If you’re like many people, you fell in love with video games as a child. From the first moment you felt the controller in your hand you were hooked. If you’re still into video games, you probably have the latest and greatest systems now and wish that you could get paid to play them. Luckily, you can! Check out this quick guide to becoming a gaming engineer so that you can play video games — and create them for others — as your career.
Like any career, becoming a gaming engineer requires the proper education and training. Most hopeful game creators begin by obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Although it is preferable to attend a university that offers gaming engineering, you can also start by earning a degree in computer science or software engineering. Computer programming is also acceptable for some companies. A bachelor’s degree will likely let you enter the field, but if you hope to advance your career, you’ll probably want to obtain a master’s degree in gaming engineering and then receive ongoing education in the latest video game technology.
Your duties and responsibilities as a gaming engineer will depend on which facet of the engineering you decide to work on. Some engineers are responsible for designing the basic software used to run the video game’s program while others create the artificial intelligence or design the way the characters look and move. Some create the interactions between characters and still others spend their time creating the video game’s background scenes to add more depth to it. You might even consider creating a storyline or designing the game’s rules. The possibilities are practically endless and depend on what you’re most interested in.
Designing a video game is not an individual endeavor, so employers want people who work well with teams, first and foremost. Teamwork ensures each piece of the game fits together just right and that everybody can meet each deadline. Part of teamwork is effective communication, which means you must also be good at both communicating your own messages and listening to others when they are speaking. Naturally, gaming companies want you to have an understanding of multiple gaming platforms, be passionate about the type of game you’ll be creating, and be willing to put in plenty of time, especially when the release date is nearing.
Now that you took a moment to learn about the job description and duties of a gaming engineer, it’s important to understand the job outlook in the field. Simply put, the outlook is strong. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in video game development will jump a total of 17 percent between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than many other professions. However, keep in mind that competition will still be stiff, which makes it all the more important to keep atop of education in the field.
Video game engineers tend to put in long hours, but most people say they don’t mind it since they are working on something that they’re truly passionate about. The compensation helps as well. If you decide to develop games as a career, you can expect to start out at a salary of around $40,000 per year. Experienced developers make about $65,000 per year, and some can make upward of more than $100,000 annually, making the career as lucrative as it is interesting.
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