working in the gaming industry

How to Turn Your Gaming Hobby into a Successful Career

Video games are a popular hobby for people around the world. If you already have a passion for gaming, why not turn it into a career? Jobs in the video game industry are financially viable opportunities. You don’t need to become a video game developer and learn code to work in this field either. 

Why Consider Working in the Gaming Industry?

The gaming industry has grown to a $200 billion giant from its humble beginnings of Pac-Man from the 1970s. Those are numbers that would get noticed in virtually every industry. Gaming has been growing rapidly over the past decade with improved technologies that’s made it possible to stream and play games online against working in the gaming industry players around the world.

It has become a widely accepted past-time and can even make a decent income from being a professional gamer. Electronic sports or Esports is a type of competition where professional gamers play against each other. Winners typically receive cash prizes at the end of tournaments.

With all this buzz and excitement, now is a great time to find jobs in the video game industry. Not sure what game industry jobs look for? Or who the best companies are in the industry? We’ll talk about both in the coming sections. 

Game Industry Jobs

The sky’s the limit when it comes to opportunities in the gaming industry. Gaming companies have teams of staff that work on all levels of game design. From conceptualizing ideas to the product launch, many different departments touch a game before players can get their hands on it. 

If those jobs don’t fit what you are looking for, then there are other ways to monetize gaming too. You’ll have to be really good at a certain game or be entertaining for those opportunities.

Here are jobs to consider in the video game industry for your career path explained below:

Professional Gamer

You can make money as a professional eSports athlete in a lot of different ways. Professional gamers must be signed by a team. This term is just like how basketball athletes get signed with an NBA team to start making money to play. 

Getting signed with a team opens the doors to many different sources of income. Just like any other job, teams will pay their players a monthly salary. Depending on the team, it could be a fixed or variable amount. Most pro gamers earn between $1,000 and $5,000 per month. These salaries are dependent on the player’s track record of victory and having a high social following. 

Gamers also get paid for winning tournaments. The top prizes for tournaments have been as high as $200,000 for a single win. International tournaments can often well over a million dollars. 

Other sources of income may include bonuses (typically after a victory), sponsors, and streaming. If you’re really good, you can make a ton of money as a pro gamer. The average gamer makes $60,000 a year. 

Video Game Developer

If creating video games is where your passion lies, becoming a developer might be up your alley. It would be best if you had many technical skills for this job that you can gain through education or training.

Working as a developer requires a lot of patience and an aptitude for programming. Much of the job entails troubleshooting errors that are hard to find and solve problems. 

Developing games usually requires a large team of people and modern video games have a lot of elements. Online gameplay, 3D graphics, customer game physics, and AI are all examples. Developers must face complex computer science problems.

As a result, it’s common for developers to have a specialized role in the software development process. These could include roles in gameplay, UI, game engine, physics, graphics, AI, and audio. Smaller and indie projects may have a generalist that does all of these things.

Most of the biggest gaming companies have their own in-house development teams. But you can also become a contractor by working for companies that don’t have their teams. The salary of a freelance game developer is roughly $93,000, while employees earn an average of $102,00 per year. 

Video Game Tester

You can also get paid to test games as a game tester. This job is actually a real job, and there are tons of people who are getting paid to do this. It’s important to understand what becoming a videogame tester really means before you start applying. 

These jobs are very similar to working in quality assurance. To make money or get paid to test games, you work specifically on checking for issues in the game. For example, this could be a program glitch or non-functioning visual effects. 

Beyond that, testers must ensure the game works the way it was designed to. The testers usually have to play through the same level of a game multiple times in a row. While doing this, they must cross-check that it functions how it is detailed in the plan by the development team. 

The biggest gaming companies such as Nintendo, Sony, and Electronic Arts (EA) are among the publishers that hire video testers. There is a wide range of salaries for video game testers. 

Although the average salary for full-time testers is roughly $73,000, entry-level positions are usually much less. If you’re looking for a way to get into the industry, this is a reasonable step to take. Another thing to keep in mind is that jobs are cyclical. You will likely need to move from company to company throughout your career. 

Game Streamer

Becoming a professional eSports player is hard because you have to be a really good player to make it. That’s why many players opt to become game streamers instead. 

You don’t have to be a great player to make a career out of streaming. What you do have to be good at is entertaining people. That’s because the game streamers that make the most money have large audiences that watch their content. 

