Today’s Video Game Design Industry

Twenty or thirty years ago, video games were extremely rudimentary. Or, as one industry veteran bluntly states, “Most of the games really sucked!” For example, a guy with a gun would be represented on screen by a box with a line sticking out. It would move around and shoot a colored block at another box. Sad but true. Even worse, to play such games, enthusiasts would have to spend hours typing in code, which they would find in magazines.

The next step in the video game progression came when games on floppy discs started hitting retailers, typically in the form of crudely packaged products.

Video Game Screen with 3D Glasses

“Sometimes,” according to a video game insider, “the games on floppies were literally sold in plastic baggies with hand-written labels.”

But with the advent of personal computers, the industry began to take shape, and the games business began to find an audience. As it did so, specialty stores started cropping up that focused on the emerging industry.

Even as recently as a decade ago, the video game design industry could still have been described as a hobbyist or cottage industry.

“A game could be created by a small group of 5 to 10 people,” explains the video game veteran. “It would cost about $500,000 for a decent to large scale game.”

Today, ten times that number of people will work on a game, which may take from 1 to 3 years to create and have a budget in the tens of millions of dollars.

With the increase in resources, costs and risks, more advanced business practices have been implemented, with an emphasis on schedules, resource tracking, more sophisticated hiring practices, and much higher expectations from each person.

Today, the $11 billion video game industry includes computer games, dedicated gaming consoles, handheld devices, cell phones and PDAs. In the US, computer and video game and computer game sales grow every year. It’s a $24 billion dollar business in the US alone.

These days, games aren’t played just for fun, either.

“Modern video and computer games offer a rich landscape of adventure and challenge that appeal to a growing number of Americans,” according to a summit on educational games held by the Federation of American Scientists.

“People acquire new knowledge and complex skills from game play … Games and simulations can also serve as powerful ‘hands-on’ tools for teaching practical and technical skills, from automotive repair to heart surgery.

In addition, today’s students who have grown up with digital technology and video games are especially poised to take advantage of the features of educational games.”

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