Monday, August 18, 2014

Top 5 Entry-Level Video Game Jobs

by Jason Pullara

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.

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Friday, February 28, 2014


So you're a gamer. You spend your weekends slaying the Covenant and hunting orcs. You stare into your television set longingly, absolutely enamored by the beautiful artwork that game developers all over the world are able to bring to you right there in your living room. The video game industry is a vast and quickly growing field and if you've got the drive and the artistic talent, game design could be the perfect job for you.

Video games are one of the most visual mediums we have. Epic worlds are created, with thousands of details that the casual gamer may never even see. A cast of hundreds, dozens more monsters and villains, and fantastic landscapes and worldscapes populate all of the greatest games. Rightfully, there are hundreds of artists whose job it is every day to design these wondrous images for games. The video game industry is built on the artistic talent of a few very gifted individuals, one of whom could be you.

The most important thing to remember is that you must not only be incredibly talented, but willing to put in the hard work and learn. The video game industry has its own niches and rules just like any other career and when you jump into game design, you'd better be ready to learn them.

It's only recently that the game industry has even begun to hire special artists. The technology didn't use to allow for it. But now, every character and building must be carefully designed before it can go into a game. As a game artist, you'll be working on 3D models, 2D sketches, hand-sculpted models for use in 3D modeling, and much more. You should be prepared for any facet of artistic expression and be fully willing to offer any and all amazing ideas.

Game artists will work directly under the art director and game designer, the two figureheads of game design elements. Generally the job will consist of bringing to life all of the concepts presented by the writers and theorists. But, absolute artistic freedom is not necessarily given to all game artists. You must be flexible in your design, willing to work with the programming limitations of your game.

If you create something you find epic and beautiful and your game designer comes back and tells you that it's not going to work in the program, or the technology is insufficient, you must be capable of reworking your vision. Game artistry is as much art as it is structured design, almost like architecture. It's a team effort, in which you give and receive feedback constantly.

Game artistry is just one of many possible jobs in the video game industry. You might find you aren't comfortable with your artistic talent, or that you'd rather work directly on modeling, or you'd like to be one of those writers. There are many other job options in the video game industry to look into if art design isn't for you and if you're set on working in game design, you should check out them all.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Video Game Industry Jobs - What Does A Level Designer Do?

By Hitoshi Jones

A first rate video game is nothing if the levels within are not perfectly envisioned, a fun segue into the next story segment for the gamer. As a video game job, the role of level designer is key to that fun factor. Amazing game concepts with amazing characters have been ruined by repetitive, uninteresting levels. If you're interested in programming but find yourself wanting to be directly involved in the visual creation of a game, the job of level designer might be a perfect fit for you.

The level designer is foremost responsible for creating game scenarios. Often these might be scripted by the Game Designer, already outlined or even drawn up by the Game Artist, but it's the level designer who ultimately decides how a game will operate in a given scenario. How many enemies will there be? Will new enemies arrive? Will there be any puzzles? How many rooms will that mansion have?

The details entrusted to the level designer are key to any video game. The level designer's job in the video game industry becomes one of direct interaction, taking everything created by the programmers, artists, and designers and putting it together to be played by the consumer, the gamer.

Most often, as a level designer, you will only be responsible for a single level, working on it from conception to completion, usually with a small team of other designers. As the industry specializes further, creating new jobs in the video game industry, the role has become more specific, generally only involving the direct design of a level. However, it is recommended and entirely likely that you'll want to have game design and artistic talents.

This means that you need to be a creative minded person to really excel in this job. Game design relies on the creativity of its designers and as a level designer, you'll often be called upon to make decisions or offer suggestions about characters and design decisions as they pertain to a certain level. If a character needs a special suit or weapon for a challenge you've created, a major design decision must be made, and you will want to the skills and ability to properly develop your ideas.

Regardless of how much you might be responsible for though, level design is one of those video game jobs that you will find immensely rewarding. It offers the chance to operate on game specific software, directly with all of the aspects of the game's design to create a specific experience for the gamer. You are the direct link between game and gamer.

