One Person’s Career In the Video Game Business
The JobMonkey staff caught up with a telecommunications technician, who runs the streaming video content for a leading video game design company. See what he has to say about working in the business and his own job.
You happen to work for one of the video game industry’s top companies. What route did you take in your career?
I got my BA in communications. My degree was in broadcast and TV production. I actually started out as a (video game) tester, but applied for (my current) position when it came up because of the media, video, and film background needed for handling the streaming video contents.
What should those entering the video game industry expect?
I sometimes think that there is a problem with new grads coming into the workforce: They believe strongly in what they want to do with their majors and the studies they have done. Who could blame them, with four or sometimes five years of work (at college)? But especially in the Silicon Valley (in California), with cutting-edge technology, the workplace and opportunities are constantly changing. You find that positions are rapidly changing, especially in specialized fields such as gaming. It is naïve to think that survival will be based on the old-school mentality of sticking to your guns.
In your opinion, and without revealing too much about your company’s plans, what types of skills do you believe will be critical in the future for those seeking careers within the video game industry?
The buzz word definitely centers around online skills, whether it be marketing, producing, or game designing. The market saturation with consoles and not enough games – or quality games – being produced has everyone (at my company) thinking next level or next-gen with the online market.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your career?
Like I mentioned before, revamping your mindset when it comes to job skills, while keeping your actual career goal still in sight. I am fortunate in that sense to be in a field that I enjoy. A serious environment, yet fun as well. Where else can you make great money and play (video game) tournaments during lunch breaks?
What do you wish you had known before starting in the industry?
Well, they are doing it now with certain universities, and that is offering gaming industry courses. Just having that knowledge would have given me a head start on building a resume or constructing one, at least for one of the specified positions within the industry. We have interns with different majors working here during the summers.
What do you believe is the biggest misconception others have about working for a video game studio?
The obvious is that we play video games all day, definitely not true for support guys like me. The talented game designers make up the game, the producers put it together, and the testers play games all day, but being a former game tester myself, (I know that) playing something for 12 hours is not necessarily fun. It is, but it isn’t.
Legendary video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto has been quoted as saying, “Don’t just play video games. Go out and experience as many things as you can. I became a video game designer without ever having played a video game before.” Do you think that’s still possible – to be a video game designer without playing video games?
This is definitely true. Being a former tester for (several big companies), I was able to view game development from the production side. Understanding processes for making a game from the ground floor on up has helped in my success with my position. Learning the studio’s jargon and lingo with producers and game developers, artists and lead artists, along with the QA and CQC teams has benefited me tremendously … Now (someone becoming) a video game designer without playing a video game seems more of a philosophy than actual advice. I do know that fresh ideas and out-of-the-box thinking are definitely encouraged in making a good title, and these days that is a premium. Who can argue with the Wii kicking (butt)?