You may think that spending countless hours playing video games, following Twitch streams, and blowing all your pocket money (or income) on the latest consoles qualifies you for a career in video gaming – and you would be right! It’s, indeed, possible to channel your passion into a career in gaming, and knowing games intimately gives you an edge in making good ones.
However, it’s crucial to note that it won’t all be fun and games (pun intended) – the gaming industry is a hard nut to crack. You need a solid strategy, relevant skills, and a long-term vision.
Learn how you can turn your love of video gaming into a career (or income stream):
What skills do I need for a career in video gaming?
The skills you need depend on your chosen specialization. If you’re pursuing a traditional career, there are several roles available in the video gaming industry – designers, developers, testers, sound engineers, level designers, story writers, marketers, and more. Every role requires different skills, although some are universal – like soft skills and knowledge of games, for instance. (RS)Websols covers key roles that are integral to a game development team.
As a developer, for example you will need knowledge of computer theory, programming languages, and game development environments. It’s a good idea to settle on a specialization and then research the skills you need to succeed therein. You can look skills up online (or talk to a career counsellor if in doubt).
Figure out your interests
Having a hard time choosing a specialization? You can take a look at your past accomplishments, experiences, and present skill set when making a decision. Don’t forget to look at the long-term potential of any specialization you end up picking.
Getting a job creating video games
If you decide to get a job making video games, below are three steps you will need to take:
1. Gain relevant skills
You may need formal training to acquire the skills you need. You can do part-time courses or vocational programs to pick up coding or similar skills. Pursuing a formal degree in a field related to your chosen specialization may open up doors for you down the road, although it’s not strictly necessary. Self-study is an option, but it won’t be easy.
2. Build up your resume
Once you’re ready to apply for a job, build a good resume. Highlight all the relevant skills you’ve picked up and mention your internship experience, if applicable. It’s always a good idea to tailor the resume to the job at hand, talking up the skills they mention in the advert. Always write a solid cover explaining why you want to work at that particular company. A nice-looking picture will round things off nicely.
3. Find (and apply to) a job
There are several ways to find jobs: Networking, finding a mentor, applying to job listings, frequenting video-game-development groups, cold emailing companies you like, sharing your creations online, applying for internships, and volunteering your time for free. Eventually, you will get a foot in the door somewhere (for an entry-level position).
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Making money as a video game streamer
You could potentially make money as a video game streamer – offering walkthroughs of your favourite games, reviewing games, covering game-related news, and similar. You could start a YouTube channel, Twitch stream, blog, or similar. Note that while you will be playing games sometimes, it’ll still be hard work.
You will need solid hardware (which may require a bit of an investment), good gaming skills, as well as proficiency with video editing software. Marketing yourself is essential – you can use an MP4-to-GIF maker to turn game-related videos into marketing material for yourself. This tool allows you to trim your videos to include only key moments in the GIF reel.
Starting a business related to video gaming
You can always start a video-gaming-related business. You could make your own games, sell video gaming merchandise, sell consoles, start a gaming arcade, and more – your imagination is the only limit. If you’re going into business, it’s best practice to create a business plan, research the market properly, and come up with practical short-term and long-term business goals.
Forming an LLC will give you a bit of a safety net – it comes with limited liability, meaning your personal assets are protected if you get sued. There are other benefits, like tax breaks and less paperwork. You can file the paperwork yourself, hire a lawyer, or use a cheap(er) formation service for LLC registration.
We live in times where you can take advantage of all your digital experience, skills and interests. And as it turns out, you can in fact make money from video games through a traditional career, starting your own business, making your own games, and more. Keep in mind that if you take the traditional career route, you may not have a lot of stability, at least initially – video gaming companies are infamous for shutting shop frequently. Plan strategically to be in it for the long haul for the most success.
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