Big overview of games industry in 2023
Types of talents in the video games industry:
1. Game Developer and Software Designer
2. Games Designer
3. Games Animator
4. Games Artist
5. Audio Engineer
7. Game Play Tester
8. Professional Gamer
Now that you know the various roles in the industry, how then, should someone interested, join this ever-growing industry?
Our 8 strategies on starting a career as a developer or designer in the video games industry.
1. Having the right mindset and attitude going into this industry
First, it helps to know that all good things take time. This includes becoming a game developer or designer. No one becomes one overnight.
1. Being curious about the things around you
2. Having grit and perseverance to overcome hardship
3. Eagerness to learn and ask questions
4. Learning and improving from feedback
You should also LOVE playing games, have a strong passion for games, and have the interest to create your own.
2. Start small (Build a first game, Work on 1 skill first)
Like the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Similarly, you should start small and take consistent steps daily.
There are many free resources that teach game development or game design.
Learning resources for becoming a Game Developer
For starters, you can check out Unity’s 12-week Junior Programmer course pathway. It’s a free course designed for individuals interested to pick up coding for an entry level role in Unity.
At the end, you get a Unity certification. This certification allows you to prove your job-readiness to your future employers.
You can also check out the Game Development Courses at sites like Udemy. They also run discounts quite frequently, so you can be sure to snag your knowledge bombs at a good value.
We recommend these comprehensive starter courses at Udemy:
The broad-based approach to learn to code, with real world applications.
You can also adopt a broad-based learning approach. This means, learning to create many different games while learning different programming languages.
The Zenva platform is designed for individuals to pick up industry standard skills. And then apply these skills to real world projects.
You’d then graduate from the course with a well diversified portfolio, with many types of games.
Learning resources for becoming a Game Designer
For budding game designers, one platform for creative courses that I’d recommend is Domestika. It houses a plethora of courses, catered for individuals pursuing design and art.
And it’s perfect for anyone who wants to get a headstart in game design!
Check out my top 3 Domestika course picks for those starting out:
Pixel art is a timeless art style that remains very much alive even in the modern day of 2023. You’ll learn to animate your creations, frame by frame. The course also teaches you different animation concepts.
By the end, you’ll animate your own video game character, with a focus on its 3 states. Wait, walk and attack!
In this highly rated course, your teacher, Nicolas Castro, will be teaching you how to illustrate characters from scratch using Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator.
You will learn to design 2 character types, a protagonist and an anatagonist. Then, you will be building a whole new world based off your own character’s history. By the end, you’ll leave with a style guide and a portfolio of your character creations to show off.
From sketch to finish, you’ll learn to transform your paper sketches into beautiful digital creations on Adobe Photoshop.
Your course instructor is J. Alexander Guillen. And he’ll walk you through the entire process – from brainstorming to sketching and finally, digitising.
You’ll learn to use digital paint brushes to add color to your creations, as well as other artistic details, like shadow and light.
Your game has to stand out from the crowd.
Think of the other people also applying to your same position. Why then, should the employer hire you over the others?
One way to shine, is to have a game that strikes a chord with the interviewer. And a surefire way to do this is to have memorable game art. One quick hack is to utilise ready-made assets instead of drawing your own from scratch.
There are many platforms with collections that you can deploy immediately. One such platform is the Unity Asset Store. You can find almost anything you need there for your game – from 3D to 2D assets, to visual effects and audio pieces.
There are even source code templates that help speed up your game creation. Here are some interesting picks that could make your game shine:
This handy unity extension empowers you to easily create 3D prototypes and models, which you can then use in your games. It eliminates the need for any external digital content creation tools for 3D modelling.
Turn your 2D shapes into 3D ones in the most intuitive manner yet, saving you lots of time and effort.
Input thunder and lightning into your game in as easy as 1, 2, 3. Touted as the most user friendly and best sounding thunder and lightning effect, the Thor Thunderstorm pack takes your game to the next level.
From light rumbling thunder, to apocalyptic thunder, you can set how much and how fast these bolts of lightning spawn.
