It might seem like the fantasy of every 80’s kid who ever picked up a Game Boy, but being obsessed with video games can actually offer you a number of career opportunities.
The industry continues to grow, fueled by a global network of gamers, creatives, technologists and many others whose skills bring games to life.
According to the International Software Federation of Europe, 52% of Europeans between the ages of six and 64 play video games. And it’s not the kids who dominate the statistics either. More than three quarters (76%) of these gamers are over 18 years old and the average age of a video game player in Europe is 31.3 years.
While the industry has matured in many ways, it’s still behind the times when it comes to diversity. Although women and girls account for almost half (48%) of all gamers in Europe, this representation is not yet reflected among those employed in the industry as the global average is around 22% of women employed in gaming. This is a gap that organizations like Women in Games, led by the UK, are trying to bridge.
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With more than 98,000 jobs in the European gaming industry in 2020, there are many vacancies for creative, technical and support staff. Opportunities range from small indie studios to multinationals producing blockbusters that rival Hollywood production values.
Because it’s such a coveted industry, it can be difficult to get started playing. Getting your foot in the door with no experience can be the biggest challenge, so aspiring gaming professionals are encouraged to be active in forums, communities, and events, and try their hand at building a portfolio for potential employers.
Tech jobs in gaming
Technical roles in gaming typically require a degree in computer science or even a professional qualification in video game programming and development, which some universities offer. That investment in a gaming career can pay off with one of the highest paying roles in the business.
In smaller studios, developers need to be flexible and able to take on different challenges, while large companies have capacity for highly specialized roles. However, don’t be surprised if your choice of indie studio is gobbled up by a bigger player, as that’s common across the industry.
Beat Games, an award-winning VR game studio in Prague, was acquired by Meta in 2019. It’s now part of Meta’s Reality Labs division and is currently looking for a senior game developer for Beat Saber, a VR sensation that’s a little bit Dance Dance Revolution for your arms.
Gaming developers can expect to work hard building, testing and debugging programs and processing updates in response to user requests and requests.
Creative roles in gaming
Games also need artists and sound and image specialists to create their immersive worlds. Graduates in interactive media design, sound production, and graphic design can find their skills here, but a basic understanding of gameplay leads to a pinnacle role.
While game developers focus on the code, game designers need to generate stories and ideas that work. Games also require a variety of writing skills, with some titles requiring movie-like scripts and others requiring clear and concise copy to smoothly guide users from one stage to the next.
Animators with coding and 3D modeling skills to match their artistry are brought in to add movement to the gameplay. Composers and audio programmers then create and implement the soundscapes that form the basis for various actions and keep players engaged.
And all that audio requires great sound engineers working behind the scenes to make sure everything is recorded and mixed just right.
The tools used by creative teams when playing vary from studio to studio, but commonly used software includes After Effects, 3ds Max, Unity, and Unreal Engine.
Support jobs in gaming
As with any business, gaming requires entire teams behind the creative and technical staff to bring products to market. From finance to marketing to in-game monetization, there are many roles for those who can’t code or create but have other valuable skills to offer.
Market analysts in the gaming industry track changes in audience behavior and develop the necessary strategies to achieve them. You need an eye for trends, an ability to budget, and may even be called upon to forecast for release. This is a career choice for passionate gamers who have their finger on the pulse of the industry.
But maybe the ultimate dream job in gaming is tester. Testers give development teams the fresh eyes they need to bring a well-formed game to market ahead of a final release.
They must be experienced players first and foremost, but with a keen eye for detail to spot inconsistencies, glitches and errors. It’s also a role that requires good communication skills, as testers need to report their findings back to the team behind a game.
Gaming is global, so testers who are fluent in many languages are needed to perfect games for different markets. For example, Dublin-based game studio Keywords Studios is currently looking for game testers in French, Portuguese, Polish, Turkish, Czech and many other languages.
Testers can expect the job to be more of a short-term gig with flexible contracts dictated by project needs, but it can certainly be a fun way to make a living if you’re a very hard-working gamer.
And it can be a way to improve your skills as a professional gamer. The phenomenal growth of esports has seen many talented gamers embark on careers in playing games competitively for prizes and sponsorships.
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