Sunday, January 3, 2010

4 Types of Video Game Industry Jobs

Ah, finally the holiday parties are over and life has returned to some semblance of normality. It seems that every time we go to some group function, K inevitably gets asked about his job as a video game developer. The automatic response then becomes "Oh, so you do a lot of programming?" Apparently, the general populace believes that all video game developers are geeks who sit in dark cubicles, furiously typing the night away. It's like assuming that everyone in a hospital is a doctor. But no worries, I've heard this explanation many a times and am happy to share what I've learned. Here are the four most common types you'll find walking around the halls of your typical development company.

The Producer
Requirements: management experience with a passion for video games
Favorite Games: Call of Duty series, anything from EA

He's slick, he's suave, he's on the fast track. This alpha male likes to talk budgets, head count, and The Schedule. He's the one who will showcase your hard months of work to the big wigs while glossing over bugs and unfinished features. Producers can run the gamut from a rough & tumble John Wayne to your typical metro business professional, but either way he will tear up the scene in any FPS fragfest.

The Computer Programmer
Requirements: C++ programming skills with an air of intellectual snobbery
Favorite Games: Starcraft, Supreme Commander, Puzzle Quest

The stereotypical computer geek who was lucky enough to make it into the industry. He'll complain bitterly about the long hours, but never leaves because he's living his dream job. He relates to his coworkers by inviting them to play RTS games over lunch, and knows most of his friends by their online screennames. It's not uncommon to see an ungodly number of soda cans proudly stacked in their cubes.

The Artist
Requirements: posseses an impressive art portfolio and demo reel
Favorite Games: Final Fantasy, God of War, pretty games!!

It's like flipping through the best and worst-dressed in People magazine: they either dress like George Clooney or Lady Gaga. Another duality is that some artists are very team-oriented, while others have that "art is my soul" elitist attitude. Frustration is a normal part of the job since their resource-intensive creations tend to be first on the chopping block. Marijuana usage during lunch is also not uncommon.

The Designer
Requirements: demonstrated aptitude for general game or system design
Favorite Games: World of Warcraft, D&D, any and everything for the sake of "research"

If the artist is the interior designer and programmer is the plumber/electrician that makes everything work, this creature is the architect of the game. Designers are in charge of the game mechanics, fiction, map layouts, systems - basically what makes the game fun. He builds specifications and systems for the programmer to make and creates the characters and a conceptual world for the artist to render. He looks like your average gamer, which can vary widely as you all know.


FrofinStitches said...

Thanks for the explanation... I have always wondered... know if they need anymore artists??? :D

FrofinStitches said...

wanted to shoot you an email. something you might like

A Gamer's Wife said...

Chris&Krysta: Unfortunately, my husband's company is at a hiring freeze, which I guess is better than layoffs. >_< Best of luck on the job search!

DanaJKalman: Nice to meet you too! Thanks for stopping by. :)

Echo M said...

My husband and I read a great book that kind of embodies the industry of game design. He has written a review on his blog, and I highly suggest the read, it had me laughing for hours.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.