Want A Career In The Games Industry?

Games Industry Careers
You could end up working on projects like the very popular Minecraft
This article covers the following sections of the Games Design Industry that you could work in.

Animator | Concept Artist | Level Editor/Builder | Programmer | Audio Engineer | QA Tester


Animators in the games industry are responsible for the portrayal of movement and behaviour. Most often this is applied to give life to game characters and creatures, but sometimes animations are also applied to other elements such as objects, scenery, vegetation and environmental effects. Specialist software packages are used to create the animations, which are used for both automated or 'in game' behaviours and predefined sequences or 'cut scenes'.
What is the job?
Game production is a collaborative process and Animators work as part of the art department team. Using the objects, models, and most importantly, characters created by 3D Artists, Animators define their movements and behaviours and apply them using the animation tools and techniques provided by the selected 3D animation software package.
Game animation can be a complex combination of many different types of movements, so the Animators must make extensive libraries of re-usable animations for each character. They are also usually responsible for the technical processes of rigging and skinning of the characters, (which involves creating an underlying structure rather like the bones of a skeleton and attaching appropriate body parts to each bone).
Essential knowledge and skills include...
  • knowledge of traditional and computer 2D and 3D animation techniques.
  • creativity and imagination.
  • knowledge of full motion video (FMV).
  • spatial awareness and a feel for movement over time.
  • knowledge of constraints.
  • ability to work independently and as part of a team.
  • organisational skills and the ability to work to deadline.
  • good communication and presentation skills.
  • knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures.
Training and qualifications
An animation-related degree is usually a prerequisite. This might be a general art course with a computer animation component, or a specialist animation course. Animators will be required to demonstrate their work through a portfolio and/or show reel. Reels should last about 2-3 minutes and detail the specific contribution the Animator made to the work. Recruiters look for a variety of genres and styles; walk and run cycles, as well as more fully developed sequences; and, perhaps most important, an ability to portray a character's personality through movement and behaviour.


Artists create the visual elements of a game, such as characters, scenery, objects, vehicles, surface textures, clothing, props, and even user interface components. Artists also create concept art and storyboards which help communicate the proposed visual elements during the pre-production phase.
Some games try to look as realistic as possible while others aim for a more stylised or fantastical look and it is the Artist's job to model and texture characters and objects to achieve the desired result. The look of the game and its graphical detail is often a significant factor in a game's success, second only to its playability.
What is the job?
Concept artists usually begin with traditional materials (eg pen and paper) and progress onto computer software. The Concept Artist sketches ideas for the game worlds, characters, objects, vehicles, furniture, clothing and other content. They also suggest level designs, colour schemes, and the mood and feel of the game. They are usually very good at perspective drawing and architecture. Although not involved in creating the actual game art, their concept will determine the look of many aspects of the game.
Essential knowledge and skills include...
  • art and design skills.
  • Awareness of colour, modelling and texturing techniques.
  • the ability to work as part of a team and independently.
  • imagination and creative talent.
  • attention to detail and observation skills.
  • good communication skills.
  • ability to work to a style guide.
  • knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures.
Training and qualifications
Concept artists in the games industry work with 3D graphics packages, such as 3D Studio Max, Maya, Softimage, etc., and 2D packages such as Photoshop. They might also use software tools that have been developed in-house.


The Level Editor defines and creates interactive architecture for a segment of a game, including the landscape, buildings, and objects. The Level Editor also develops the game play for the level, which includes the challenges that the characters face and the actions they must take to overcome them. The architecture helps to define those challenges by presenting obstacles, places to hide, tests of skill, and other elements to explore and interact with.
Level Editors play an important role in game development, creating memorable environments and game play elements to satisfy an increasingly sophisticated and widening games audience. They should also keep up to date with advancing technologies. Level Editors are employed by development studios, both publisher-owned and independent.
What is the job?
The Level Editor first sketches ideas on paper or using 2D drawing software. They have to imagine the playing experience, putting themselves in the position of the player, mapping out all the possibilities. They need to think about the logic and flow of events and actions, the conditions that need to be met for certain things to happen, the challenges the player will encounter, and the game play that occurs as a result.
The ideas are then worked out in 3D and tested in the game engine, which produces further ideas. In consultation with the programmers and artists, the Level Editor draws up a detailed inventory of level 'assets' (all the objects and programming requirements needed to make the level run in the game in its final form).Every asset can impact on the game's performance and the Level Editor must understand the technical constraints the team is working to, eg there may be a limit on the number and complexity of objects that can be displayed on screen at any one time.
Essential knowledge and skills include...
  • spatial awareness and the ability to visualise layouts; imagination and creativity.
  • excellent communication skills (both verbal and written).
  • IT skills and competence in the use of world editing tools.
  • attention to detail and the ability to evaluate quality.
  • knowledge of different platforms.
  • a passion for games and knowledge of game design theory.
  • knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures.
Training and qualifications
Level Editors usually need to be able to use industry standard 3D modelling packages, such as 3D Studio Max or Maya, and may also be called upon to learn and use game world editing tools developed by studios in-house. The ability to sketch ideas on paper and model in 3D is also useful.


