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Getting into the games industry

Video games are a creative product. In this article, we'll explore the many creative roles you can find in a professional video game setting.
Woman Coding on Computer
© University of York; Tania Dales

There are many exciting and fulfilling roles available in the video game industry. Video games are a creative product and so there are, of course, many creative roles in a professional video game setting. But there are also administrative and management roles that make up a vital component of the production team.

Portfolio

Regardless of what role you decide to apply for, if you’re going to be involved in the game building process you will be expected to have game development knowledge and experience.

However, you don’t necessarily need qualifications or a CV that is filled with relevant work experience, but you will need something to showcase your skills and suitability for the job: your portfolio. Luckily, this is something that you can develop at home on your own with the help of online tutorials, perseverance and a dedicated amount of time.

Unreal Engine gives indie developers access to a wealth of learning materials and challenges that you can get involved in too. Game development is a rewarding skill and is particularly suited towards individuals who thrive on problem-solving and evolving their practice. There are game development events that encourage developers to create content and share it. Game Jam is a global game development hackathon that runs frequent events, it is a good opportunity to create content for a cause that can be used in a portfolio and boosts your creative confidence! You can find game jams listed on sites such as itch.io and Indie Game Jams.

Job fairs, conferences and opportunities

There are many opportunities for networking and industry experience available. Digital job fairs and conferences specific to the game industry are a great way to begin exploring your options. Games Jobs Live runs free online job fairs and events for game developers throughout the year, these include events targeted for entry level roles, internships, and both in house and remote.

In 2021, they held an online event introducing video game companies who were looking for individuals experienced in Unreal Engine, to which Epic Games, Huey, Aardman Animation and Axis Studios attended. Indie developers were given the opportunity to listen to presentations given by these companies as they discussed what it is they look for in a potential employee. A discord server was also set up with individual rooms for each company, allowing developers to ask questions and receive sought after answers.

So what roles are available?

The roles available are usually skill and interest specific, every aspect of a video game from environment to sound is complicated and involves a lot of attention to detail so a team of individuals working on different areas of development is preferred. In the opening to this learning block we asked you to complete a poll about your own interests in video game development. This is because anyone interested in the video game industry should consider what areas of design and development they are most attracted to. For example;

  • Someone who appreciates aesthetically stunning and impressive environments should consider the role of environment artist.
  • An individual who is inspired by mellifluous soundscapes might enjoy the role of a sound designer.
  • For the more technically than visually minded, a role as a designer/programmer might be a good route to explore.

It may feel intimidating starting off but it is an incredibly rewarding journey to follow if you have the passion for creating video games and want to become a part of a creative, driven team. We suggest that moving onwards you focus on building your portfolio. If you haven’t got a lot of experience it is good to create games for the sake of educating yourself in the softwares and processes.

Once you are ready you can begin considering your specific skill and the role which sits best alongside that. Keep in mind that your portfolio should reflect the role and company you are applying for, if the company you want to work for produces realistic, 3D games you might want to steer clear of 2-Bit arcade pieces in that application.

© University of York; Tania Dales
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