Occupations Available in the Video Game Industry
Video Game Designers
There is generally one lead designer in charge of a working group that includes artists, narrators, and animators. The team generally stays together from inception through the production of the project. Salaries of game designers vary from $35,000 for those newly employed to more than $200,000 for an experienced designer with a very popular game under his or her belt.
Video Game Programmers
Programmers are arguably the most essential to every video game project. Like a house, no matter how amazing a concept or elegant the design, it is all worthless if its foundation and innards are poorly conceived and constructed. Specialties in this area include Gameplay, Tools, Sound, Collision, Network, Graphics, and Engine Programming. This position usually requires a Bachelor of Science degree and pays an average of $80,000 out of college.
Video Game Narrators
If you are a capable writer and have at least a Bachelor of Arts degree, preferably in English, you may be perfect for this job. All the text that appears on the game screen is yours. You can even dream up a new language if so directed or inspired. This creative position can pay a recent graduate well, with a U.S. average annual salary of around $65,000.
Video Game Artists and Animators
Competent artists and animators can push a game’s popularity through the roof and are highly sought after in this industry. A talented individual who is well-versed in all the various tools of the trade, be it an old-school pencil or the latest, cutting-edge 3D program, can earn $60,000 straight out of college.
Video game companies now hire researchers who have PhDs in psychology to uncover potential connections between video games laden with murder and mayhem and players who commit violent crimes. Playing it safe, many companies aren’t waiting to face state or federal regulation and are instead investigating how they might need to modify their games and the best way to do so to avoid potential liability. A skilled PhD research graduate can earn $60,000 to $80,000.
It’s difficult to know the level of truth behind all the recent hype surrounding the video game industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides unbiased information about jobs and employment in the U.S. Their white paper, “Work for Play, Careers in Video Game Development,” is a wonderful source of information for those interested in being a part of the industry. It details the kind of education needed and specifically what each kind of job entails.
Video Game Education Available in Arizona
- Cochise College in Douglas, AZ – Cochise College located in Douglas, AZ offers Digital Imagery and Animation Certificate
- ITT Technical Institute in Tucson and Tempe – ITT Technical Institute with locations in Tucson and Tempe offers Bachelor of Science, Digital Entertainment and Game Design; Associate degree, Information Technology – Multimedia
- Pima Community College in Tucson, AZ – Pima Community College located in Tucson, AZ offers Associate Degree, Digital Arts, transfer program; Certificate, Digital Arts
- The Art Institute of Phoenix in Phoenix, AZ – The Art Institute of Phoenix located in Phoenix, AZ offers Bachelor of Arts, Game Art & Design; Bachelor of Arts, Media Arts & Animation; Bachelor of Arts, Visual & Game Programming; Bachelor of Arts, Visual Effects & Motion Graphics
- The Art Institute of Tucson in Tucson, AZ – The Art Institute of Tucson located in Tucson, AZ offers Bachelor of Arts, Game Art & Design; Bachelor of Arts, Media Arts & Animation; Bachelor of Arts, Visual & Game Programming; Bachelor of Arts, Visual Effects & Motion Graphics
- University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, AZ – Named one of the top 10 schools for video game design in the southwest offering an online Bachelor of Arts in Game Design.
Places to Intern
- 2XL Games – 2XL is a game development studio based in Phoenix, AZ. Over the years, they have produced and shipped numerous games on both console and mobile platforms.
- CrunchTime Games – CrucnhTime, located in a dedicated studio on James Goddard ‘s 1.5 acre ranch in Chandler Arizona, it is one of the larger developers for specialized areas like character game-play design, precision control implementation, and other critical game system design. The more than 20 games developed include coin-op, console, and PC games.
- Flashbang Studios – Flashbang Studios is an independent game developer based in Tempe, Arizona. The company has shipped 15 self-funded titles, including web games, downloadable games, retail games, and iPhone games. It also occasionally does contract work and has created games for companies as diverse as Cisco Systems and the Cartoon Network. Flashbang is also an authorized Wii developer.
- Quest Online – Quest Online was founded in 2006 by a group of investors. In early 2010 after a restructuring of the company, video game industry veteran Derek Smart was brought in as president of the company. They create and develop online games.
- Riverman Media – Riverman Media is a small, independent game development studio dedicated to the art of 2D game creation. It was founded in 2005 by brothers Jacob and Paul Stevens.
- Running with Scissors – This company produces online gaming and has a title out gaining buzz titled Postal 2, Paradise Lost. They are seeking interns.
- TFPSoft – TFPSoft is an independent developer of PC, console, and coin-operated arcade games. It is also an authorized developer for the Nintendo Wii. In addition to game development, they provide art, multimedia, and custom development services to larger studios and other businesses.