Programmers work at the heart of the game development process. They design and write the computer code that runs and controls the game, incorporating and adapting any ready-made code libraries and writing custom code as needed. They test the code and fix bugs, and they also develop customised tools for use by other members of the development team. Different platforms (games consoles, PCs, handhelds, mobiles, etc.) have particular programming requirements and there are also various specialisms within programming, such as physics programming, AI (artificial intelligence), 3D engine development, interface and control systems.
What is the job?
The Lead Programmer translates the design into a technical specification for the game and then delegates tasks to the programming team. Some work as general Programmers on a whole range of tasks, often working with code that other Programmers have written. Others might have a more specific task, such as physics (eg programming movable objects so that they appear to obey the laws of gravity, etc.). Specialist tools programmers identify and design any custom tools which may be needed, perhaps by the artists or level designers, then build them to an agreed specification. The Programmers create different 'builds' of a game, liaising with the testers to fix any bugs that the QA team has identified at each stage. They might also work with a Localisation Manager to create versions of the game for different platforms and territories. There are many different programming roles.
Essential knowledge and skills include...
  • ability to write in C, C++ and other languages.
  • specific platform experience - e.g. PS2, DirectX.
  • good understanding of game play.
  • ability to work independently and as part of a team.
  • ability to take instruction and work to deadlines, tenacity and patience.
  • creativity and problem solving skills.
  • knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures.
Training and qualifications:
All Programmers start in the industry with proven ability to programme in C++ (companies will usually ask for some kind of demo and/or ask candidates to work through a test). Sound knowledge of contemporary game hardware platforms, as well as the latest software development techniques, is also highly desirable. The games industry is constantly evolving, both creatively and technically, and it is important that programmers keep up to date with the latest developments. Most training is self-driven and much happens on the job.


The Audio Engineer creates the soundtrack for a game. This might include music; sound effects to support the game action, such as gunshots or explosions; character voices and other expressions; spoken instructions; and ambient effects, such as crowd noise, vehicles or rain. The soundtrack helps to create a more immersive experience for the player by reinforcing the mood of the game. It can also enhance game play by affecting the tempo and adding emotional depth.
What is the job?
Working to a creative brief, the Audio Engineer produces a sound design for the game and, when this has been agreed, realises it. This might involve the composing, scoring and recording of music. They are responsible for sourcing any sound effects that are needed, improving or creating them where necessary. These might be real or imaginary sounds, depending on the type of game. The Audio Engineer then edits, mixes, and masters the music and sounds to produce the soundtrack for the finished game.
Game production is a collaborative process. Audio Engineers need excellent communication and interpersonal skills to be able to understand what designers and producers want from them and to keep up with any changes. They also need to communicate effectively with the programming and art department teams. They also need a sense of fun and the ability to think laterally - creating sounds, especially for fantasy games, requires creativity and imagination.
Essential knowledge and skills include...
  • ability to compose and perform music.
  • sound engineering skills and knowledge of the relevant tools and technology.
  • "aural skills", a sense of timing, and attention to detail.
  • strong communication and interpersonal skills.
  • creativity and imagination.
  • ability to work to deadlines.
  • knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures.
Training and qualifications
A musical education is beneficial, particularly the ability to compose music and play some instruments. Knowledge of relevant software packages, such as Logic Audio, Sound Forge, and Cool Edit Pro, is also useful. Candidates for audio engineering jobs will need to supply a portfolio or demo of their work. Demos should show originality, competence in various types of music, and indicate an awareness of how sound relates to games of different types.


Quality Assurance Technicians, or Testers, perform a vital role, testing, tuning, debugging, and suggesting the detailed refinements that ensure the quality and playability of the finished game. Their job involves play-testing the game in a systematic way, analysing the game's performance against the designer's intentions, identifying problems and suggesting improvements.
They test for bugs in the software, from complete crashes to minor glitches in the programme. They also act as the game's first audience, reporting on its playability, and identifying any aspects which could be improved.
What is the job?
Playing games all day for a living might sound like an ideal job to some people, but this is in fact a highly disciplined role. Testers are responsible for assuring quality in the final product and for finding all the flaws in a game before it goes public. They look for programme bugs - spelling mistakes, localisation problems (variations of the game are required for different territories), graphical or audio glitches, and also any copyright issues (such as 'branded clothing' etc.). Testers work in teams, sometimes playing together on a multi-player game, and a team might 'own' part of a game. Testing involves playing a game over and over again, testing different levels and builds (incomplete 'development versions' of a game, sometimes with various features missing). The work can be repetitive and tedious, but Testers have to test long after the novelty and fun factor may have worn off.
Essential knowledge and skills include...
  • ability to communicate tactfully with other members of the team.
  • good attention to detail.
  • persistence and patience.
  • ability to play games for long periods.
  • good negotiation and conflict resolution skills.
  • passion for games playing.
  • knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures.
Training and qualifications
Above all, Games Testers must be avid games players. They must be able to demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the industry, including the different platforms and games styles and genres on the market. IT competence, including use of spreadsheets and database packages, is also required.

A Useful Infographic...

Want A Career In The Games Industry? Want A Career In The Games Industry? Reviewed by Opus Web Design on February 14, 2016 Rating: 5

Free Design Stuff Ad