For many of you gaming enthusiasts, the idea of actually getting paid to play is an unthinkable phenomenon. But isn’t the dream career goal to do what you love and love what you do? Gamers Ari Sapriel and Ashley Crocker think so…
“The best part of my job is building a launch plan and developing cool ways to promote a product,” says Sapriel, 25, a marketing manager at Spacetime Studios in Texas, America. “Getting to oversee the development of trailers and ads is very rewarding”.
Whilst Sapriel works on the creative behind video game advertisements, Crocker gets to focus on editing the game footage. “I love video games,” says Crocker, 20, a PrimeTime leage assistant editor at RiotGames in Los Angeles. “I love the community of eSports (a form of competitive multiplayer gaming) and for someone who participated in competitive sports up until college, I really like the energy and teamwork that’s involved.”
Sapriel and Crocker are part of a vast and growing industry that is expanding worldwide, not just in the US. Here on British soil, Chris Child, a games technology lecturer at City University London shares his advice for those of you who want to make your backroom hobby a money making dream: “You’ll find a lot of gaming experts started out by programming games at home as a hobby. I’d suggest you do this and see if you enjoy it. A good starting place is to use a game engine like Unity or Unreal. There are lots of great online videos to help.” However, to make a real career, with longevity, out of the gaming industry, Childs recommends going to university first. “The games industry doesn’t have much room for hackers, which is what you would be if entirely self-taught. You might be able to set up your own company that way, but going to university will make you much more productive and able to work in teams.” Indeed, both Sapriel and Crocker graduated from American universities with degrees in Marketing Communication and Visual Media Production respectively.
But before embarking on a university degree for the sake of it, first check if your current skills meet any job specs you are particularly interested in. If not, then it could be a simple case of gaining some relevant experience – which might mean a step-back in career change before a step-forward. Zuby Ahmed, a programme director for video game production at Birmingham City University, had to do just that to get to where he is today: “I quite a well-paid managerial job back in the 90s to start as a low-paid QA tester, as I wanted to work in games design. That gave me the experience I needed.” If a university degree is looking like a must, make sure you have done your research on which degrees lead to which jobs, this way you can apply for relevant internships in your summer study breaks which could one day lead to a paid, permanent role! This is how Sapriel broke unto the industry and Crocker agrees – “I’d recommend taking a similar route. Start early and apply for any paid or unpaid internships at gaming companies while [studying]”.
Determination, passion and hard work will get you in even if luck isn’t on your side. Don’t give up. Even it when it looks like game over, pick up your control, reassess the level and try again.