How to Make Money From Video Games: Part 2
The most obvious career choice for those who want to make money from their video game obsession is to work directly in the software industry. In part one of this three part series, we talked with a video games journalist who writes about games for a living. In this installment, we will talk to a student in video game artistry and design, to find out what the employment landscape looks like for new graduates, as well as some different options for those wanting to get their hands dirty and actually make games.
Sergio Gonzalez – Video Game designer / artist:
Since the age of three, gaming has been my primary hobby and form of entertainment. However, I never really wondered how the great games I played were made. As I grew up I became more curious and the game making process. Later, I knew that I needed to join the videogame industry.
My first step into game making was on the programming side. I was quite intimidated by the complexity of the game programming degree at DigiPen, one of the most well-known videogame colleges located in Redmond, Washington. I decided to shift gears and take a stab at the art side of gaming, and considering the fact that I had absolutely no art background except stick figures, I was in for quite a ride. I’m glad to say that I’ve discovered and awakened the artist within me through my current Game Arts & Design program at Mt. Sierra College in Monrovia, California.
Modern video games require massive amounts of art assets, from 3D models to textures.
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Anyone interested in earning a living by making games should consider which of the three main branches of game-making to pursue. Programming offers the best job security and fatter checks, but not many gamers have the advanced logic and number-crunching skills that an ace programmer needs. Game artists take care of the creative side, and can choose from a wide variety of specific tasks to perform, such as making characters or environments, texturing or sculpting 3D objects, or working in animation. Game designers focus on the meat of the game, laying out the levels, items and weapons, balancing the difficulty and attempting to make the most fun and addictive game with the resources available. Three very different parts that work together to make our favorite games; which side are you on?
The most important thing for game artists and designers is a solid portfolio. Sure, completing a gaming-related degree is nice, but game companies look for insight and creativity, not just experience. When it comes to a portfolio, quality over quantity is the way to go; of course, the more good-looking work you include, the better. Professional prints of your 3D renders, both in textured and wireframe modes, are a great way to showcase your work, and digital copies of your projects can be provided in a burned CD; include a jewel case with custom art of your own and be ready to be hired. Well, if your work is good enough, that is.
Various game companies offer game internships for people looking to get a foot on the door quickly. Although they are great learning experiences, internships can be risky. Unless an artist or designer works extremely well from day one, it’s likely that he or she will be cut of the team once the internship period is over; since game developers can pay soon-to-be graduates a fraction of a normal salary, they prefer to switch interns at a regular basis. Considering this, it’s best to get an internship at a company that you don’t plan to work on for a long period of time; if your dream job is at Bioware and you’re considering an internship, look anywhere else, so that you build experience and get a feel of what to expect in a different company, and then turn your focus to Bioware once you’re ready.