Game Art Design and Other Jobs in the Video Game Industry

Despite the dismal economy, the video game industry is big and getting bigger. Boutique video game retailers such as Gamestop are forecasting 10%-12% sales growth for 2009 (source: Marketwatch). This means that if you’re looking for a job in the video game industry, now is the time.But what would you do in the video game industry? What career path? Want to be in game art design? How about video game programming? Hey, want to be a video game tester?Making a video game today is kinda like making a movie. In fact, some video games have budgets that are as a big or bigger than movies. Popular games like Halo or Star Wars take a couple of years to make and require budgets in the millions of dollars. But that’s OK because they return back ten times more.What do video game makers spend their money on? Well, in a movie, for example, actors, directors, camera crew, make-up artists, wardrobe consultants, sound specialists, and other production personnel are hired. Video games are the same, except they hire people with very different and specialized talent.What are the video game jobs?There are different types of jobs in the video game industry and some are entry level that you can get after getting a degree from a video game design college. See the examples below:

Videogame testers – Many who aspire to work in the video game industry already know about this job. The responsibility is a little more than the title led some to believe. In other software industry, this job is usually called Quality Assurance. Those who work as video game testers are the ones who stress test the games, find bugs, and record them. They also give feedback on playability and anything else the developers and producers ask of them to watch out for.

2-D concept artists – These guys almost always have an arts degree or a strong portfolio of making creative images, whether digital or not. They are artists and they flesh out ideas on screen or paper before any real work takes place.

3-D character builders – These jobs require someone having experience with rendering software. They get the experience from hands on training or formal education, like going to school for game and art design. They put together how characters will look such as facial expressions, action poses, and, of course, costumes. Video game character designersare the ones responsible for bringing about the coolness of HALO’s SPARTAN armors and Lara Craft’s ultra sexy figure.

3-D object modelers – Do you like how that Brute Plasma Rifle look (Halo 2)? How about the sharp new Manslayer of the Qiraji two-handed sword (World of Warcraft)? Well, the people to thank are the 3D object modelers who designed not just cool weapons that gamers can buy or quest for, but also space ships, tavern buildings, command consoles, cars, etc. Of course, this is another job that requires training or schooling in image rendering programs.

Interactivity designer – In any video game, there is always a way to reward the gamer. Whether it’s killing the dragon, vanquishing evil demons, or defeating an invading horde of orcs, a gamer has to do something to beat the game. Even in open-ended games like World of Warcraft, a quest has a reward at the end. Interactive game designers are the ones responsible for setting up the game play rules so that the experience is challenging and cool.

Background artist – When walking around Raccoon City, did that creep you out (Resident Evil)? And when running around the Flayer Jungle on your way to Mephisto (Diablo 2), did you feel the mugginess of steamy tropical jungle? Well, the job of background artists is to immerse the gamer in a new world that is experienced from a computer screen. It requires a lot of creativity and imagination. This job typically requires someone with an art degree or a strong portfolio in creative digital images. Some schools call their programs game art design degrees.
Of course, the list above is just a small group of creative jobs in making a video game. For some of these, the skills necessary can be obtained through experience, but many of the companies who hire for the position requires a degree in game art and design or something similar. But researching the position that you want to be will help you quite a bit because it may have different requirements.

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