Many people are becoming enthralled in whatever games they are playing. It would seem that there is a game out there for every type of person in today’s time, and if that statement isn’t true, than it soon will be. The industry is booming because games are applicable to so many different mind-sets and can influence people in unique and innovative ways. The Nintendo Wii is proof of the expansion of audience relating to games. My grandmother has even considered buying a console so that she can enjoy the game time with grandkids as they come over.
With the rise in the game industry’s popularity, there is now a large group of individuals that want to become part of it in a more meaningful way. Rather than focus their efforts on simply playing games, they want to be part of the process in making games available for others to enjoy. The major problem with this new movement is this:
People love games, but do not know what their calling in the industry is.
The main purpose of this article is to inform those that are interested in the industry that there are more careers out there than are obvious at first glance. Perhaps you aren’t an artist or a code monkey (popular slang term for a programmer). Maybe you are discouraged from the seemingly endless amount of articles and write-ups that state: In order for you to make games, you need to learn how to code. If you aren’t an artist that can easily translate your work into a potential game career, or the aforementioned “code monkey”, then continue reading.
I spoke with Cade Peterson who is a former Community Manager for Playstation. He gave me some very informative details about what jobs are available in the industry, and how someone might prepare themselves to be a worthy candidate for one of those positions.
He told me that the games industry is mostly filled with jobs involving marketing and sales. A small portion is the actual creation of the games themselves. So, with this information, we can comfortably say that it is perfectly fine if you don’t contribute to the “creation” of the games, and still have a great chance of getting a career path started in another area.
A small portion is the actual creation of the games themselves.
Exploring the non-creation parts of the industry is a great way of getting inside. There are many jobs that involve law, human resources, public relations, business, promotions, communication, sales, and the list goes on. A lot of college degrees and academic programs are capable of preparing someone for one of the various positions at a company like Playstation.
Find what you excel in naturally and build on that in order to find what best fits you as far as potential careers.
Maybe taking a bit of news and getting the word out is your specialty, or gaining followers on Facebook and keeping them all happy has never been an issue. Someone like this could consider a PR degree with some electives that help boost promotion skills. I personally love conversing with others and sharing experiences about the hobbies I partake in. After I finish a good game, I like to tell everyone and their mom about my experiences. Obviously if you are similar to me, communication is already a critical part of your life. Why not pursue a communications degree or perhaps consider a path of journalism?
“There is an entire floor at Playstation (North America) that contains nothing but a legal team. There are also several human resource employees,” says Cade. Knowing these numbers helps give strength to the fact that there are many different opportunities to chase. There is an entire floor at Playstation with a legal team? That is only one company! Think about how many legal jobs there are in video games in total.
Cade also mentioned that the largest department that houses public relations, social media, community management and more, is marketing. Marketing can sound like a boring word or job title to some, but it is really about getting the word out about a product. Compiling appropriate tweets, fulfilling the requirements of an email subscription, and keeping the company favorable to its customers is extremely important.
After doing some soul-searching and figuring out what major or area of interest mostly appeals to you, remember that you are someone who needs to stand out and be well-rounded. In order to achieve this, consider brushing up on Photoshop, Excel, Powerpoint, and graphic design. These, along with a handful of business courses, are sought after skills that will only make the person look more desirable for a position says Cade. A hyper-focused professional is sometimes a fit, but more often there is a need for someone that can keep up in other areas as well.
Well, now that some academic degrees and skills have been discussed, what about actually getting your foot in the door? This is where networking comes into play. We’ve all heard about how we need to network and put ourselves out there, so let me reiterate some of that using Cade’s words: Networking is crucial and will only open more doors. Make yourself known to people and really put yourself out there. Seek and converse with like-minded individuals and do all that you are able to in order to become a bigger player in the community you are wanting to be part of. There is something that makes a big difference with networking ease and that is location.
Networking is crucial, and will only open more doors.
Remember the three rules of real estate? If not, let me brush you up: 1) location 2) location and 3) location. Location can be a very important factor when dealing with the big companies. Many of them are found on the west coast in places like Seattle, San Francisco, and so on. It is the hot zone of development and if you live in a small area, it is worth considering relocation in order to help with that networking. There are smaller companies that are starting up around the nation/world, and you might think that one of these could be a better fit, but a small company doesn’t have the budget that a large one does. There is a good chance that a small company wouldn’t be able to afford hiring you, so to play on the safe side, aim big! Work with the industry powerhouses because they can afford you.
The final, and definitely most important piece of advice that I gained from Cade is this: Be comfortable with yourself! Be friendly, cool, collaborative, and easy to work with. Team work is the core of making games and spreading the word, so it is vital that you are someone that would be defined as a team player. The video game community is impossible without people working together and the real world demands cooperation, so be sure and be approachable.
Be friendly, cool, collaborative, and easy to work with.
I hope that this gives those that are struggling with the career-path-decision something more to think about and aim towards. The gaming industry is growing rapidly, and being a part of it is obviously a great and worthwhile experience. Look at the people who have made it, and realize that you can be there too. All it takes is finding your place and breaking in. I would like to add one more bit of advice to close on: Play more games! It is the best place to think critically and learn about what is going on.
If you would like to talk with Cade Peterson and ask him questions yourself, you can find him on Twitter: @Caderageous