Experts give advice for getting started in the sector
In 2025 the video game industry will provide direct employment to more than 13,000 people
Going from playing video games as a hobby to turning that hobby into a professional vocation is an upward trend for a large part of the young people in the world. Emerging markets in this industry are experiencing increasing growth, which in the case of Latin America is +4.3% according to the Newzoo Global Games Market Report 2023.
According to experts, this context is serving to promote specialized professions ranging from content creation to game development, professional profiles that have positioned themselves as highly attractive options for younger players: According to the III Radiography of Gaming in Spain 90.2% of the gamers of generation Z consider them career opportunities with a future.
These are not the only figures that reflect the boom that the sector is experiencing. According to Newzoo, the number of gamers worldwide will reach 3.38 billion by 2023 and the global gaming market will generate revenue of $187.7 billion by 2026, growing +2.6% year-on-year. Also, the Argentine Video Game Development Industry Observatory (ADVA) indicates that the size of the industry calculated as a projection of human resources hired by professional profile (employees and freelancers) to 2022 reached US$ 72,341,040 with 1,495 professionals active in this field and in the country.
The latest edition of White Paper on Spanish Video Game Development claims that he gaming provided direct employment to 8,833 professionals in 2021 and to 9,893 in 2022. And an aggregate growth of 10.7% is estimated for the period 2021-2025, so that for that last year it is expected that the sector will provide direct employment to more than 13,000 people. In the opinion of Joan Arnedo, professor of the Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications Studies and director of University Master’s Degree in Video Game Design and Programming from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), this golden moment in the video game industry is due to the fact that they have gone from being a niche product or understood as a toy to being a product for mass consumption. “Now already They are a consumer product for all audiences: from the child who plays Roblox, the teenager with Fortnite, or the grandmother with Candy Crush”, he explains.
The novelty for the expert is that the sector begins to conquer other fields of entertainment, through viral phenomena such as streamers or the e-sports. Or even films or series like The Witcher, Arcane, Edgerunners o The Last of Us. “Although movies about video games have always existed, now we find quality products for all audiences,” he says. “To all this we add that large companies enter the world of video games (Amazon, Netflix, Apple), in addition to the latest purchases (or purchase attempts) of important studies by companies such as Microsoft or Sony, where video games only they are a section of their core business,” he adds.
University studies have also influenced this boom. As Joan Arnedo recalls, the first degrees related to video game development began in 2013, and four years later the first promotions graduated, “who are beginning to set up their studies. If you add a few more years, which is where we are, it can be seen that the studies that have survived have evolved, have won awards, have international prestige… It is time to grow, to go beyond the personal project of some recently graduated students“, he says.
Most demanded profiles
For the experts, this scenario already has direct effects, and that is that the demand for professional profiles involved in the development of video games has increased, although it will do so even more in the future. “As more studies are implemented here, all kinds of professional profiles will be required to meet the demand. Large studios draw on professionals who have gained experience in smaller studios or are professionals indie with a good portfolio”, explains Xavier Pallicera, associate professor of the Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications Studies of the UOC and founder of the study Cocodrolo Apps. “It is a wheel full of exceptions, but as a general rule professionals gain experience in small studios or on projects indieand from here it is easy to jump to larger studieswhere the work is more specialized and you have the opportunity to focus your career on the area that you like within the industry”, he adds.
At present, according to the White Paper, the main profiles that can be found in the studios are programmers, in charge of creating the logic of the game and the code to run on the computer, with 20%; artists, who design the working sketches and the graphic or sound elements of the game, with 17%; the designers, who devise the game mechanics from the conceptual point of view, what the player experience will be like and the level maps, whose presence is 8%, and the animators, in charge of generating the movements of the characters so that they are realistic or fit the style of the game, which represent 7%.
However, there are also less present profiles, but quite persecuted by companies, such as monetization or gaming economy experts, which may be in high demand precisely because they are in short supply. “In the world of videogames, there is a classic division of profiles between programming and art, both among trainers and among candidates who want to study. But the profile of a monetization expert does not quite fit into this dichotomy, and there are companies that have to look for them abroad, because they are not found here,” says Arnedo. Another profile that in the opinion of Xavier Pallicera may be in high demand is that of data analyst.
Tips for getting started in the sector
For experts, there are some essential strategies to start as a worker in the sector. These are the main ones:
- go to game jams. As Joan Arnedo explains, although bachelor’s and master’s degrees provide a lot of knowledge, just graduating is not enough. Personal contribution is key, since companies value initiative and personal projects, beyond those developed within the framework of formal training. That’s why it’s a good idea to go to all game jams that it is possible, in a systematic way, “to continue learning and meeting people”.
- Learn from within. According to the UOC professor, it is tempting to finish a training program and launch out as an independent study with a personal project, but nowadays “competition is fierce, so perhaps it is better to first enter the industry and learn how everything works from within, as part of an established company, before going off on your own.”
- Develop soft skills. Profiles such as programmer are very technical, but experts warn that this does not mean that it is not necessary to work on communication and soft skills (soft skills), since many times you work in a team. “It is not to fall into the topic. Companies tell us: communication must be developed. You also have to be careful with egos in a collaborative task in interdisciplinary teams,” says Arnedo. It is the same advice offered by Xavier Pallicera, who warns that currently large companies, beyond looking for good CVs, are looking for professionals who can and know how to work as a team. “Many of the job interviews are focused on seeing if there will be compatibility between the candidates and the work team. They are looking for teams ”, he assures.
- Test all profiles before deciding on a role. For Pallicera, one of the best recommendations that can be given to anyone who wants to enter the industry is to live the complete experience of designing, creating and publishing a complete game. “When you do the whole cycle, and with mobile games this is possible, you realize that this is an interdisciplinary industry, where many roles are interconnected. Many times people who start are not aware of this reality, since art and programming cover everything else. A well-rounded experience can act as a catalyst to discover which role you most identify with and which one you want to be the focus of your career path,” she advises.
- Have a good portfolio. Likewise, it is important to participate in events and projects to, little by little, have a portfolio that demonstrates the value of the candidate beyond the academic part in which they have worked, “so that your work speaks of how you work. Sometimes it is a fish that bites its tail, because without experience nobody hires you. But there are many ways around this initial barrier. Building a portfolio is one of them”, recommends Xavier Pallicera.