Gaming and games development is big business! Moving On visited the EGX computer gaming expo at the NEC in Birmingham to ask the experts about jobs and careers in the gaming and games development industry.
Job prospects in the global gaming and games development market
The global gaming and games development market is expected to be worth $102bn by 2017 and more computer games were sold in 2014 than DVDs or CDs. There are estimated to be 33.5 million games players in the UK and the UK gaming industry alone is worth over £3.9 billion. With approximately 1,900 video games companies in the UK and a market that is growing by around 22 per cent year-on-year, the UK gaming and games development industry is a significant and fast-growing area of employment.
Jobs within the gaming and games development industry are as varied as the industry itself. Actors are needed for motion capture and voiceover work and other roles include concept artist, animation programmer, AI designer, audio engineer, web designer and PR and marketing officer.
Where can I find jobs in gaming and games development?
There are 12 identified ‘hubs’ for games development in Brighton, Cambridge, Cardiff, Guildford and Aldershot, Edinburgh, Dundee, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield and Rotherham and Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon. The advice from the experts is to find out which gaming and games development companies are near to you or which ones you might like to work for and connect with them via social media. Follow what they are doing and show them that you are passionate.
Show off your gaming and games development skills by modifying existing games which is known as modding or by creating your own games. Moving On spoke to Rob Saxton, technical director of Aniode, a new Southampton-based indie gaming and games development company at the EGX show in Birmingham, where he was showcasing the company’s latest game, Nature’s Zombie Apocalypse.
Rob explained how he got into gaming and games development and passed on a bit of advice. “I studied maths at Southampton and decided that I wanted to develop games so I taught myself to code and I made a video game so that I had something to put on my CV which showed what I could do.”
Rob was keen to make young hopefuls aware that when it comes to coding, it’s important that you can show what you are capable of. He also stressed the importance to aspiring game designers, of building a portfolio which showcases their gaming and games development ideas and design skills. Rob works with Richard Hawkins, games designer and artist, mostly via Skype. Rob does all the programming and Richard, who has a degree in animation and worked as a graphic designer before moving into games, does all the animation using Modo.
Rob was particularly keen to express how happy he is to see coding enter the school curriculum, saying that “we should have had coding in schools years ago, rather than focusing on writing reports and making presentations.”
Working in the gaming and games development industry as an indie games developer can be a bit of a lonely job, so Rob recommends gaming meet-ups, where you can get together with other gamers and games developers to co-work at a venue. These meet-ups could involve indie developers who want to discuss and share their gaming and games development ideas. A meet-up could be useful for people who specifically use Unity or a Women in Games (WIGJ) meet-up could prove invaluable for females who want a career in gaming and games development. Meet-ups give people who want to work in the industry the opportunity to meet video games professionals and to network with others who want to work in the world of gaming and games development.
Qualification routes into game development
What you choose to study will depend on what you want to do within the gaming and games development industry and whether you want to work in gaming PR, the legal side of the sector, in finance or in games development. After GCSEs, there are various options available to you, including doing an apprenticeship in Creative and Digital Media, studying A-levels or an extended diploma in games design / development or gaining a qualification in animation or music. You could then choose to do an HND, a foundation degree or a full honours degree.
Getting a degree in computer science can be helpful if you are looking to work in the mainstream gaming and games development industry but the advice that comes from everyone is “make stuff and play stuff” and being able to sell yourself and your skills with a good portfolio is vital. A good plan might be to search for jobs and find out what is being asked for, whether it’s experience with C++ or HTML5. If you know what the industry standard is then make sure you can use it. It’s also well worth searching for trainee or intern programmes in the industry.