3 answers

I want a career related to a video games. What do I major in?

Asked El Sobrante, California

I'm a junior in high school. I'm in my schools tech academy and i'm very unsure of my what I want to major in.I love video games and would want a job related to them. What are skills I need for video game production, development, design, advertising. What major goes into these kinds of jobs? #computer-games #video-games #video-game-design #video-game-development

3 answers

Mark’s Answer

Updated Frederick, Maryland

That depends on what you want to do within the video game industry. The good news is almost anything can work.


Broadly, there are 5 career branches in the industry:


Software Engineering: these people write the code that makes everything work. One obvious major is Computer Science, but that's not the only one. I have been a software engineer at several studios and my majors were Physics and Pure Mathematics. I was self-taught at programming. I have known excellent software engineers who dropped out of college and some that didn't even finish high school. They were all excellent coders, though, so to go down this road, you must learn programming somehow.


Game Design: these people build the levels, write the dialog, and develop the mathematical models that define the game. As you might guess, a broad range of majors can apply here. Some people have degrees in Economics, others in English Literature. I have also been a Game Designer at many studios, where my background in Mathematics came in handy. Here again, though, the key factor is a love and understanding of how games work. Most game designers I know are huge fans of all kinds of games: board games, card games, party games, etc -- not just video games.


Visual/Audio Art: Most of the great video game artist I know have a background in classical fine arts. It's not always painting or sculpture: one of best animators I know had a degree in metallurgy. The key here is to understand the fundamentals related to the field in which you want to excel: composition for graphic artists, principles of animation for animators, etc. If you're going to do sound work, a degree in audio engineering is a great place to start.


Production: producers build teams and keep them on track. It might sound boring, but they are the oil that makes teams run smoothly. They must understand how to build schedules, predict timelines, and manage budgets and people. Producers can come from virtually any background, but business classes can help them understand the business side of the process in ways the other team members often don't.


Business Development: studios that self-publish their games have one or more business development teams. These consist of marketing and salespeople. If the publisher is big enough, the business team probably also includes artists and technicians who build and maintain the company website and all business-related infrastructure. Degrees in marketing, communications (for public relations), and IT all have a home here.


So, really, almost any degree can be "game-related" these days. The trick is to network with gaming companies and be willing to move where the gaming business thrives: most of coastal California; Austin, TX, and Seattle, WA. There is a growing presence of studios along the East Coast, too.

This professional recommends the following next steps:

  • Pick a major that hits the sweet spot between the highest-quality education and what you ultimately want to do.
  • Figure out which of the 5 branches of game dev you find most interesting.

Cuong’s Answer

Updated San Francisco, California

Hey Jalaal,


There are many careers relating to video games, you can look into finance, business development, localization, promotions, legal work, and human resources.


But if you're looking more in video game design careers. There are also many careers but there's also very specific.


Here's my breakdown of the careers.


Programmer - In this area, you will code aspects and functions of the game, depending which category you want to do in.


2D/3D Artist - If you're into the creative side and creating characters, this career is where you can create the characters in 2D or 3D and animate in short trailers or movies.


Game Designer - There are many different branches in this career. There's level designer, UI designer, content designer, system designer, and many more.


Sound Engineer - needless to say, but for this, you would create the sound effects of the game. And if you want to compose music for a game, this is in the same area.


QA Tester (Quality Assurance) - Pretty much you'll be testing games for this position, it could be a good start if you want to get your foot in the door.


My suggestion for you is to try Unity 3D. It has a free personal edition program where you can create your own game from scratch. And yes, there are provided tutorials on Unity if you don't how to use the software and how to code. It teaches beginners how to write C# and how to use the programs through tutorials.


Christy’s Answer

Updated San Francisco, California

When you say "related to", I'm going to assume you mean working IN the videogame business. "Related to" could mean being a games journalist, rather than working directly in the field.


So going on that assumption, games today offer dozens of different career possibilities. Here's a partial list:

programmer/engineer

artist/animator

game designer (and this is further split into many categories of game designer types, such as systems designer, level designer, experience designer, content designer, and so on)

sound engineer/music composer

product manager

producer

UI (user interface) designer

Narrative Designer/writer

QA (Quality Assurance = game testers)

Localization (translation into other languages)

data analyst (metrics)

HR/recruitment

PR (Public Relations/promotion)

Legal


So as you can see, there's a multitude of directions to choose from, and that will determine what areas of study you want to pursue.


Be aware that there schools that specialize in some of these areas. The most significant ones are Digipen, Full Sail, and the Guildhall. But many universities offer game design or programming courses of some kind.


Good luck!


This professional recommends the following next steps:

  • Go to gamasutra.com and read a lot of job listings for that type of position. Job listings are useful because it shows you what a company expects in someone seeking that job: skills, education, experience, and other details.
  • Thinking about this list, what area of videogame production is of the most interest to you? If you don't have enough information to decide, do research on the different job types. It should be fairly easy to know whether you want to be an artist, for example, but you may need to research the other areas in order to get a feel for them.
Ask a question