I received another interesting email this week asking where to even start in the games industry. I thought this would be interesting to share since it starts by asking what qualifications or roles there might be, not focusing on a specific discipline.
Here’s the original mail
Dear Mr Winder,
My name is […] and I have been interested in games and gaming for around 4 years.
I’m struggling to think on what do with my future. I started streaming on the twitch platform around a month ago and gained around 400+ followers and 1700+ views and I’ve been donated to by various people to support the stream and myself.
I want to get some sort of qualification in the gaming world or some sort of job involving the aspect of gaming.
I’ve also talked to my careers advisers at school and I was passed this email to ask you for some advice on the next step to take, As my advisers didn’t know much about this kind of topic
And here’s what I sent back.
I don’t know what your current situation is, but since you mention your school careers advisor, I’m assuming you’re around 13 to 16 years old, which is a great place to start looking at this kind of thing.
The games industry is a big place, with a lot of different opportunities for people like you. I think the first thing to do would be to have a look at the different job roles that tend to exist in the industry, and the Game Career Guide is a good place to start. This will give you a quick overview, and should give you a good idea of what might be the best fit for you if you want to focus your qualifications in a specific direction.
For example, as I entered the industry as a programmer, I had a good Math GCSE (these days a Computing qualification would be excellent as well) followed by a couple of A-Levels in Math and Computing before ending with a degree in Software Engineering. For other areas of game development, those qualifications will be different. For example, an artist will have good art GCSEs, maybe focus on fine art or a technical art degree, where-as a musician would follow a different path.
One thing to note is that designers tend to have a harder time here, there’s rarely (if any) direct qualifications for that role, people tend to show experience in other ways, and their education may be focused more towards culture and media (literature, media critiquing etc.).
But since you mentioned your Twitch stream, maybe game journalism is a more suitable path for you. In that case, I’ll be less help because it’s not an area I particularly focus on. One thing to note here is that if you are looking for information in this field, make sure the information you’re reading is recent. Games journalism is a very dynamic and fast changing area, and is very different today from what it was just a couple of years ago.
But one thing to stress above all of this, is that even with the qualifications it’s experience that matters. And luckily this isn’t a catch-22 situation anymore.
If you’re interested in developing games themselves, start making them now – there is nothing stopping you.
Download Unity (http://unity3d.com/) and start working through the tutorials, start making little games and maybe even get them released on the various app stores out there. If you struggle with one aspect of development (for example, if you can’t draw like me) find a friend who can and get them involved.
If you’re interested in the media side of things, carry on with what you’re doing with your Twitch channel. Start a blog to write about games and start a YouTube channel to discuss them. Self publishing your opinions and thoughts not only gets them out there, but allows you to improve and focus them, building on peoples feedback to make what you create even better.
Doing this alongside any qualifications will significantly improve your chances of being part of the games industry in the future. Hopefully there is something there that fits what you’re looking for. But the biggest takeaway should be – just start creating and take it from there. But even if you don’t have a strong idea about where you want to be now, that’s no big deal. You’ve plenty of time to make up your mind!
Feel free to send this mail onto your Careers Advisors incase they have other people in your situation and are not sure on what advice to give.
Good luck with what you decide to do next