Whether your game is set in a burning lava, or in the lush greeneries of a forest ground, the Unity Asset Store has everything you need. Take your pick from these ready-made environment packs, and save all that time and money in designing yours from scratch.
This physics editor tool system enables you to move and organize your game objects more efficiently. It saves you time by helping you place objects in your game scenes naturally, guided by the laws of physics. It eliminates the need for Rigidbodies and Colliders on your objects, all while keeping your scenes clean.
The collection is constantly being updated with the freshest art assets. And you can view their full range on the Unity Asset Store.
3. Attending workshops, talks and gaming related conventions
Other than taking online courses, you should also attend gaming-related workshops and talks. These avenues are great to get insights shared by experts in the games industry. While these events may not boost your expertise in game development, they give you a good opportunity to network with like-minded individuals.
You can also share your industry knowledge, learn from others and build up contacts for future collaborations. These events range from specific sub-fields, to general purpose types. And they cater to everyone from all disciples of the video gaming industry.
Here are some prominent video game industry events that you shouldn’t miss out on:
1. Games Developers Conference (GDC)
GDC aims to bring the game dev community closer by, allowing the exchange of ideas. Comprising of a good mix of lectures, panels and fireplace discussions, GDC is a knowledge packed conference catered to developers.
Besides also showcasing the latest tools by technology powerhouses like Amazon and Nvidia, there are also community spaces for GDC attendees to play games and socialize.
2. Gamedaily Connect USA
Gamedaily Connect is an exclusive event where like-minded executives, thought leaders, publishers and developers from the video games industry assemble.
It’s an exclusive event where they connect, share ideas and ink partnership deals. The lineup includes lectures, workshops, networking sessions and even an Indie showcase.
3. Unite by Unity Technologies
6. The VFX Festival
7. Oculus Connect
8. GamesCom / GamesCom (Asia)
1. Connecticut Festival of Indie Games
2. Game Devs of Color Expo
3. Playcrafting NYC Meetup
4. Computer Graphics & Animation
5. Game Dev Heroes Awards
6. Serious Play Conference
7. Gen Con
9. Meaningful Play
10. Yorkshire Games Festival
11. SPAR 3D Expo & Conference
You can also consider attending these games conferences that are mainly for entertainment.
While they may not necessarily further your knowledge in games development, they get you introduced to new releases of the year. They also give you a sense of the general trend that the industry is heading towards.
Learn to network like a Pro
While at these events, show up well prepared. This means dressing well, and coming with name cards to give out. Your name card should come with a QR code, linked to your personal website portfolio or LinkedIn profile.
Come up with a good design, and get it printed on a high quality material. If you need help designing your name card, check out Canva’s free business card marker here: https://www.canva.com/create/business-cards/
If you can’t afford the entrance ticket for any of the events above, you can try asking to be a volunteer. Volunteers are often bestowed staff pass that allows entry into the event space. But of course, do fulfill your duties as a volunteer before anything else.
Plan your time well, look up and find out what events are being held all year round. Then, reach out to the organisers. Through networking, I hope you get motivated and fired up to take action and complete your game.
Turn to Facebook and LinkedIn groups as an alternative
4. Keeping abreast of industry news
Knowing the ins and outs of the game industry, as well as new trends and happenings is crucial. You can start by bookmarking a list of gaming news and review websites.
As start, you may wish to bookmark these 5 websites that you should follow for the latest in the gaming realm:
From the latest gaming devices, to the newest game launches, Gamespot covers these happenings no matter how big or small the title is.
It also tracks upcoming game launches so you don’t have to.
A one stop shop for entertaining content that authentic and clear cut. They feature press announcements by popular game studios, game reviews and also community posts.
If you’re an Apple fan, you shouldn’t miss out on this website. It covers only games on the iOS system, ie, iPad, iPhone and also iPod.
From the latest news, to reviews and also a dedicated TouchArcade community, you’ll be sure to find all your Apple gaming related news here.
IGN started by covering content from the video games industry, it then expanded to cover all sorts of geeky content. From entertainment to esports, you’ll be sure to get caught up with the latest updates here.