The video game industry is full of great opportunities for anyone with a keen eye, sharp wit, or amazing artistic talent. The job of level designer is only one of a few that will challenge any such individual and offer the chance to get involved in the video game industry. If you have bigger aspirations you might find yourself as a game designer, or if you're more artistic, a game artist. The field is wide open, whatever your strengths may be.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013


In all of my years of professional experience, probably the one job I get asked most about is my time as a Video Game Tester for SEGA of America. I spent several years with SEGA, and people, especially children, are always fascinated by the opportunity to make good money by doing what they love, namely playing games! Here is some advice for those looking to obtain one of these highly-desired positions.


For those looking to get a foot in the door of the Video Game Industry in any capacity, there is no more tried and truer method than the Video Game Tester position. This job brings you into the fold of the development world where you can see how the games are made, make vital contacts, and get critical game company experience on your resume. I cannot tell you how many people I have worked with who used this entry-level opening to springboard into positions in programming, game production, design, marketing, etc. Plus, there are worse ways to make anywhere from $10-15 dollars an hour (starting pay) than playing games for a living!

First of all, you need to be in a geographically feasible location to get one of these positions. Quite simply, there are not a lot of major cities in the United States that have a hotbed of gaming development. Fortunately, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area where we have numerous development firms and testing opportunities with major players such as SEGA, Electronic Arts, Sony of America, Namco, and more. Seattle, Washington is another prime location as companies such as Microsoft call it home. So if you truly want to get a shot, you’ll have to consider relocation.

One of the most compelling arguments against making such a move is that the great majority of companies hire Tester candidates as temporary employees. If you live in a city with a game company that employs testers, you will want to contact the HR Manager to see what firm they use for their temporary staffing needs. They can generally direct you to the people who screen the initial crop of candidates, then present them directly to the company. Due to the seasonal aspect of the industry, there can be times of great need where firms will hire boatloads of people, and slower times, when they have to let a number of people go, when there is not enough work to keep folks busy. As any experienced game contractor knows, your position is never guaranteed. Perm spots are hard to attain, but it can happen. The key is being able to demonstrate your value to the company, and sadly enough, playing the social game can also be a critical factor. As a temporary employee, the uncertain stability of your job is probably the most frustrating aspect of the position. Still in most cases, companies seem to be astute at identifying the must-have talent and keeping them in the fold.

Once you have connected with a recruiting firm and been submitted directly to the gaming company, its time to prepare for the interview. One of the most important things that Test Managers look for in a new hire are effective written communication skills. As the job revolves around finding and documenting bugs, or errors, in the game, the ability to concisely relay that information to the programmers so that can fix them is vital. So expect going in that you will be taking some kind of writing test. An eye for detail is also important. If you are the type of person that notices little things, or things that seem out of place, it definitely helps. Also, remember that while most game companies are very casual in nature, it is important to dress professionally and convey your sincere desire to have an opportunity. As you can imagine, there is a multitude of people who would like to have this type of position, so anything you can do to stand out from the pack helps. One of the nice things about interviewing for game companies is that you generally receive very quick turnaround on feedback, and in some instances can be hired almost immediately.


Working in the Video Game Industry is definitely a unique and enjoyable experience. There are many perks you will not find in normal companies. Do keep in mind though, that while the job is all games, it is not always fun. Like any position, there are monotonous aspects to it. For example, be prepared to test the same game over and over, for up to a few months at a time. That can be challenging. Also, expect going in that you may be assigned mind-numbing tasks from day-to-day such as checking that all weapons or items work as they are supposed, all walls in each level are solid, or even just proofreading game text. Finally, be prepared to work long hours as needed. When crunch time hits, and a game needs to ship, overtime can be required to get the game out the door. Still, overall, there are few positions where you can have as much fun on a day-to-day basis.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Have you ever dreamed of landing a job in the exciting world of video games? Then you have come to the right place! Here you will find instructional articles and strategies for breaking into this competitive industry. Here you will find the latest job openings, tips, suggestions, and more for helping you make your dream a reality.

I'm a long-time veteran of the game industry with stints at Electronic Arts and SEGA of America and I will share the wealth of my accumulated wealth to help you on your journey! feel free to respond here with any questions that can help you get started!