Getting a job in the video game industry seems like a great idea to gamers: you get paid to help create or perfect the very product that you love to play. And while it does take a lot of work, a job in the video game industry can be very rewarding; but, how do you get your foot in the door and start down the path of creating these entertaining gems? You, my friend, need to get an entry-level position with a gaming company.
First, let’s discuss what exactly an “entry-level” position is: it’s something on the ground floor that usually doesn’t have the years of prior experience required of other positions; however, there are usually some requirements, like having a High School diploma, GED, or College Degree. Let’s face the facts: video games are a highly technical field, and you’re not going to get anywhere if you’re not educated.
With that being said, here are the Top 5 entry-Level Video Game Jobs:
Public Beta Tester – While not technically a paid position, by properly beta testing products you can help yourself stand out in your field. Now, I’m not talking about play testing – where you get to play around with a nearly complete product. No, I’m talking about true beta testing – where bugs need to be documented properly and recreated in a reliable manner. Even if this doesn’t directly lead to a job, it can help with the necessary experience required for a real technical position.
Internal Game Testing – This position is slowly being outsourced to other companies that specialize in the field of testing products, so if you choose this route be aware that you may never actually get to work in a gaming company, but a company that works with gaming companies.
The job is pretty simple: play a game, find bugs, report those bugs; but, the job is pretty tedious as well: you need to play one section of a game over and over in a designed fashion so that every possible action the player could take is covered and does not cause an undesired outcome (i.e. the game crashes). Sure, it’s not glamorous, but it’s a decent paying job and you get to sit on your butt and stare at a computer screen all day.
Technical Documentation – if writing programs or beta testing isn’t your cup of tea, or if you really excel at writing, then perhaps the area of technical documentation would be right up your alley: you’ll be writing most of the internal documentation covering a variety of topics from how to use a chunk of code to how to properly restart a game during beta testing so that no data is lost.
Jr. Programmer – If you dream of algorithms and fixing bugs, then the Jr. Programming position might just be for you. Granted, you’re not going to be writing the most complex pieces of code in the world, but you will be double-checking the work of Sr. Programmers and writing smaller chunks of code as a blistering pace. While you won’t generally get to spend a great deal of time actually playing the games, you will get to help create the backbone of the game.
Production Assistant – This position you might consider to be the “holy grail” of the gamer: you don’t need to muck with code, or test games until your thumbs fall off, and you still get to take part in the development of the game. The only problem, of course, is that you’ll be an assistant to a producer: organizing schedules, meetings, conferences, calls, and doing all of the mundane tasks that your boss doesn’t want to do.
Those are, what I would consider to be, the Top 5 Entry-Level Video Game Jobs. No, they’re not glamorous in the least, but at least they will help you get your foot in the door. Plus, they’ll help you decide if the Video Game industry is right for you.