Video Games

5 Surprising Jobs at Video Game Companies

Video game jobs are like the holy grail of “geek” jobs. With the growing popularity of mobile games, crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and the internet making it easier to distribute indie games to the public, it’s a great time to jump into the business.

Many people think that to join the industry, you have to be a game developer or a programmer. What’s great about the video game business is that it is a business, requiring tons of other jobs. Here are 5 surprising jobs needed in the industry.

1. Writers

Writer jobsEvery game has a story. That means somebody has to write that story down.

Ok, so this one might not be the most surprising job, but it’s more common than people think. Many games have a host of writers collaborating together to create dialogue, books, scripts, storyboards, and character biographies.

Most video game writers help write the plot, develop the storyline, and also create the atmosphere. Any type of lore in video games fall directly to the writers, who create that rich backstory for the world.

For example, in The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim there are around 350 readable books. That means that somebody at Bethesda had to write 350 books. (At least some of them are only a few pages.) While some are simply diaries or poems, they all helped create the magical world of Tamriel.

Typically, studios look for people with a degree in creative writing or extensive experience writing in the game’s genre. Many great video game writers got their start with small indie developers writing conversation text on a 2D side scroller.  

2. Composer/Audio Editor

Having a dynamic musical score is what takes a good video game and makes it a masterpiece. So if you have a passion for music, this is a very attractive career choice.

Some of the most iconic video game songs were first created by combining bips and beeps to make music. Now though, many composers use a range of tools, from single instruments to full symphonies to make the right music.

The music for a game doesn’t just rely on music, but creating an atmospheric soundtrack. Great horror games skip typical “music” for a muted spooky feel, included creaking of floor panels, a baby’s rattle and light scratching. A composer needs to incorporate all of those sounds together and make them flow correctly. Great video game composers knows how to make the music reactive, changing during the player’s actions and immersing them into the game.

Games also require a large host of sound effects to make the game even more real. This includes creating the sound in house and editing pre-existing effects.

These jobs usually require a degree in music, and experience with editing software.

3. Community Manager

Do you love talking about games? Are you a social person? You might love being a community manager.

A community manager can fill a variety of roles depending on the studio, but mostly they handle social media accounts, monitor forums for their game, get people hyped to play and address complaints. They also decipher and forward reports of game bugs to the developers and programmers.

These jobs require a degree in public relations or marketing. Having tons of experience with social media channels and the internet as a whole is also required.

These positions are also very competitive, but with a lot of hard work, it is possible. One of the main community managers at EA is only 22 years old and manages accounts for major AAA games.

4. Business Management/Human Resources/ Marketing

Believe it or not, video game companies are just like normal companies. They have HR departments, managers, marketing departments, and accounting.

While many consider these the “pencil pushers” for the creative workers, they are still invaluable members of their teams. They get the chance to help produce a great game and take pride in what they have done.

These jobs are highly competitive because many people want to work at a video game studio. Standing out from the pack requires extensive experience and further education. One solution is getting a masters education, either online or in person, in business management or a related field.

5. Game Consultant

Are you an expert in a certain field that has little business application? You might be the perfect fit for a consultant role for a certain genre of gaming. While this may not be the most stable of jobs or tons of job security, it’s a great way to make some cash using your extensive knowledge.

Did you get a degree in history and have an extensive knowledge of historical naval battles? You might find a game company designing a naval war game needing an expert like you. With gamers demanding more realistic games, positions as game consultants are becoming more and more common.

Some possible degrees that may warrant becoming a game consultant are: sociology, theology, fashion design, engineering, and anthropology.

Getting Started

Sorry to bring a dose of reality, but you won’t start out working at a huge AAA company like EA or Bethesda. The big companies want and can afford the big names in the industry, but don’t let that discourage you. Everybody started somewhere and you should to.

Look into joining a small studio making mobile games or start your own. Many game companies start as a group of friends designing a game for fun and it goes big with a hit indie game. Then the creators of that game start getting headhunted by large game corporations and it’s all uphill from there.

The Author

Ben Allen

Ben Allen

Champion of Hyrule, defender of space, bane of demons, savior of light, and occasional pizza eater.

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