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Where to start

The sale of games is now higher than both music and video combined making it the fastest growing section of the entertainment industry. There are more than 2,250 companies developing, publishing and distributing games with huge investment in the industry (£1.25bn in 2018). With a flourishing industry come many career opportunities.

Many games companies are based in London, but there are also high numbers in Manchester, Bristol, Sheffield, Glasgow, and Liverpool. UKIE and NESTA have produced Gamesmap.uk, which shows where games companies are based in the UK. Use it to find organisations you might be interested in.

How to know if you’re suited to this sector

You’ll need to be more than a game player. To decide if you want to work in gaming, and to develop your skills, join gaming student societies, enter games development competitions and get coding.

The sector is broad so consider where you might fit in:

  • Production roles – publisher, producer
  • Design – gameplay designer, games writer, user experience/interface designer
  • Art/Technical Art – modelling artists, concept artists, visual effects, technical artists
  • Animation – technical animator
  • Programming – AI programmers, physics programmers
  • Audio – composers, sound design
  • Quality assurance – testers and engineers

Other less obvious roles include community manager (looking after the gamers themselves and their communities), Esports producer (planning the tournaments gamers take part in).

There are more roles in management, finance, marketing, data analysts, and translation. See Screenskills for more roles and detail of the part each plays in the games development and distribution.

Further study or certification required

Qualifications in demand include computer programming/science, physics, maths, music, art, design, and music technology.

How to find employers or training courses

Graduate schemes are rare though there are a few internships (see GradsinGames). Most people start in an entry level job and work their way up.

Consider going to gaming industry conventions to network, find out about organisations and arrange work experience. Lists of these subdivided by country can be found at gameconventioncentral.com.

If you are going to network for a career, make sure you check this is possible at the convention. Some are purely for gamers to play, so don't get sidetracked!

Use LinkedIn to look for jobs, organisations, networking opportunities. You could also look at Games Jobs Direct, and Gamesindustrybiz.

Tips for succeeding in the application or selection process

You’ll need to demonstrate skills and the potential for learning more. Modelling tools and other software are available free online (see Screenskills) so get creating and then share your ideas on blogs and forums online. Your ideas don’t need to be fully formed or at a professional level.

Specific skills will vary depending on role. For some you can simply use your technical skills. If you are working in the distribution area of the industry, skills in social media, marketing and building working relationships will be useful. Further on in your career you will need project management, teamwork, leadership and these can be developed.

Employers may well ask for a portfolio of your work (e.g. coding, scripts you’ve written, design work).

What Cambridge offers to help with this career
Other things you should know

Check out the Prospects article on games careers.

Eurogamer.net is an online resource for the gaming industry (news, reviews, profiles)