Dedicated to all things Nintendo, this site covers gaming content about Nintendo devices and their games.
From the likes of Nintendo Switch and Wii, to even news, reviews and guides about Nintendo games. It even houses original game play videos created by their in house team. They also have a community forum for Nintendo gamers to meet, mingle and post.
5. Show off what you have done before
Learn to market yourself well.
Learn a game engine, and master it well. Then, you can choose to either deepen your knowledge further, or go broad, and learn other skillsets like other game engines, coding languages or design.
Having the bragging rights to your own projects will allow you to gain recognition and visibility for your skills.
Build up your personal portfolio (No matter how crappy you think it looks).
You can start off by building your personal website, with your own domain name Eg. first&lastname.com
Then, post all your past and current projects on your website. This would become your live digital portfolio that only grows as you become more experienced in this industry.
You want to post as many relevant items as you can, more is always better. Things like your working prototypes, concept art, design sketches, even links to your game modifications. Showcase anything that shows how you love to build and tinker!
Keep in mind that playable games will always outrank your concept notes in your portfolio. Employers will be keeping a keen eye out for them.
Try to aim to complete your games and have them hosted and playable in your website’s browser. If it’s not possible, you can post gameplay screen recordings. These will allow your future employer to have a good sense of what you can create.
You may also wish to include a good mix of short games in your portfolio. This is because your prospective employer will most likely not have the time to play your full game.
Create a LinkedIn profile.
Fill in your relevant experience and knowledge in your profile page. You can also populate it with links leading to your website portfolio. Have your former colleagues (and current ones) endorse you in skills.
You can also make use of LinkedIn’s in-app messenger to reach out to individuals in the gaming industry. This method of cold outreach may feel like spam to some, but it is proven in getting your name out and known to your prospective employers.
Join Game Jams/Hackathons
It is the easiest and fastest way to get hands-on with designing, developing and creating the art, animation and music for a game.
As a fresh entrant, you would want to soak up as much experience as possible. You get the opportunity to work alongside other participants who may specialise in a particular skill set.
This lets you learn from one another, and become better programmers and designers at the end of it. It’s the best way to try your hand in many different gaming-related fields.
Other than hard skills, you also hone your soft skills. Learning to work in a team, staying organized, brainstorming and prototyping skills are also picked up along the way.
The hard cutoff time also presents some pressure to get your game ready on time. This also tests your ability to work under pressure.
You can refer to this schedule for all upcoming Game Jams.
Summarise your key learning points from your first hand experience.
Ask yourself these questions and write down your answers. You can also post them on your web portfolio and even on your LinkedIn profile. Be proud of your accomplishments!
6. Focus and build up on 1 or 2 hard skills
It is a given that individuals with hard skills like coding and design will have an easier time getting a job offer.
Coding skills include coding language mastery, in common game programming languages like C++, C#, Lua, Java, Python, Objective-C and ActionScript. Design skills include design platform mastery, in platforms like Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Dreamweaver, HTML, CSS and any video & animation tool.
Having a good working knowledge of these tools will allow you to jump into the action immediately, without the need for much prior training. So, master these skills and showcase your expertise in your online portfolios. You are guaranteed to standout amongst the competition.
7. Reaching out to the game studios
Before getting in touch with the game studios, do take some time to play the games that they developed. Know the games that the company has developed and published. Know what makes those games great, and not so great.
Spend some time researching and knowing your department head and manager. While most game studios are looking for seasoned developers, rest assured that there will always be junior roles that you can start off with.
Ensure that your resume comes with a cover letter that is addressed to the studio that you’re applying at. Be sure to write in proper sentence structures, and perfect grammar. Don’t forget to do a spellcheck!
Once everything is in order, address the correct person and company in your email application before hitting send.
8. How & where to find openings in the video games industry
You can check out the current job postings on popular career networking sites such as LinkedIn.
There are other job portals to consider when searching:
You can also use these aggregator web tools to find studios worldwide. Then, reach out to them, or check their official website to see whether they are currently hiring.
2. Game Dev Map