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Exploring different career paths in the gaming industry

This post has been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.
Editor's Note from Stephanie Carmichael:
Cassie examines the different ways that people of all talents can break into the game industry -- with tips on how.

When most people imagine careers in the video game industry, they immediately think of developers. As the medium grows more popular, more jobs are opening up in the field. Tons of careers are available, and there’s something for just about everyone.

Composer

Greg Edmonson

Above: Greg Edmonson

A lot of people, composers included, don’t think about creating music for video games. When I attended PAX East this year, Greg Edmonson (Uncharted, Firefly), said that he never thought about composing for games until Amy Hennig at Naughty Dog asked him if he would be interested.

If you or someone you know is interested in composing music, video games are a great place to look. After all, many games are a lot like movies nowadays. A great way to get started is to compose music for a friend who is making a small indie game.

Developer

This one is the most obvious: If you want to work in the game industry, make video games. While going to school to become a triple-A developer is an option, it is becoming increasingly easier to become an independent developer.

Ouya, the first Android-based console, is an excellent tool for creating games. Doing so is absolutely free, and it’s a great way to get started. Steam Greenlight is another way to get your game out there.

Marketing

Amy Hennig

Above: Amy Hennig

Image Credit: Naughty Dog

With so many new titles coming out every month, marketing is very important. If you don’t promote your game enough, even if it’s good, it will fall in the shadows of the big games that have a lot of PR behind them.

Based on what I have read, publishers are the ones that hire for marketing and PR positions in the game industry. If you’re interested in working in marketing, you must first know about marketing in general if you hope to land your dream job.

Journalist

The term is “games journalist,” and for those who know nothing about the industry, this sounds like a made-up job. It is, in fact, very real, and it’s becoming an increasingly competitive field. Getting into games journalism is all about who you know.

My dream job is to be a freelance game journalist. I run a blog at poppycockreviews.com, and I also submit content to this site, which allows the community to upload their own articles. If you’re lucky, an editor will pick your article for the front page of the website and promote it through Facebook and Twitter. (I have been fortunate enough to have six articles promoted to the front page.)

I would advise anyone who is interested in games journalism to submit their work (feature articles are best when getting started) to a site like GamesBeat, start a personal blog where you can display your work, and most importantly, read articles written by professional journalists. Reading other people’s work will help you understand what you need to do to improve and possibly give you inspiration for a new article.

Tester

A lot of people see this as a dream job: “I can play video games for a living! Sign me up!” However, in order to be a video game tester, you must be very good at playing all kinds of games, demonstrate an outstanding attention to detail, and have lots and lots of patience.

Many forget that testers don’t just play the good games; they also have to play the really, really bad ones. They must be able to find the flaws in order for developers to fix them before a title releases. This job isn’t easygoing, but it can be a great fit for some.

Voice actor

Nolan North

Above: Nolan North

This profession is similar to composing in that a lot of voice actors only think of television and movies as sources of income. Look at Nolan North. He is one of today’s most popular voice actors, and most of his work has been in video games.

If you’re interested in a career in the game industry, you have many options to choose from. My best advice would be to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into before you start seriously pursuing a career in your chosen field. A lot of people are naive when it comes to the game industry as it is relatively new. Whatever you choose, good luck!


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