So you’re a hardcore gamer and you want a career that reflects your passion for interactive entertainment? It’s never been easier to get involved in the industry that you love, and there are plenty of job opportunities out there. You just need to get your act together and take the plunge.
If you want to get your foot in the door with a games developer, becoming a quality assurance (QA) tester is arguably the best way to go about it. But be warned, this isn’t just an easy ride that involves playing the latest triple A titles all day; it can be gruelling in the early stages.
As a tester you’ll be responsible for going through games which are still in development with a fine-toothed comb, picking out the bugs, describing them accurately and logging them so that the coders can come up with a way to fix them.
The good news is that you don’t need a gaming-specific degree or programming experience to get involved. You just need to have excellent attention to detail and a deep-seated adoration for gaming.
Plenty of the industry’s leading lights kicked off their careers as lowly QA testers, including Hearthstone head honcho Ben Brode. So this really is a viable starting point on your road to the top.
In the internet age, marketing is more interesting and multifaceted than ever. And if you’re devoted to gaming, then being able to express this by promoting the next big releases could be the gateway to a satisfying career.
A quick look at the open positions at Casumo and other emerging developers offer at the moment will reveal the extent of the opportunities available. You could get creative by writing copy to help market games of all types across every platform and genre. You could manage SEO for a company’s website, or take control of its social media strategy to make sure its products reach and engage with the right audiences.
Although there are some home-grown gaming successes that don’t rely on marketing, not every title can be the next Minecraft. So the chances are that some of your favourite franchises have only survived this long thanks to the efforts of the marketing team. If you want to put your imagination to good use but aren’t interested in design or development, this is the way to go.
You’re probably aware that the leading lights of the content creation community surrounding videogames are multimillionaires and international celebrities. And it is still possible for relative newcomers to get catapulted into the spotlight and make huge sums from Twitch subscriptions each month.
This kind of ascent isn’t a realistic end goal for most people, just like not everyone who plays football with their mates on a Saturday afternoon has a shot of becoming a Premier League superstar. But this emerging market is so broad and expansive that there are hundreds of niche opportunities that can still turn into a rewarding career.
You might decide to build your own audience playing the games you love in your spare time, or take the slightly more stable route of using your other talents to get involved in content creation. This could include editing videos to help fuel the output of established personalities, running social media accounts or managing other aspects of their professional lives and public profiles.
Always fancied yourself as the next George R. R. Martin or Iain M. Banks, but found that you get more out of storytelling in an interactive medium than you do from novels? Perhaps you should think about becoming the person who comes up with the narrative concepts and scripts that are essential to thousands of modern titles.
Terry Pratchett’s daughter Rhianna is an established writer in the world of gaming, creating the successful modern interpretation of Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft that has gone on to spawn its own movie spin-off. So even people who have books in their blood can turn their talents to games.
What makes being a game writer even more interesting is that you can tell stories in a range of different ways that don’t rely on traditional tropes and techniques.
Some games go for the all-out cinematic approach, but with branching dialogue trees and multiple endings; think Mass Effect. Others leave the players to learn as much or as little about the lore of the world as they wish, dropping clues and using item descriptions and other arcane methods to build a story; think Dark Souls.
Scripting a game can actually involve a lot more work than writing a book, at least in terms of the volumes of text that are required in dialogue-heavy titles. The Witcher 3 ran to almost half a million words. So if you’ve got a lot to say, this is the career for you!