About Video Game Development, Esports & Streaming
The video games market value in the UK grew to a record high of £7.16bn in 2021.
This global industry has matured to offer complex virtual experiences and entertainment to a diverse range of customers as well as offering career paths unheard of until relatively recently. Coders (programmers), designers, 3D-artists, level designers and more are needed to support thousands of software development studios who produce and support games and game-related products. In addition, jobs in professional gaming as well as online game-content streaming, are becoming more feasible as career paths for a greater number of players and entrepreneurs with the right skills and knowledge.
Hardware heavyweights like Microsoft & Sony face off to get their super-powered 9th-generation consoles into living rooms and bedrooms across the globe, whilst industry veterans like Nintendo dominate the handheld and hybrid market. Tripple-A games publishers and developers push the entertainment envelope with ever more life-like, high-definition virtual experiences and blockbusters that certainly give cinema a run for its ticket money. Meanwhile thousands more large, medium and smaller studios additionally deliver an almost uncountable number of gaming experiences to computers and mobile devices as part of this booming industry that has something to offer to almost every demographic.
It's not just explosive action that's making an impact anymore either - the content and development of games is evolving to be much more inclusive from a consumer and career perspective. Where once we had only space invaders, games now come in all varieties from mesmerising puzzles to moving, emotional narratives and experimental abstract experiences. Whether you're into action, character development, simple relaxation, role playing or grand strategy - the industry has something to offer everyone considering a creative career.
Is it for me?
The sector currently employs around 22,000 people in the UK. Would you like to help create exciting entertainment experiences or emotional digital stories? You must really have a desire to know about how games come together: liking to play -while also pretty essential- is not enough. You will benefit greatly from a wider interest in the industry rather than being just a consumer of games, whilst a basic understanding of game concepts, terminology, genres and history will give you a good starting point.
Working in games is very often about being part of a larger studio, so being able to work in teams is important. Freelance and remote roles are available but you will still need to be able to contribute to a larger project. You should also be aware that the industry has historically been known for long working hours during 'Crunch Time' - when games are approaching completion.
Careers broadly encompass four general areas of game creation:
- Design & Development (e.g Designer, Creative Director, Producer, Writer)
- Programming / Coding (e.g Programmer / Coder)
- Art & Music (e.g Concept Artist, 3D Artist, Animator, Audio Producer)
- Testing & Localisation (Tester, Quality Assurance Tester, Translator)
You'll need to think about where your talents lie within these areas and also understand that the games industry moves at a rapid pace: Having an aptitude for picking up new skills and being a quick learner are almost essential traits.
How are you practising your skills now?
Lots of people say that they want to work in the games industry or be a 'video game designer' - when all they are actually doing is playing games. Whilst experience of playing is crucial, you should be developing and practising skills in one or more of the four areas listed above right now in order to give yourself the best chance and head start in this dynamic career. There are lots of educational and largely free or inexpensive resources listed in the links boxes below to start you off, so get using them!
Preparing for this industry will almost certainly involve a great deal of practising and creating in your own time, as well as improving on and certifying those skills through professional qualifications. Games-centric courses are now relatively common at both the further and higher education levels, so look for qualifications that can cement your specific skills when you get to this stage.
Esports and Streaming
Did you know that Esports is an area that the government is really interested in, both economically and as a medium to help connect people? They've gone further by stating that they would like UK to become a world leader in Esports.
Esports (electronic sports) is the term applied to competitive video gaming. This differs from gaming in general as the competitions are normally high-profile, well organised person v person matches and leagues, and much like traditional sport, involve an integral and engaging spectator component. Tournaments normally consist of amateur or professional gamers competing against one another or team vs team for cash prizes. There is a level of organisation, professionalism and monetisation present in esports that people outside of this emerging sector may not have traditionally associated with gaming - it's an environment where both ability and professional conduct are celebrated and encouraged much like motorsport, athletics or any other professional sport. Some of the largest tournaments stake millions of pounds in prize money and are watched by millions of fans, whilst other competitions may offer prize pools of up to $1m. Amateur tournaments often have prizes and viewers in the low thousands or hundreds.
'Pro Gamers' - players that compete at the top level are currently earning thousands, or even millions of pounds, but this slice of the career is quite narrow, just as say, professional footballers are relatively few in number when compared to all the other jobs available in football. The wider end of the slice in terms of careers includes all of the supporting and enabling roles such as commentators, event managers, journalists, content creators, photographers, coaches, sales and marketing executives - and more!
Video game streaming or content creation has also picked up a rapid pace over the last 10 years or so, with more and more creators putting out game related content on platforms such as Twitch and YouTube. Games reviews, play-throughs as well as humorous or educational content relating to gaming all fall into this category.
There is increasing scope for significant sponsorship and advertising revenue opportunities for the most prolific and in-demand content creators and whilst the majority of content is published by amateurs or unpaid curators, the opportunity to crowd-source your revenue through platforms such as Patreon or Buy me a Coffee has never been easier for smaller scale operations and aspirations. Quality, watchable content is key and volume of viewers / followers is paramount if you want to consider earning salary-type money from your work. Video content about games is a good example of a hobby that can turn into a career or support job if you are good enough, and represents a low risk back-up plan if your interests and skills naturally lead you to produce this sort of thing in your own time. It currently lacks a traditional or embedded qualification route and your success is much more dependent on how your content is received and by how many people.
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The world of gaming perhaps offers creative opportunities like no other! Have a look at the links and job role ideas that we've listed on this page to help you explore further opportunities and check back here as we update the page! You might also want to explore Design, Software & Web.