Streamers make money in a lot of different ways, just like professional gamers. They can earn money through sponsorships, ads, paid subscriptions, merchandise, and donations. 

To get started as a game streamer, you must pick a platform to stream your content. YouTube and Twitch are among the most popular options. Twitch is more geared toward the gaming community, however. For example, you can ask for donations through Twitch. It is a viable source of income for many streamers who receive this support from fans who enjoy watching their streams.

You’ll also need the right equipment. If you plan to stream console games, you’ll need a console system. Or if it’s PC games, a solid gaming computer. Having a strong internet connection is also important to avoid your streams from buffering. Other items include streaming software, a microphone, and webcam, and a capture card. 

Video Game Writer

To become a video game writer, the main skill you need to have is creative writing. There isn’t a standard way to get into the career, so you won’t have a defined path like you as a developer to get into the field. 

What is helpful is to start writing to build your portfolio, published or not. That shows potential employees that you have a level of dedication and gives them a sense of your writing voice. Working with a small or independent team might also help get into game writing. Staff on these small teams often have to handle several roles, leading to you taking on the writing responsibilities. 

It’s also valuable to have experience in game design. That’s because there are fewer games that are heavily story-driven. That means there aren’t as many full-time jobs for writers available. 

Video games have dialogue that happens between characters throughout the game. Video game writers are the ones who not only write this dialogue but also develop the stories that video games tell. 

Since each video game has a different setting, a video game writer must do extensive research to understand the period and concepts of the game. Ideas are shared among the team that works on a video game, but the writer collects them and puts them together into a plot. Once the production is near completion, writers will play the game to make sure the story works well throughout the game. 

The salaries of a video game writer are comparable to those of writers in other industries. You can expect to make around $51,000 per year. If you go the freelance route, you can choose your projects and work remotely. Working for an employer gives you the perks of health insurance and other employer benefits. 

Video Game Animator

Artists can get into the industry by becoming video game animators. You get to combine art and technology to create the environments where the game takes place, the models which become the characters, and their movements or behaviors. 

Using storytelling skills to portray their game designs and movie production skills, including texture and lighting, animators work on all aspects of animation associated with the game. You need to have strong communication skills to work with animators and artists who also work on the project. 

To get into the field, you don’t necessarily have to have a bachelor’s degree, though it’s fairly common for animators to have this. You will need to have skills in computer graphics, art, animation, or illustration. 

Try to get as much experience as you can to build your portfolio to help you get in this field. You might need to do some volunteer work, freelance, or accept an entry-level position. The technology for video game animation changes fast so you’ll need to keep up with these changes too. 

As a video game animator, you could be working a lot of hours, including evenings and weekends, to meet tight deadlines. The average salary is around $64,000 for these multimedia artists. 

Best Gaming Companies to Work For

Established game companies bring in steady and high incomes. There always seems to be a new studio that pops up to vie for its share of these deep gaming pockets. Most of them will not make it through. 

When you want to work in the video game industry, having a stable job matters a lot more, so here’s a list of the best gaming companies to work for that you’ll be likely to enjoy a long-term career with:

Activision Blizzard

World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, Overwatch, StarCraft, and World of Warcraft are among its most famous games. It also owns Activision Publishing, King, Major League Gaming, Activision Blizzard Studios, and other large game companies. Activision Blizzard has received recognition for being one of the best places to work from Fortune and People’s Magazine.

Riot Games

This Los Angeles-based company is most known for the game League of Legends. They are one of the pioneers and success stories of the “games as a service” business model.” Riot also manages a number of international esports league competitions. They haven’t been able to replicate its success with League of Legends to make another hit game, but they have resources to keep at it. 

Epic Games

Founded in 1991, Epic is still run by its founder Tim Sweeney today. Epic develops and sells the most popular game engine that’s used in the world, called the Unreal Engine. The company employs over 1,000 across the globe. 

Bungie

Early in its history, Bungie was successful with developing 3D games for Macs. After being bought by Microsoft in 2000, they launched Halo, which is the Xbox’s franchise game. It became independent again in 2007. They are headquartered in Bellevue, Washington. 

Electronic Arts

This Redwood City, California company is behind hits like Star Wars, Dragon Age, The Sims, Need for Speed, Battlefield, and Madden. Its early life was in personal computer gaming. Since then, it has grown to one of the largest gaming companies with almost 10,000 employees worldwide. 

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