Explore options on how to turn your passion for gaming into a career, no matter your age
October 7, 1972, the earliest known video game competition to ever take place happened for a game called Spacewar!.
In the 50 years since, esports as we know it has expanded into a nationwide phenomenon, taking on attention and opportunity in ways that the “Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics” could have never predicted. What was once a community limited to competitive gaming and niche interest now includes a catalog of opportunity for all, regardless of race, gender, age, or interests. In this article, we outline four careers that can be explored in the esports community, regardless of educational background or career goals.
This will be a part of an ongoing series helping interested parties build the career that they want in the gaming industry
STREAMER / INFLUENCER / CONTENT CREATOR
🧿 Average US Salary: $50,721 (Indeed)
Since YouTube’s launch in 2005, the way that careers are built and pursued has changed significantly. Content creation, a profession once limited to media companies and corporate decision-making, has become accessible to anyone with a few minutes and an interest in the craft.
Due to the way that content creation functions, there are a variety of ways for an individual to break into the industry. While there’s a common misconception that YouTubers and Twitch streamers require a set-up worth hundreds to thousands of dollars, it’s easy for anyone to begin a content creation career depending on your interests and goals. Streamers and YouTubers can use applications on their phones, tablets, or other devices to record, edit, and promote their content. Artists and writers of any medium and interest can utilize social media for marketing themselves and building a digital portfolio. For those more interested in photography or modeling, many companies like Samsung and Apple also offer opportunities as brand ambassadors, where you can earn pay or benefits for creating promotional material on social media.
🧿 Average US Salary: $86,579 (Indeed)
Anyone who has used the internet for longer than five minutes knows that one of the biggest draws to a website is how user-friendly it is. Site navigability, visual appeal, and accessibility are all elements that can make or break the site’s attraction and the amount of traffic that it gets. It’s for this reason that a User Interface Designer – or a UI Designer for short – is essential to any team, whether it’s at a corporate or personal level.
While a UI designer is not solely responsible for the programming or maintenance involved in website development, the career involves a working knowledge in programming codes, such as Java or CSS, and an understanding of website functionality and appeal. In tandem with UI and website developers, UI designers are responsible for the visual elements a website boasts, creating graphic images and site interactivity meant to not only attract an interested user, but also encourage further return to the website.
UI designers can break into the industry with or without academic experience or knowledge. An interested individual with time and dedication can teach themselves the ins-and-outs of the principles, techniques, and skills necessary for creating user-friendly interfaces. This includes knowledge of graphic design concepts, accessibility and inclusivity awareness, and an ability to create wireframes and prototypes. A degree or certificate in UX and/or UI design can also go a long way in not only cementing your abilities and skills, but marketing yourself in the professional world.
🧿 Software Engineer Average US Salary: $119,385 (Indeed)
🧿 Software Engineer Average US Salary: $101,160 (ZipRecruiter)
There’s no argument that a game can’t exist without a code and platform to exist on. Game developers are instrumental to a project’s success, solely because they’re the ones responsible for building the game itself.
A career in game development is both a rigorous and fulfilling path, particularly for those interested in programming and computer languages. Developers are given a concept or idea, and are responsible for bringing it into reality through a use of coding, testing, and collaboration. The amount of developers working on a game at the same time depends on the size of both the game and the team creating it. Undertale creator Toby Fox was solely responsible for the game’s design, development, and promotion; comparatively, triple AAA project Cyberpunk 2077 was worked on by, at its peak, over 530 developers!
Game development operates at four different levels. Many developers get their start in indie (or independent) projects, which are mostly self-funded games worked on by an individual or small team. Many popular games, particularly ones made for PC, are the work of indie creators who may spend up to several years working on a singular project.
Third-party developers, like Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard, develop and publish games for themselves, or at times for other game publishers. Second-party developers, like Pokemon developer Game Freak, will develop games exclusively for a specific console, but is not fully owned by the platform or console itself. The final level sees developers creating games internally for a single platform or console, much like Sony-owned company Naughty Dog. What level you work at and pursue will depend entirely on your experience, your specific game development interests, and how involved you want to be in the creative process.
🧿 Average US Salary: $84,489 (Indeed)
For those interested in a career in the gaming industry, but are better with a pen than a line of code, game design might just be the field for you!
While oftentimes the terms “designer” and “developer” are used interchangeably, particularly in the gaming industry, both professions actually have entirely different skill sets! Game developers are instrumental to the functionality of a game, whereas game designers are imperative to the creating the narrative experience. This field usually consists of visual and fine artists, such as artists and scriptwriters, that build the world that the player interacts with. It’s for this reason that it acts as a good career path for those who may want to pursue gaming, but may not have the interest or technical experience for building the code itself.
Game designers, much like game developers, can break into the field at a level befitting their experience, interests, and professional needs. Many indie teams leverage a strong visual and narrative appeal to make up for a lack of brand recognition, especially for first-time projects. At the same time, animators, environmental artists, and script writers are instrumental to the success of triple AAA titles, like the highly-acclaimed Elden Ring.
At the end of the day, any career will require time, dedication, and a healthy pursuit of interest. It’s up to you to decide how you can best utilize your skills in order to create the future of your dreams. Keep an eye out for future entries into this ongoing series that will highlight even more lucrative careers in gaming!