In the eyes of many young people, breaking into the video games industry is the holy grail of future employment. For those who are passionate about games, making them for a living seems to be the best thing you can possibly do.
But genuinely useful advice in this rapidly developing field is very hard to come by. Careers advisors will tell you that you need to be able to program, friends will suggest that digital art is the key, and universities and colleges will offer you a bewildering variety of courses with ‘video game’ or ‘computer game’ in the title, some of them clearly more technical than others.
You’ll also find a number of coldly scientific advice articles, crawling like spiders around the internet, waiting to trap the unwary and poison all their dreams.
This little guide aims to give an injection of reality, while at the same time trying hard to encourage prospective game designers with good practical advice.
Although the author has studied and worked in the industry for several years, he’s still enough of a beginner himself to be able to remember and identify with the problems which aspiring designers may encounter. Choosing courses, and defining career pathways in this rapidly evolving industry sometimes seems like negotiating a minefield and is often managed more by good luck than good organisation.
This guide doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, but it certainly aims to arm the prospective student with information and positive encouragement, at the start of what will be a long, confusing but always exciting journey. It is aimed primarily at school and college students who may already know that they want to work in the video games industry, but aren’t yet sure which sector or course is right for them, but it may also be useful for anyone seeking a change of direction.
In particular, it deals with the evolving concept of ‘game design’ – what it is, what it is not, and what are the current routes into design as a career.
Charlie Czerkawski is a Scottish born game designer and one of four partners in Dundee based, award winning, independent video game developer, Guerilla Tea. He is a qualified mathematician, with a postgraduate MProf in Games Development from Abertay University. He has worked in video game testing on many titles including Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City, Dirt 2 and Red Dead Redemption. He holds a shodan black belt in Shotokai Karate, is a keen sportsman and loves to travel.
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