Designing Video Game Designers

An education is essential for business success in any industry. Many graduates of liberal arts degree programs have gained critical analysis skills that are necessary to discover creative solutions to difficult problems. In the video game development world, learning to code games effectively is another crucial part of the puzzle.

Many people think of video games as a mindless entertainment meant to be enjoyed by engaging as few brain cells as possible. However, the more successful video game ventures are often quite erudite and scholarly. A simple browser-based computer game version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby may stray slightly from the book. The main character fights enemies by throwing his hat and has to defeat the set of eyes made famous by the book’s cover as the game’s final boss. But the coverage by Forbes proves that the game, simple as it is, was effective at drawing a large audience.

Video game developers with a background in athletics don’t do as well, typically. Curt Schilling was a famous baseball pitcher when he played for the MLB’s Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox. As owner of 38 Studios in Providence, R.I., Schilling recently announced that the company would be unable to make a $1.1 million payment to Rhode Island’s Economic Development Corporation on a $75 million loan made in 2010.

Schilling’s strongest prerequisite for obtaining a $75 million loan to run a video game development startup? Winning the World Series three times.

Video game development attracts a lot of money because of the potential profits to be made in the entertainment sector. But game development can cost many millions of dollars upfront before a single unit is even sold. Once on the market, a game can flop entirely, like the role-playing titles released by 38 Studios.

Increasingly, the video game industry is turning to social media platforms for game development. The quick and viral exposure of games from developers like Zynga have increased the awareness of the potential of vast exposure for games through Facebook. Many smaller startups in the video game development industry are finding that the social media model can support them financially.

According to the New York City newspaper MetroFocus, there were 55 video game development companies operating in the NYC area alone during 2010. Overall, the state only accounts for five percent of the companies involved in the video gaming industry, a far cry from healthier markets like California, home to 40 percent of the country’s video game industry. By 2009, MetroFocus reported that 5,474 total video game industry employees worked in New York State. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that developers of software applications, such as video games, earned an average wage of $92,080 in 2011.

A proper education in software programming and video game development will result in both good salaries and successful game releases, in most cases. Learning to code effectively for different consoles and game genres is a useful skill to hone for a career in video games. Being able to throw a 95 mile-per-hour fastball high and inside the strike zone is not, at least for this industry.

Drew Hendricks
Drew Hendricks is a tech, social media and environmental addict. He's written for many major publishers such as National Geographic and Technorati.

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