Contrary to some perceptions, careers in the gaming industry can be both rewarding and lucrative. And while the end result of gaming projects might be hours of leisurely couch-time for the consumer, producing successful game titles requires levels of talent, commitment and pure hard graft to equal some of the toughest industries out there.
The rewards, however, both in terms of salary and job satisfaction, continue to make this an extremely sought-after industry among young graduates from a variety of professions. Here are 6 reasons why a career in the gaming industry should not be written off:
The industry is big business, one of the largest in the world
Predicted to reach an annual worth of US$93.18 billion by 2019, it is fair to say that the digital gaming industry has taken the world by storm. There are excellent global employment opportunities for artists, animators, writers, actors, sound engineers, designers and programmers with a passion for gaming. This is not to mention all the other professions that make this massive industry tick.
Global e-commerce intelligence organisation, yStats has pointed out that digital gaming revenues already account for a double-digit share of the gaming revenues worldwide and are forecast to see their share rise further.
“Mobile games are the brightest performer: gaming revenues via smartphones are forecasted to double through 2017, while gaming revenues via tablets are expected to triple,” it reported.
The rise in popularity of gaming is particularly pronounced in the Asia Pacific region. Even back in 2014, China was home to several hundred million online gamers, amounting to over half of the region’s internet users. Meanwhile, Southeast Asian markets are drawing the attention of Asian and international gaming companies, with close to a hundred million gamers residing in the area.
The gaming industry is a hotbed of creative talent
The gaming industry is a huge employer for graduates with a creative bent. More and more universities are offering programs aimed at the industry, covering subjects such as digital animation, 3D modelling, game art and programming for gaming. On top of that, many musicians and voice actors have made their name with their work in the industry, while big budget titles are attracting big ‘Hollywood’ names to their credit rolls. Typically, game developers create almost everything from scratch, including the format, layout, and aesthetics of the games, including the characters and storylines, creating myriad opportunities for creative graduates.
There are a host of video games which has made it into the big screen with Hollywood adaptations, namely Tomb Raider, Hitman, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Final Fantasy, Warcraft, and many more that have become blockbusters at the box office. Many of the video game characters created become household names and icons that will spill over to other industries such as toys and merchandising.
Excellent job prospects and salaries
According to website creative industry career website animationcareerreview.com, the growth employment rate in the software development industry is projected to expand by 22 percent between 2012 and 2022, a rate which is faster than all other occupations.
In the United States alone, the website listed 10 metropolitan areas which currently offered the highest employment levels of all metro areas across the country. They listed California, Washington, Texas, New York, and Virginia as the top five states with the highest employment levels for developers.
Yes, this is a competitive industry, but employment industries are growing fast. Further, it can offer excellent salaries. For example, salaries for game artists start at around US$30,000 annually for entry-level art positions. This can grow to as much as US$90,000 a year or higher for senior art positions. Generally, a game artist’s salary will depend on factors like experience, expertise and seniority of the job title. The more experience you have, the higher your pay is likely to be.
For graphics programmers, meanwhile, the typical annual salary for a graphics/games programmer ranges from US$60-US$120k per year, depending on level of expertise and experience.
Become a part of ‘geek’ history
Those who have explored deeper into the world of video games should be well-versed with ‘geek’ trivia, such as true inception of what has become one of the largest global industries, which points back to American physicist, William Higinbothan, in the 1950s.
It turns out that the possibility of video games was discovered by accident in the Brookhaven National Laboratory, USA, 1958, while Higinbothan read over an instruction manual for an analogue computer. Included in the manual are instructions on how a computer can be used to produce curves on an oscilloscope screen simulating missile trajectories and bouncing balls. The balls reminded Higinbothan of a game of tennis – one of the most popular games of the time – and gave the physicist an epiphany for what was to become a ground-breaking creation.
Higinbothan never could have predicted the impact his game would have – hundreds queued up to take a look at the “digital magic”, and he had unknowingly created the pioneering product for a global industry that is estimated to be worth over a hundred billion in the coming years.
