I want to work in Computer Games
Computer games companies require fluent Java and C++ programmers, 3D and digital graphic designers, sound and credits screen designers, technical writers, translators and customer support staff. 90% of those recruited are graduates.
- Games are now designed by teams just like films (usually after commissioning from a publisher: companies usually have no direct links to consumers/retail outlets). A top game can cost £5M and 2 years to develop. In 5 years time there may not be much difference between films, TV and games in terms of technology so the industry will be looking to develop skills in shortage areas like storytelling or cinematography. On-line gaming is getting more and more important.
- There are about 30,000 people employed in the UK games industry working for games developers, publishers and retailers. There are over 250 games development studios. The UK has the biggest development community in Europe and the largest after the USA. It is home to most of the global publishing giants. The UK leisure software market is now said to be the fastest-growing sector of the UK entertainment media.
- The worldwide market for games means employees need to have a cultural awareness so that game designs avoid specific cultural references (e.g. F1 does not have Murray Walker commentating as he is unknown outside the UK). Major games development centres in the UK are Liverpool/Manchester, Dundee and Guildford.
- Console games (e.g. XBox 360) are more profitable than PC games. The arrival of new consoles (PlayStation 3 etc.) has revitalised the games sector. The European and North American market is set to triple over the next five years to $28bn and the next three years will bring "buoyant growth" for the industry.
- The working environment has to be an environment where you can make mistakes, as these are crucial to development.
- The industry is very fast moving with constant technology developments, so you need to be a quick learner and to be someone who enjoys learning new skills.
- Only 20% of games are likely to make a profit, 40% are likely to break even.
- Salaries start from about £12,000 for quality assurance and testing roles, up to £25,000 for skilled artists, animators and programmers. Senior salaries can go up to £45,000 for project managers, producers and lead developers.
- Working hours can be long, especially when games are reaching completion, when 70 hour weeks including weekends may be required for a month or two.
Put your gamer score on your CV, not what your grades in school are. Also, don't write cover letters that are 18 pages long. Give me bullet points.
Gary Maeslan, Rockstar Games