Games development jobs mix technical skills with creativity, including elements of coding as well as artistic skills.
Job roles in the games industry
It goes without saying that you need to be able to work effectively as part of a team as it takes a range of people to take a game from its original conception through to a finished product. Some roles are more artistic than others and the team members involved include those in design, audio and content; technical programmers / coders and also testers to spot any glitches and ensure the quality of the game.
There are a variety of routes into the industry, from full time games development FE college courses and apprenticeships to degrees – one thing that is going to be vital though is having a portfolio to show your work to prospective employers.
Moving On spoke to Jonathan Rudd, a developer for Oculus Rift, a virtual reality gaming headset. Jonathon was always interested in animation and whilst studying for his A-levels he decided to go down the artistic media route, teaching himself Adobe After Effects whilst studying. He went on to study digital media production at the Arts University Bournemouth, where he thrived on the course and had the opportunity to use a variety of hardware and software, including 3D animation package Maya. In his second year, the course introduced him to the Oculus Rift and he decided that he wanted to work in games development.
The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset. You wear it, and immediately you are immersed into a 3D environment. The headset itself contains a small screen which displays a double image of what the user can see, one image for each of your eyes, so when you look through the headset, the two images become one. The picture below may explain this little better.
The headset has a gyroscopic sensor which detects head movements, then sends messages and data back to the software to interpret the data. This allows for fully responsive head tracking. The current development kit also has an extra feature with a camera that can track the position of whoever is wearing the Rift. This allows for extra movement such as leaning forwards, and moving your shoulders around.
Jonathan has been developing experiences and games for the Oculus Rift for about a year and has integrated his own interests into each of the projects. The first experience was a rollercoaster; this was a solo project that Jonathan created for University. This involved designing the rollercoaster, the layout and filling it with scenery.
Jonathan’s next project was a game called Oculus Snap. The goal of the game is to take photos of animals while you travel along a set route; in this case, a rainforest and Jonathan created the environment and added animated animals as well as coding the system.
Advice on getting into games development
The advice that Jonathon has for anybody wanting to work in the industry is to learn how to communicate your ideas, whether this is through drawing, animation or modelling. Also, although at university you will be taught what you need to know; learning some software such as Photoshop or Maya will give you a head start. Setting up a blog and using social media, such as Linkedin and Hive to showcase your work and network is also important. Finally, learn how to learn – if you can work out how you learn something you will be better at learning independently, which is good because your school or college will be unlikely to teach you all of the software and skills you want to develop. Visit our media and arts industry page to find out about lots of other related careers.