There are loads of education options
Forward-thinking educators around the world have seen the huge potential of the gaming industry in recent years, adding excellent and affordable programs for would-be gaming industry professionals. These are as broad-ranging as the opportunities in the industry itself, and run the gamut of disciplines from coding and level design to concept art and marketing.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
Bachelor of Creative Technologies in Game Art
The study of Game Art means learning to design the beautiful and intricate environments featured within the game. It’s about creating encapsulating settings, believable characters, and above all, immersive experiences for an industry that is already bigger than the music and movie sectors combined. From 2D platformers to 3D brawlers, students devise and produce their own interactive stories, digital illustrations, concept art and games that will be admired by a global audience of computer game enthusiasts.
Bachelor of Software Engineering in Game Programming
If you have a keen interest in game programming, you are probably a hands-on learner. A programmer in-training will code, craft, and in the end graduate with an unparalleled gaming portfolio. The best schools insist their programming students work in mixed teams, mimicking the conditions found at real game studios so graduates hit the ground running in their first job.
Diploma in Digital Creativity
Here is an example of a course that is slightly more extensive, specially designed for students who are passionate about the creative industries but are not quite sure where they want to specialise. Students can experiment in the fields of graphic and interactive design, motion graphics and 3D modelling. This kind of course can be the perfect testing ground for students who want to find their path in the gaming or digital animation industries.
Those are just some of the excellent gaming-related courses out there. We recommend you check out these schools for more options…
Media Design School, Auckland – New Zealand
The Media Design School is widely regarded as New Zealand’s best tertiary institution for creative and digital technology qualifications, offering a range of courses in Game Art, Game Programming,Graphic Design, Creative Advertising, Motion Graphics, Interactive Design, and 3D Animation and Visual Effects. The School is situated in a state-of-the-art high rise building in the heart of Auckland’s buzzing Central Business District. The School boasts ultra-modern, industry-aligned software and technology that enables students to build the characters, creatures and campaigns that embody their unique imagination. Read the full profile…
Griffith Film School, Griffith University, Queensland – Australia
The Griffith Film School prepares the next generation of filmmakers, animators and game designers for creative and exciting careers within the international business of film, television and digital screen media creation. Students of Griffith Film School get the opportunity to learn from some of the most distinguished and notable experts, visiting professors, fellows and tutors within the disciplines of drama, documentary, television, animation, games and interactive entertainment. It is one of the largest film schools in the country, providing a unique focus for Australia’s creative arts.
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) – Hong Kong
SCAD offers Hong Kong’s largest concentration of art and design degree programs in the heart of the Sham Shui Po district, where a fusion of ancient heritage and Western influence inspires visitors from around the globe. SCAD offers students every resource imaginable in the UNESCO award-winning former North Kowloon Magistracy building, a grand courthouse fully restored and revitalized by the university. Features of the transformation include a library, digital labs and studios, darkrooms, a green screen studio, and sound design and editing suites.
SAE Institute: Creative Media Education – United Kingdom
SAE Institute was founded in 1976 and has since grown to become the world’s largest, industry-focussed creative media educator with 54 campuses in 26 countries. The School’s curriculum has been carefully crafted in consultation with leading industry practitioners to meet the requirements of the global creative media industries. SAE offers a comprehensive course portfolio in creative media fields with a strong tradition of practical application and industry recognition. With campuses in London, Oxford, Liverpool and Glasgow, SAE represents the UK’s premier provider of creative media education.
The Art Institute of California, Argosy University – United States
The Art Institutes is a system of over 50 schools throughout North America. These Schools live for creativity, and provide the guidance, technology, creative focus and career advice students need to thrive in this competitive industry. Teachers are mentors, subject experts, leaders, and teachers. They’re also professionals with experience outside of the classroom— and they’re shaping how and what students learn, to help ensure that their education is relevant, current, and challenging.