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Gaming

joystick 

An overview of the gaming sector

Globally, the gaming sector in 2015 was worth $91.8bn, with 1.6bn players worldwide. The largest gaming market is China, followed by the USA.

The gaming industry is growing, with 8.5% growth in 2015, and the mobile share is now larger than the PC share.

The UK is the sixth-largest games market in the world, with revenues of £4.2bn in 2015. There are currently an estimated 20 million people in the UK who play video games on a regular basis, and the gaming industry is growing throughout the mobile, PC and console markets.

The video games industry consists of studios creating console and PC games, creators of tablet and mobile device gaming apps, and virtual/augmented reality.

The video games sector works quite separately from educational games, and it is definitely useful to consider where you can see yourself working before applying.

Trends in the sector

Factors and trends currently affecting this industry and its growth include: virtual reality and the ability this brings to collaborate and play with others; augmented reality; and the rise in the number of small, independent studios. Use these resources to keep your finger on the pulse.

Computer WeeklyGamesIndustry.bizGames RadarTiga

Global, UK and regional employers

Global employers

Well-known large, global employers include Tencent, Sony, Microsoft, Google and Apple.

UK

There are almost 2,000 video gaming companies in the UK, and 95% of these are small or micro-businesses. Over 10,000 people are employed in games development and publishing work. 

Much of the industry is concentrated in London and the south-east, but the Midlands and the North are becoming important centres.

Nesta - Map of the UK Games Industry

GamesMap - interactive map of companies in the UK

East Midlands

There is a history in the East Midlands region of games development. Tomb Raider was originally developed by Core Design – based in Derby – and the city now has a road named Lara Croft Way.

The National Video Games Arcade opened in Nottingham in 2015 and there are a number of studios in Nottingham such as:

Sumo DigitalLockwood PublishingDambuster Studios

There are also smaller studios – often specialising in gaming apps for tablet or mobile – that are based in Nottingham's Creative Quarter.

 

Using your degree skills in this sector

Job roles and responsibilities

There are a wide variety of roles and opportunities for graduate from STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and non-STEM degrees within the sector.

Arts students might find opportunities around the design or creative aspects of the industry such as animation. Experience with design packages is often useful and you will need a portfolio, often online, which demonstrates your work.

You may also see writing and digital roles advertised within the industry. Some examples of relevant job titles could include Narrative Coordinator, Guides Writer and Community Manager. For all of these roles, being able to demonstrate an interest in the gaming industry would be paramount.

For programming and development roles, a degree in computer science or related subject, or substantial programming experience is useful. 

You are likely to need a demo so that you can showcase your work, and knowledge of languages such as C++ is useful. A demo consists of a small number of work examples to demonstrate some project work or coding that you have completed. These examples should include some games if possible, and employers are keen to see some practical experience, even if this has not been within a formal work environment.

Researching roles

For descriptions of roles, the skills required and real-life case studies for jobs including animator, assistant producer, audio engineer and games designer, visit:

Creative Skillset - job roles and case studies

Other opportunities exist in producing or project managing productions, as well as more general head office functions for larger companies, such as marketing, HR or finance. It is estimated that the UK games industry spent £107m on marketing during Christmas 2014!

Further study options

Although not essential, having a relevant masters qualification may be helpful and can demonstrate specific development knowledge for the gaming sector.

Make sure you investigate that the course meets your requirements and also consider whether there is opportunity to develop business and industry links through the course, or to complete industry-related projects.

Skills, work experience and networking

Demonstrating your skills and qualities

The gaming industry is a competitive sector to get into, particular with the larger studios.

You must certainly have an enthusiasm for the industry, shown through work experience, shadowing or your own projects, as well as strong technical ability

You will need to be self-motivated while also able to work with other professionals in a team setting. Creativity and problem-solving abilities are key, as well as communication skills and the ability to meet deadlines. Ahead of project launch dates, the hours are often very long so flexibility is also important.

Graduate entry level roles

For many applicants, a good entry-level role is as a games tester. This involves playing games over and over again to identify problems or bugs. It will also be useful for you to gain work experience within the sector before applying, and developing a network of useful contacts through these opportunities along with events or projects is recommended.

There are number of recruitment agencies working in the gaming sector, for example Aardvark Swift. They will work on behalf of a number of studios, recruiting graduates and experienced candidates to a wide range of opportunities.

Job boards

Games Jobs DirectGamesIndustry.biz

Internships and work experience

More games developers are offering internships, work experience or year-long placement opportunites to students. These may be advertised, but often only on their own websites, so it might be worth taking a proactive approach to locating opportunities by networking. 

You might also be able to find opportunities using a speculative CV and covering letter, even if companies are not recruiting at the moment they may keep your CV on file.

East Midlands Indies offers a local networking opportunity for independent games developers. 

Tech Nottingham also organise events and information evenings which students and recent graduates are welcome to attend.

 

Further resources

The Guardian: Video game trends that will change the future of the industry

BBC: Map of the UK's digital clusters

TechBritain: a map of the UK's technology 'ecosystem'

Tech City UK: advice and programmes design to support digital entrepreneurs

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