Think video game jobs are all fun? Think again

Think a job in the video game business will involve shooting monsters and taking on virtual missions all day, every day? Think again.

David Hodgson, an author of "Paid to Play: An Insider's Guide to Video Games Careers," says the hours are long, deadlines strict, the work can be monotonous and, in the case of programmers, the pay starts at around $50,000 a year -- below that of other high-tech industries.

"It's not like working in the industry is sitting around playing video games," said Hodgson, a long-time video game journalist, who penned the book with author and game designer Bryan Stratton and career counselor Alice Rush.

The good news is that jobs can be creative, varied and rewarding and there are as many video game careers as there are ways of breaking into the business.

"There are multiple paths, which is the best news around," said Hodgson, who gathered information for his book from 100 industry insiders with careers ranging from testing, design and sound to publishing, management, journalism, retail and professional gaming.

Hodgson said the first requirement is to know yourself. The book gives aspiring game makers the tools for self-assessment.

"I would recommend people look at what their strengths are," Hodgson said in a telephone interview.

Programmers, for example, require a specific set of skills and may benefit from a college education, with video game specific college programs cropping up faster than innocent victims in "Grand Theft Auto."

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Antan4393d ago

"It's not like working in the industry is sitting around playing video games,"

only sometimes!

MicroGamer4393d ago

and he spends more time writing reports for his bosses than he does actually playing the games and when he does play the games, he is expected to find every possible thing a player can find in the game from power ups to secret areas to Easter eggs. He is also expected to do things the normal gamer might not do in order to find potential bugs that may only show up in certain situations. He is also expected to play the game through from beginning to end, so he can't play it and then say "Well, I got stuck at this point" he has to find the way to the end within the time he is given, no excuses. So if you think being a play tester is your dream job, think again.

JasonXE4393d ago (Edited 4393d ago )

He was kind of bleminhing on the fact about 50k a yr. It is usually 30k a year doing the grunts work if your a programmer. The last thing I want to do is waste my computer science degree to get crap pay for overnights. The best way is to find friends who knows C++ (or whatever lang.), artists and start your own production. If the work between your friends can produce next gen stuff for consoles then you can find a publisher. Sometimes not even next gen but good Arcade titles. There are sure to be adults out there that are working on the XNA tool to get themselves notice or the publishers to notice them. Everything else then takes care of itself... It be easier just to get a government job or write your own file database which is crap pay at first but eventually you'll make huge money. If you ask most people though, you don't find careers in the videogames department. It's more like a long temp job that can be fun at times.

UrbanJabroni4392d ago

"If the work between your friends can produce next gen stuff for consoles then you can find a publisher"

Not going to happen. Since the PS1 years this has happened what, maybe twice? I'm not saying that XNA won't provide a _few_ potential games, but if you make a game yourself looking for huge success you are in for massive dissapointment. Indie games, and there are some great ones (Def Con for instance) are not big money makers nor do they in any way guarantee you'll get a publisher.

When I was just out of college I felt the exact same way you do, but unfortunately the economics of the industry are stacked against you. :(

Second, not sure which companies you are looking at, but programming jobs, even Engineers in test, start out well above 30k.

Finally, I've found working in games to be hugely rewarding. It isn't all playing, of course, but at the end of the day you get to contribute to a _video game_. The long hours are present at any software company, and making a game is much more interesting than some database interface utility.

Grown Folks Talk4393d ago

a lot of pressure, high stress, and less fun than 1 would think. it's video games, but it's still a business. all comes down to $$$.

speed4393d ago

Man, I don't know about that. I was a programmer (Java,C,VB) for about 8 yrs (now I do more QA/BA) and I can say I started out much higher than that. Most programmers today know what to expect when taking the plunge into the video game industry, LONG hours and many weekends, not-so-great paychecks, and typically very little appreciation for your contributions. If you like having somewhat of a personal life, its not the best career choice. If you are a single parent, don't count on being there much for your kiddo(s). Hardcore high-profit companies will burn out many new guys within months of them starting. The positive news is that more programmers are standing up for themselves and demanding to be treated like human beings and some companies are starting to lessen the strangle somewhat.