If you have a passion or video games and you find yourself spending a lot of time in your teens not only playing games but having ideas on what you want to see in a game, what could the game have done differently. How you would design a level, or critiquing the game art, sound or anything where you feel you could contribute you may have aptitude and passion for a career in the gaming industry. Now, you see how the very small percentage of people can make a living and even a fortune being the best at playing tournament games, streaming or becoming media personalities in gaming but realistically this is is a much harder endeavor than working toward a degree or building the technical skill set and going into game design.
Video Game Degree
There are several ways you can take video games into a career opportunity and of course the most formal is getting a college degree in a field that will help get you started in the video game industry. An example would be working toward either an undergraduate degree in game development, game art or game design like from Full Sail University. The University of Texas for example has a major e-Sports Association and is part of a network of collegiate gamers with over 30 chapters. There is a hosted event called LANstorm that invites 130+ game lovers a competition. Students can also join game related clubs like the Pokémon Club, Doujin Club and they have the Electronic Game Developers Society. The school’s GAMMA (Game and Mobile Media Applications Program) combines three specific departments including fine arts, computer science, and film-television-radio and this creates a multi-faceted game development program that is worth checking out. But even if you are going to college for a gaming related degree you will find yourself having to write college research papers and will have to do your fair part in writing essays as well for courses.
Video Game Self Starters
Let’s say you want to dabble without the commitment of a formal college enrollment at this time, you can look for courses online at sites like Coursera where you can find one of many Game Design and Development courses online. You can even find free individual college courses on edX which have no tuition fees like the Gameplay Programming for Video Game Designers offered by the Rochester Institute of Technology. For graphic design you can get started with practice and tutorials on everything from YouTube and Twitch and leverage GIMP or free programs or simply get an Adobe subscription and use the professional software which has a much lower monthly subscription than the old days where it costs a lot of money to buy the software outright. You can also get student discounts on almost all software too if you are formally enrolled.
To gain experience you will want to do internships, volunteer QA, participate in possible kickstarter as early alpha access backers of projects and align yourself to get work experience and possibly a name credit to start building your resume or CV. The key is the Internet offers so much free training and material for you to start and there is always open source or free programs and software to do virtually anything, so it is only about finding the time and committing to starting this journey.
One day, my goal is to start dabbling with creating visual novels personally because I am a story teller and I want to be able to tell RPG and Fantasy stories through this medium. It is on my to do list at some point in the future, others create games with RPG Maker and turn those around. The video game industry is a growing field and is ripe with competition but there is always room for someone to find a place. Remember that building your portfolio and work experience is gonna be key to help get you started and noticed unless you plan on going solo and starting your own indie company from the beginning.
Whatever your pursuits are I wish you luck and would be more than happy to hear what gaming related degree and careers you are pursuing.