Video gaming is not the cottage industry it once was. The sector has grown from a fledgling industry to a multi-billion dollar-a-year mainstream leviathan with over 2.5 billion gamers around the world. Young people are growing up with video games as their main source of entertainment. Professionals from traditional business sectors are changing careers for the expanding opportunities, more significant challenges, and increased pay scales of the gaming industry. Due to the sector’s parabolic growth and the ever-evolving web, gaming studios are continually scrambling to find skilled developers. The demand has also created new opportunities for remote video game jobs. However, virtually all of the positions in the ever-expanding gaming industry require a specialized skill set, and there are a number of criteria employers look for when searching for talent. For example, the job board Indeed reports game software engineers have made up almost 30 percent of all job listings for 2023. To help you sort through it all, here is a list of the key criteria game studios look for when hiring:
Many, if not most, gaming studios require applicants to have some formal training, and virtually all the big companies, like Unity and Google, require applicants for video game programmer jobs to hold a degree in a related field. These types of degrees include a bachelor’s or master’s in computer science or information technology. However, this is not carved in stone as some of the top programmers are self-taught, and some companies will consider candidates who have an equivalent combination of experience and education.
Companies will require applicants to demonstrate they have a command of the required skills needed to execute the duties of the position they are applying for. Virtually every video game studio, large and small, are looking for competent people with solid programming skills to fill a variety of roles. These include engineers, developers, artists, animators, game and level designers. The most qualified applicants will have a command of the following programming languages:
- Unreal 4/5
- RESTful API’s
Cloud providers (AWS, Azure, etc.)
Virtual (VR) and augmented (AR) reality technologies are completely revolutionizing the gaming industry. Most large gaming titles generate millions, if not billions, of users across multiple demographics due to the game’s increased interaction and immersive experiences. Standing for “user experience,” UX design roles require applicants to have familiarity with virtual and augmented reality and traditional user-experience skills. UX design is one of the most sought-after skills, accounting for approximately 25 percent of all new game design jobs.
With increased interest comes increased activity, and all that new activity generates a massive amount of priceless data. Data analysis is critical to determine what improvements need to be made to the game to improve overall user experience and identify and fix bugs. Because it is such an essential skill to any game studio, the role of data analyst accounts for over 10 percent of all open gaming roles. However, the process of data analysis requires applicants to have a well-balanced integration of design and programming skills. This means applicants should have a command of multiple relevant languages as well as a grasp of 2D and 3D modeling, animation software, and game-engine knowledge.
While some combination of skill and education is mandatory for most game studios, video game recruiters and employers also like to see that candidates have some viable real-world experience in creating successful games. Here are some of the significant areas where game studios want to see applicants have experience:
• AAA Console – Development experience on the prominent consoles including Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo offer talent a wide range of options. The production value of a AAA console game is extremely high-level; therefore, this makes it challenging for game developers without no prior experience to have the skills/experience required to valuable to the team.
• Mobile – As of 2022, mobile gaming accounts for 60% of the market and is growing 1.7x faster than other segments like computer- and console-based games. There are many opportunities for aspiring game developers to break into the industry.
• AR/VR – The innovative hardware and software being developed for AR and VR experiences are redefining the way people work, play and connect. For this reason, AR/VR is appealing to talent looking to help shape a new segment in games.
Experience in many of these areas may seem like the hardest criteria for an entry level-employee to fulfill. While it is often a catch-22 situation, where you need the experience to get hired by a video-game company, but you can’t get the needed experience without having worked for a studio, there are a couple of ways to gain needed experience. One of the best ways to show viable experience is to build a game of your own design on your own for your portfolio. There are a number of online courses where you can learn the skills and earn certifications in the needed software systems to create your own game.
Showcasing your work is the best way to make your portfolio stand out, regardless of whether or not you have actual experience working for a video game company. Some studios hire contract game developers to design or assist in building their games. To capture the attention of hiring managers, you will need a strong portfolio. An impressive portfolio does not require a long list of credits from well-known productions, but you must find a way to showcase your skills, education, and experiences to potential employers. To do this, build an online portfolio that features any games you have created for employers, at school, or on your own. Show your best work only.
Aside from measurable training and skill, game studios seeking to hire new employees also look for the following non-tangible abilities:
• Reliability: Studios need to know they can count on you to execute your duties in a timely and professional manner that will help the team and the project stay on track. If working remotely, employers need to have the confidence you will stay on track and keep them informed of your progress.
• Communication: Being able to effectively communicate concepts, goals, and problems to team members is paramount to keeping projects moving forward.
• Contributions: Studios like to hire people who’s skill sets complement each other rather than overlap, so studios are quick to hire people who have skills that are somewhat unique.
In the gaming industry, the same job title can have wildly different meanings. Because similar job titles often carry very different responsibilities, it is important to understand what the studio actually wants. This is why the services of a video game recruiting company like DAM becomes invaluable. DAM is the top video game recruiters in the United States, with access to hundreds of unpublished game jobs. DAM’s fees are paid by the studios, so there is never a cost to job seekers, and they provide free career guidance as well as help with interview preparation. Contact DAM at Damagents.com for more information.