Engaging students with career options in game development

Engaging students with career options in game development
Date19th Jul 2021AuthorGuest AuthorCategoriesStudent Life

Over the past decade the video games industry has become one of the core components of the UK tech sector. Almost everyone plays games in some way, whether on mobile, console or PC. In the UK, games development employs around 25000 people and generates as much revenue as the entire music and film sectors combined!

Home to many of the best development studios in the world, the UK is responsible for making leading games including Grand Theft Auto, Golf Clash, LittleBigPlanet, Forza Horizon, RuneScape, Football Manager, Dreams, Sea of Thieves, and hundreds more. Major international software developers like Microsoft, Sony, EA, Ubisoft and Konami also all have huge games studios based here — even Minecraft has its own UK studio. In fact, it's only Japan and the US that make more games than we do!

One of the big things that keeps the UK games industry thriving is that there are thousands of people who love making games. Whether it's creating artwork, designing new ideas, coding new features, marketing, creating music, managing the community, or more standard office roles like accounts or HR, there's a huge range of different jobs created through game development.

So how do students go from being a gamer to becoming a game dev?

Identify key skills and areas that are relevant to games software development

There's so many different areas across games that there's probably going to be something that's just right for everyone. Creative-leaning students can start by looking at the different areas across art, writing and game design. Students strong in computer science, physics or maths should definitely have a look at games programming. For those with great social and interpersonal skills, there’s huge scope across games marketing, PR and community development.

Start looking at university options as soon as possible

You don't need a degree to work in the games industry, but in such a competitive field it can be a massive help. The UK has a huge focus on games education and has several of the world's leading universities for games, including Abertay, Staffordshire & Hertfordshire. There's a wide range of courses available so students will need to research to find those that will best suit their skills and interests.

Start making games

The easiest way to be a game dev is to... be a game dev! Many game making tools are freely available and are a great way to understand more about games technology. Bitsy Game Maker and Twine are good introductions to creating basic game structures, while professional game engine software like Unity and Unreal Engine allow students to create more advanced projects. There's thousands of beginners guides and tutorials online to help students out along the way.

Some games themselves are also gamedev tools — popular games like Mario Maker and Dreams are both excellent ways to learn about game design. Several popular games also include their own editing and modding tools which let users add to or change parts of the game, and are also a really good way to learn about game development. Skyrim’s Creation Kit is one of the more well-known examples, but students can also look into the level design and story editor tools that come with games such as FarCry or Assassins Creed.

For further information, there are many people & organisations who can help support and advise on games careers:

Ukie & TIGA – The two main trade industry bodies for the UK games industry

Grads In Games - Events, resources and activities to help students start a career in games

GI Academy - Resources and information across multiple gamedev areas for all ages

Into Games – Games career resources & info for young people

POC In Play - Initiatives and events to support people of colour in the games industry

Women In Games - Activities and initiatives to support women across game development

Dan Dudley is Marketing Manager at Grads in Games.

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