From pencil to pixel: studying for a job in the games industry

With the PS4 and Xbox One hitting the stores at the moment, the games industry's in the spotlight right now. But how do you go about getting into it? 3D World takes a look.

The games industry is big business these days, and everybody wants in on the action. While back in the first and second generations of gaming you could have been forgiven for thinking games designers were simply programmers looking to get a little creative with their skills, today a single development team will comprise of designers, developers, writers, artists, PR experts, community managers, publishers and legal specialists - meaning that it's easier than ever to find a job creating the next triple-A release.

Of course, if you'd rather launch your own indie company to make games, it's a great time to do so; console and PC gaming are both primed to encourage development of the indie marketplace, so studying for those skills could be just what you need to give you the edge to succeed.


Designers are always in high demand in the gaming industry - although in turn the job market is saturated with hopefuls looking to become a successful video games artist. To really succeed you need an innate understanding not just of art and design, but 3D aesthetics and the implementation of your designs within a game. Luckily, there are specific courses with this in mind, like the 3D Animation and Games Degree at Middlesex University, where you can expect to learn about everything from stop-motion to 3D animation as well as the history of designs and development in gaming.


All sorts of development skills are required in the games industry - you only have to look at job listings to see that most of them are for developers and programmers, working for consoles, PCs and increasingly mobile platforms - making the possibilities almost endless for the right candidate. It's wise to look into which platform you're most interested in first, so that you know which course to apply for and which languages you'll need, but you'll find plenty of opportunities. If you've a creative streak as well, you'll soon find yourself creating your own games, allowing you to build up your portfolio and start getting your foot in the door!


While dedicated writing positions in the games industry are few and far between, there's definitely more call for storytellers and narrators these days, particularly with the larger publishers. With a little hunting you could find yourself working as a scriptwriter or narrative director, devising stories and creating your own world in which to set your game. Creative writing skills are key here, and scriptwriting modules are ideal if you can take them. Project management is another good skill, particularly when you're in charge of the folklore of an entire fictional world, so work towards those and start making connections - you might find yourself devising a fair few games for indie developers before you can secure a footing in the industry.

Behind the scenes

Even if you're not seeking a creative role, there's a wealth of work out there for anybody looking to apply business-oriented skills to the industry. Take a look at websites dedicated to games jobs, like GamesIndustry International - there you'll find listings for every sector from marketing and PR to education, giving you plenty of choice!

Find out more about working in the games industry in the new issue of 3D World, on sale now.

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