Game design careers are some of the hottest careers available right now. Many young people grow up playing video games-on their computers, with friends, in arcades, on cell phones-and dream of sharing their own interactive gaming creations with the world. And just imagine how fun it would be to sit around all day and dream up new kinds of games, and to create photorealistic 3D worlds in which people can immerse themselves and go on adventures.
The number of video games sold in 2008 was FOUR TIMES the number sold in 1996. And the number of video game platforms keeps rising as well. Video games reach audiences of young people as well as adults; in fact, the average age of a gamer is thirty-five, much older than the teenagers that video games are often associated with. Some studies have even indicated that as many as twenty-five percent of all gamers are fifty years old or older.
So how can you cash in on these trends and make a lot of money as a video game designer? First, it’s probably a good idea to move to, or within commuting distance of, a large city, as the largest video game design companies tend to be in urban areas, especially in New York and California. You’ll also want to get as much training as you can before you embark upon your career. There are several colleges and universities that offer majors in video game design, and the number is likely to increase by a lot in coming years, given how strong the demand for these degrees is. You don’t have to have a degree in video game design to work in the industry, however. You do have to have sharp technical skills, and a real eye for design and animation. When you go searching for that first job, you can apply to large companies or to small firms (or you might want to send resumes out wherever you can). Large companies might offer better salaries and more benefits, but some of the most exciting work out there is being done at small start-ups, where video gaming wizards are trying to conquer the world with their exciting ideas. You might find the work environment at a start-up to be more to your liking as well-you might be able to dress casually and set your own hours, for example.
Maybe the best idea is to take a job wherever you can and create the best work you’re capable of every day. Once you have experience and some credits under your belt, you’ll have a portfolio that could win you a job at the company of your choice. Keep in mind, too, that you might have to start out in a position like “quality tester”-where you just play games to make sure they work correctly-before you can get hired for such prestigious positions as animator, programmer, or even producer.