Universities press 'start' on video games careers

video game carreers

Higher Education institutions are adapting to train the growing number of professionals needed in the video games industry.

Photo: Bigstock.

The video games industry has changed a lot in the last decades. It went from being a niche product that could be made by a small group of people to one of the largest economic sectors, bigger than the movie and music industries together.

Just in the United States, there was a turnover of 211 billion USD dollars in video games sales, and the job opportunities for game designers, which is only one of the several positions offered by the industry, grew 7% in the last three years.

The reason is the high demand for video games as products. About 17 million people between 16 and 64 years old have played video games this year. With this precedent, we can talk about video games as a product of mass consumption.

Such a change in the market has repercussions on the educational offer of the universities. What are universities doing to prepare professionals that can be integrated into the video game industry?

An industry that keeps growing

In the same way that the consumption and production of video games are growing by leaps and bounds, the number of companies that make them and the number of people they employ increases; the educational offer has changed according to this growth.

Ten years ago, you could only find careers related to video games in elite universities; nowadays, there are enough universities offering programs in development and design. You can find not one but two lists from reputable sites listing more than 70 universities and colleges providing careers related to video games.

And that is just for roles like design and development; but the video games industry also needs other kinds of professionals to keep thriving, like artist, animators, and scriptwriters. More and more universities are offering programs with specialties so these careers can focus on the production of video games.

Moreover, the level of education in the field has also risen, more than a third of the people working in video games has a masters degree or even a Ph.D.

A game of skills

A video game designer performs the functions of a data analyst, a plotter can map levels, and a programmer writes the code on which the game will be built. Therefore, it is imperative that the professional in this sector be able to perform in various roles, coordinate to meet the objectives, and work collaboratively with the other members of the team.

In theory, it’s also a job with international relevance, since code transcends linguistic barriers. This is one of the main reasons why the video game industry has grown so much in so little time. The majority of professionals who work in this sector started as gamers, and then made the jump to start working on the games they loved.

The transition between gamer and developer is relatively short. It’s easier to learn when you have passion for what you do, and the video game industry has one of the highest rates of people who love their job, another of the main reasons of the explosive growth in the sector.

Video games have expanded as a product, and now they can explore other uses beyond entertainment, like the development of game-based learning 4.0. With this new approach, comes a new challenger, as any old school gamer would say, and it consists of training new professionals with a balance between their technical and humanistic skills.

Video games started with the sole purpose of entertaining. Now they have many more useful applications in other fields like education, medicine, emotional well being, and more. We can undoubtedly say they are opening a path towards progress in many areas, and the best part of it is that it will be fun.