Working in Video Games
Video games are created by teams of highly educated, talented, and artistic professionals who work well with others.
The Design Team
The design team is in charge of the creative side of a game’s development. The team is comprised of game designers, artists, animators, narrators (writers), and, now, psychologists who research possible connections between violence on the game screen and in the real world.
The lead designer shepherds his team from beginning to completion. They generally work with old-school storyboards during the early stage development- (Computers or software are not required until later in the process).
The design team brainstorms and comes to agreement on issues such as who the heroes and villains will be- (i.e., the protagonist and antagonist). They imagine what the characters will look like, what their names will be and how they will interact during game play.
Narrators are tasked with writing outlines for these first few steps in game development. Later, they will invent the language of those residing in the imaginary world of the game. They will determine what the cities, mountains, and seas will be called, even what the planet itself is named. They might invent one or two religions and faux histories, and determine customs and social mores. For example, what do the planetary military service members do and what do the uniforms they wear look like?
The Art Team
The artists create progressively more complicated drawings as parameters become clearer. Finally, they move from inks, oils, and acrylics to computer and 3D paint programs. At this point the drawings begin to take on more life. The artists have a big responsibility. Bad art can kill a game faster than good art can save it. Animators soon join the other artists and they all work together to ensure the characters move smoothly and naturally.
There is a new member of some video game development teams and this is the PhD psychologist. It seems as if every mentally ill young gunman has played video games throughout his formative years. The game publishers are rightly concerned because if there is a perceived connection it could create liability issues. The psychologist conducts specific tests to determine cause and effect and to explore various potential connections.
Once the dreaming is done and the artists are working away, in come the programmers, and lots of them! There are those who specialize in the physics engine, graphics engine, artificial intelligence, sound, gameplay, scripter, user interface, input, the network, game tools, porting, technology, and, of course, there is the lead game programmer. Bachelor of Science graduates need to know C or C++, Lua, Perl and other languages to be competitive.
Where to go to school in Arkansas
- Full Sail University – Full Sail offers courses in Game Design. With more than a decade of experience in the industry, Full Sail delivers a highly specialized education that blends the art, technology, and storytelling needed to create a successful game.
- Devry University – DeVry University offers programming and design courses with a specialized degree in Multimedia Design and Development in Web Game Programming. Coursework includes Game Development, Interactive Web Page Scripting, Multiplayer Online Game Development, Programming Multimedia for the Web and more.
- Henderson State University – Located in Arkadelphia, Henderson offers a Bachelor of Fine Art in Digital Art and Design.
- ITT Technical Institute – ITT Technical Institute in Little Rock offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Digital Entertainment and Game Design and Associate degrees in Information Technology – Multimedia.
- International Academy of Design and Technology – International Academy of Design and Technology offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Design & Production.
- Southern Arkansas University – Located in Magnolia, SAU offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art and Design: Game, Animation, and Simulation Design.
Places to Intern
There are presently no video game developers or publishers in Arkansas. For those who aspire to attend college and work in the industry near home, Razorbacks will have to be creative. For example, there are several highly-rated educational institutions you can attend online.
This industry lends itself to working from home, and telecommuting is not uncommon. Some businesses that might hire animators and game designers include software publishers, mobile phone service providers, graphic design firms, and animation studios. There are also positions sometimes available in colleges and universities. Additionally, there is a small footprint of local motion picture producers like Ozark Film Productions in Springdale or Paramount Pictures, which has an office in Rogers.
Those interested in game development should join a group or meet-up. The NWA (Northwest Arkansas) Game Developer Group and the Tesseract Interactive Humanities Game Design at the University of Arkansas, both in Fayetteville, keep members up to date on industry news and trends. Membership in these organizations also enables support for those encountering challenges in the industry.