The BSc in Computer Science, launched by the University of London and member institution Goldsmiths, has been developed with future careers in mind. One of the seven specialisms on offer is Games Development, a sector with global demand for talent.
You’re working with really interesting, creative people and learning all the time – launching a game is obviously a massive high.
Mike Allender has worked in the games industry for more than 15 years, moving from roles at UK-based companies Jagex and King to work in Spain and India. He has now set up his own consultancy working with three separate games studios in London on product strategy and games design.
He said, “Everyone has their own journey into the games sector. I started at the bottom – in the Jagex customer support team – and worked my way up. It’s a great environment, you’re working with really interesting, creative people and learning all the time.
“Launching a game is obviously a massive high but for me the best part of my role is when you and your team all bond together, knuckling down to achieve your common goal. And at the end of the week you have something tangible to show for it and it’s a brilliant feeling to own this product you’ve all created together.”
It is estimated that there are more than 220,000 jobs in the US games market alone, and more than 47,000 in the UK. From producers and designers to artists, data analysts and quality assurance testers, the roles are varied and the opportunities continue to grow.
As well as designers and producers there’s a big demand in the sector right now for data analysts and scientists – especially in mobile gaming.
Georgina Felce is the Studio Operations Manager at Big Pixel Studios, which has grown from just five employees to more than 20 in less than a year and is still recruiting.
Georgina said, “We interview candidates from all over the world. We’re looking for people who are hard-working, adaptable and able to think on their feet. The nature of the industry is that it’s an agile environment and tasks can change from day to day, so you need to be a problem solver.
“As well as designers and producers there’s a big demand in the sector right now for data analysts and scientists – especially in mobile gaming. A lot of games have been operating without analysing performance and now they want to understand that data to monetise it. That’s a specialty that’s only growing in the industry now.”
Lorchan Trapp is a 3D environment artist at Big Pixel. He predicts a trend for more mobile and home consumer virtual reality games. “Working on virtual reality is amazing because you can build a world and then climb into it and see it from a first-person perspective.
“As an industry, gaming is exciting because it’s always developing. In six months’ time there’s going to be new things to learn, new tech. Your career will never be stagnant.”
In six months’ time there’s going to be new things to learn, new tech. Your career will never be stagnant.
The BSc Computer Science (Games Development) degree programme includes a number of project-based assignments, allowing students to develop a portfolio they can demonstrate to future employers.
Mike explained the key skills and attributes he looks for when hiring. “A degree gives you an important grounding in areas like coding and maths. But I’d also advise you play as many games as you possibly can and work out what really interests you.
“University is a great place to be exposed to lots of different areas but the people who really succeed are those who specialise. You’ll have a chance to develop a broad range of skills but on a real games team everyone has a set role to fulfil – whether that’s the producer, the designer, the coder or someone else. You need to discover what role you want and become world class at it.”
The University of London Careers Group has provided a number of additional resources to help you decide if a career in the games industry is right for you.
Summary of video game careers
The video game sector is vast and employs a diverse range of professionals. Roles include Animator, Audio engineer, Game programmer, IT technical support officer, QA tester, Non-technical roles plus many more in the wider business functions. For more information see Video Game Careers
Sources of vacancies in Gaming industry
Job vacancies in the UK games industry are regularly listed on the websites of studios such as:
Many employers are small and micro businesses. Ukie maintains a map of game developers and publishers that you can use to explore further.
Example of a role in the Gaming Industries – Games Developer
Games Developers need to have technical skills, initiative and team working skills to succeed.