Making a career in video gaming

There are lots of different types of jobs in the games industry, requiring a wide variety of skills.


Specific vocational courses for games careers are still quite rare, although more are now being offered. Software engineer, Malcolm Brown, spent four years at Abertay learning the science and maths that would support his entry into the games industry as a programmer. William Kennedy developed the skills to become a Quality Assurance (QA) tester on his game software degree.

Traditional courses in art, computer science or even business studies can also support a career in gaming, as release schedule co-ordinator, Will Knox Walker and David Coleman, bug abuse lead curator, discovered.

Getting experience

While having a relevant degree is useful, it’s far from essential. Much more important is experience: as audio designer, Ross Nicoll, says, proving your worth is much more important to many employers than a bit of paper and, as Malcolm Brown points out, there are some things you can only learn by working.

The difficulty is finding ways to get that experience. Now a lead creative designer, Stephen Hewitt started out working unpaid, but even this sort of experience can be hard to find. For many people the answer is to do it yourself, making something to prove that you have the skills or potential to enter the industry. Billy Fan, a web developer, showed he had the skills and commitment needed by building and running a community website and message board. Henrique Olifiers, Head of Games, actually wrote his own games as a teenager.

Taking opportunities

Chance can play a big role in finding your way in to the industry. Personal contacts played a big part in Laura Watton, a Graphics Artist, and Ross Nicoll joining the industry – though it was through their own efforts that they were able to make the most of their opportunities.

Mark Brassington, senior graphics modeller, responded to an email advert which had been sent to everyone in their final year at his university. Despite the fact that his, “portfolio was not 100% complete”, he thought that he had nothing to loose by applying. He did and, “just got the job.”

People don’t always set out to work in the sector, even if they know that games are important to them. Laura Watton and Stephen Hewit both had an art education and moved themselves into digital and multimedia work. Henrique Olifers was a journalist. Ross Nicol worked in an audio shop. And Associate Producer, Alex Janaway, did a film studies degree and joined the Army before finding his role in the games industry. Making games needs a combination of skills from different backgrounds – organisational, interpersonal and creative skills as well as technical.


Qualifications, skills, experience and good fortune are all useful. But the one thing that all of the people in the icould films share is passion. Everyone talks about the love for games that helped them stick through the times when a career in the industry looked a very distant prospect. David Coleman was unemployed for six months but eventually made a breakthrough into the gaming industry through sheer, “persistence and the desire to do it”. As Producer, Carol Clark, says, “follow your passion and you’ll get there in the end”. And as Alex Janaway concludes, “It’s our job – but we’d do it anyway”.
Richard Sandford
Learning Researcher futurelab

You may have noticed that most of the icould story tellers are male – but this is changing. To find out about career opportunities for women in the video game industry, see the article Career opportunities for women in the video game industry.

Find out even more about the computer gaming industry by following these links:

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