The video game industry has come a long way since the days of Pong and Duck Hunt. What was once an industry aimed almost exclusively toward children and teenagers has evolved into a multi-billion dollar entity comparable at times to the movie and television industry. The old mainstay that video gamers are just grown-ups who refuse to put away childish things has been completely obliterated by the fact that millions of successful adults across the globe consider themselves hardcore gaming fanatics. Furthermore, many children who grew up with a love of gaming ended up pursuing a career within the industry, proving nagging parents across the world wrong once more. If you have the talent, passion, and drive to dedicate your life to video games, you might find yourself working as a:
Video Game Artist
Remember when your teacher used to tell you to put away your sketchbook full of awesome cartoons and characters? Take it back out immediately. Every video game needs talented artists to bring the designer’s ideas to life by creating vivid characters and environments from scratch. Game artists also must be able to animate their creations in a life-like manner if they wish to immerse their audience in the world they’ve created. Harnessing your artistic talents to create video game characters can net you around $50,000 yearly.
Audio engineers are responsible for recording a game’s music, sound effects, and voice overs. While this may have been a fairly simply task back in the days of the original Super Mario Bros., nowadays video games include fully orchestrated soundtracks and A-list celebrity character roles, so it’s no easy feat. Audio programmers work tirelessly to create the perfect ambiance throughout a gaming experience. Some of the most accomplished audio programmers can pull in over $100,000 yearly for their work.
Another position which used to be fairly straightforward, writing for video games has become much more complex throughout the years. Today, video game scripts can be thousands of pages long; and the lines aren’t cookie-cutter, off-the-cuff remarks, either. Writers have to create dynamic characters that react uniquely in different situations while staying true to the essence of their personality. They also are responsible for all of the documentation that comes with a game, such as instruction manuals and in-game menus. The best video game writers in the industry can earn up to a $200,000 salary if their game ends up being successful.
If you have a knack for coding, as well as a love for video games, you might do well as a gaming programmer. You’ll work to improve upon previously created engines to enhance gameplay through a variety of facets. While the artists have created the characters and their animations, you’ll be ensuring that the characters are playable and controllable. You’ll also create the artificial intelligence that makes interacting with non-playable characters as realistic as possible. If you’re able to make a designers ideas come to life through a computer screen, you could earn a salary of around $95,000.
Maybe you’re not an artist and you don’t have much experience with computer coding, but you’ve had an amazing idea for a video game ever since you were a child. As a designer, your job is to assemble a creative team that can handle all the specialty work and make your dream game a reality. You’ll describe the characters, the environment, and the overall purpose of the game, and guide your team as they work their magic. As I mentioned in the intro, game design is becoming increasingly complex; you’ll need a college education to get started. But you’ll quickly be reimbursed by the hefty salary you could end up earning.
As a producer, you’ll put your love of video games in the spotlight. While you’ll definitely have to deal with boring office-related work like budgeting and project management, you’ll also be tasked with promoting your game to the “powers that be” within the gaming industry, as well as the most important people in the industry: the fans. Successful producers can make anywhere from $50,000 to over $100,000 depending on their experience and abilities.
Woo! You actually get to play the game rather than design it! Sounds great, right? Well, it’s really not all fun and games. Think back to your teenage days of working in an ice cream parlor; I bet you never chose ice cream for dessert on your time off, right? Unfortunately, being a game tester is less “having fun playing games all day” and more “inching your way around the environment, taking notes on whether or not you found a glitch in the system.” In it’s simplest terms, imagine having to “play” a level of Super Mario, jumping ten times in one spot, moving forward an inch, jumping ten more times, moving forward again…you get the idea. You won’t make much money, but at least you’ll be doing your part in the industry!
But you definitely can make some major cash playing video games for a living. Of course, you either have to be incredibly talented or extremely entertaining to make it big. Creating Let’s Play videos has left some gamers with more money than they know what to do with. Competitive gamers can also earn hundreds of thousands of dollars through sponsored tournament winnings. So the next time your mom yells at you for all the Dorito crumbs and Mountain Dew stains on your couch cushions, show her this article to get her off your back…maybe.
Featured photo credit: rachel takes a break from playing video games with nick – _MG_3350 / sean dreilinger via farm4.staticflickr.com