there is a good chance you’ll be involved in game production. Considering just how many indie developers are out there nowadays, getting your game noticed is of great importance.
Clearly, for games that are more complex and copious, larger teams of people are involved in their production, but before you can even start working on those games, you need to hone your skills and prove your worth. In other words, your attempt to be involved in the game industry will most definitely start small.
2. Your Portfolio
In order to get noticed, you will need a good portfolio, something that shows just how valuable of a team asset you can be. So, depending on the position you are applying for, you need to create some proof of your abilities. You can start by creating your website, and uploading your drawings, sound files, videos, writing, etc.
You should also visit websites that use the type of content you are into, (for example, deviantart.com for drawings), submit your work and hope you’ll get noticed. You need to work really hard if you want to be seen, since getting an invitation out of nowhere, like Harry Potter for Hogwarts, is highly unlikely to happen.
3. Keep Your Eyes Peeled
Always be on a lookout for employment. Additionally, don’t be too discouraged if you don’t get the job. People who are into making games will be looking for a specific artist, or writer, or programmer; someone with experience and a style that corresponds with the games that they are making. Thus, if you don’t fit the bill on your first attempt, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you are under-qualified. Again, there are a lot of indie developers and, sooner or later, you will bump into someone who can make good use of your skills.
4. Start Your Own Gig
Lastly, there is always an option of starting to work on your own game and trying to make it in the vast world of game development. You will need a team, and you should find people with the skills mentioned above, if you want to realize your vision. It goes without saying that you will need a lot of money, even for a small game, if you want it to work.
As long as you are confident in your vision, it is a worthy investment. You can also work on a demo for a game as a team, and put it on Kickstarter. This way, you can find out how the community responds to your design, whether the idea is worth it, and you can even get funding from fans to help you realize this goal.
5. Different Ways You Can Participate
Another way to get involved in the gaming industry and fly solo at the same time is by becoming a game tester or a game reviewer. These jobs are much less attractive than they seem at first glance. For example, working as a game tester will suck out all the joy from playing games.
You will need to go through the same section of the game, over and over again, until your eyes bleed. Moreover, working as a game tester, you’ll be widely unappreciated, so if you want this job, be prepared to live with all of the things mentioned in this section.
Working as a game reviewer is also hard work, at least if you want to be good at it. First, you’ll have to play the game before you can review it, which means that you’ll go through an exhausting number of hours of gameplay, to a point where you just do not find it entertaining anymore. Additionally, you’ll need a debug console, so that you can play games before their official release, if you want your review to go live on time.
Thirdly, you need to know how to actually review games, not just describe your gameplay experience. A lot of reviewers fail at this attempt, since almost every review reads as – “Nice graphics, stale gameplay” or “Fun bosses, but the graphics need more polishing” etc. This information does not offer anything valuable that is game-related. So, if you want to be a good reviewer, try to avoid these mistakes and be more thorough.
Finally, you can make walkthrough or let’s play videos, or start your own streaming channel. Game companies tend to notice these people, so you can sometimes get some privileges (highly unlikely though). You can be invited to test the game before the initial release, or you can be invited to create game guides that are also sold as game-related merchandise.
To sum up, it’s not easy to get a job within the gaming industry, and simply wanting to be involved won’t do you much good, unless you have some of the skills mentioned in the article. My best advice is to hone these necessary skills and never stop trying to get a job with a team.