CEO Blog – Thinking of a video game career? Here’s what you need to know.
By Rémi Racine
When you’ve worked in the video game industry as long as I have (over 25 years…but who’s counting), you become a source for career advice. What’s the point of all these years of experience if you don’t wholeheartedly embrace your role as a mentor and big brother to the next generation of creators and innovators?
Since I started at Behaviour Interactive in 1994, video games have matured drastically. With the video game industry earning more revenue than the music and film industries combined, there’s no denying that we’ve come a long way.
While there is no wrong or right way to power up a video game career, here are a few practical tips for all of you out there dreaming of making the next big game,
Reassure your Parents
Telling your parents that you want to make video games for a living could send them into a tailspin of worry.
20 years ago, they would have been right to be concerned.
Today, the video game industry is as solid as can be. In the US, it’s valued at close to 20 bn.
Today, the video game industry is stronger than ever. In Quebec, our industry, with its 231 active studios and more than 10,000 professionals, has an economic impact approaching one billion(1). In the United States, the industry is valued at nearly $20 billion and close to 2,500 video game companies directly and indirectly support 220,000 jobs(2).
You can therefore ease your parents’ minds – and show off your research skills – by telling them that the industry is growing at a rate of 8-10% a year with no downturn in sight, that 59% of adults now play video games, and that the average industry salary is estimated at more than 70 K (which should reassure them that they won’t be supporting you into adulthood).
Making video games is no longer a risky career path. It’s a serious business.
Year in and year out, there are more open positions than qualified candidates. At Behaviour, there are currently 86 open positions for everyone from UI programmers to data engineers and capture artists.
Hit the Books
It might no longer be a generally held opinion, but I still encourage anyone who wants to make games for a living to get a college degree. Yes, it’s possible to make your mark in video games without formal studies, but, believe me, your potential for advancement increases with a diploma in hand.
As a bonus, a degree makes it much easier to work abroad and have your qualifications recognized by employers.
Make a Name for Yourself
If you want to launch a video game career, make connections. How? By participating in game jams and meetups, being active on discussion boards, and showing off your work on Reddit, GitHub, and Art Station. Volunteering at industry events and conferences is also a powerful way to get noticed.
On top of gaining valuable insights, you’ll build a network of professionals who can vouch for your skills and enthusiasm. Trust me, you’ll be top of mind when comes the time to recommend a candidate for a position.
Always be Learning
Our industry is fueled by talent and passion. To build your career, you’ll need relentless curiosity and a strong work ethic.
I’ve seen employees go from 30 to 150 K in just a few years. It’s not an urban myth that a QA can become a Game Designer.
How? By leaving their ego at the door. By always being on the lookout for new trends, keeping up to date on new technologies, and being 100% dedicated to what they do. Being a key team player doesn’t require sleeping at the office, but it means learning how to be efficient and constantly updating your skills.
There you have it. If you have the will and the skill, there is an opportunity for you to make a career out of creating video games.
CEO and Executive Producer – Behaviour Interactive
(1) Les Affaires: Jeux vidéo au Québec: bientôt le milliard de retombées
(2) Venture Beat: The U.S. game industry has 2,457 companies supporting 220,000 jobs