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An Introduction to the Games Industry

We chatted with David Amor, Director at mobile gaming company MAG Interactive, to learn about the different careers paths in the games industry and the variety of job opportunities available in Brighton’s thriving games sector.

Read on if you’re looking for advice about how to get your foot in the door or transition your skills into this exciting industry…


The greater Brighton area is a games industry hub. Although you might not know of the companies responsible, it’s an area that’s been responsible for hit games on console, PC and mobile. There are around 30 game developers in the area making games for Sony, Sega, Warner Brothers and Electronic Arts as well as independent studios carving their own successes.

Historically it’s been an industry that’s been hard to break into, full of arcane systems hidden behind non-disclosure agreements, but the barriers to entry to this healthy industry have never been lower and it’s a sector where there’s more demand than supply.

I’ve been part of the games industry for a long time and have made many games in different capacities, mostly on the management side. It’s been fun to do a job I love while seeing it explode from a nerdy hobbyist pursuit in the 90s to a world where 2.5BN people are gamers, generating $160BN annually - bigger than movies and music combined.

In terms of revenue, mobile takes the largest share, but console and PC games account for more employment as the games are generally bigger in scope and team size.

MAG Interactive offices

Who works in the games industry?

I’m sure there are better statistics available somewhere but I’d say, in order of most to least I’d guess

  • Programmers
  • Artists
  • Designers
  • Animators
  • QA Testers
  • Analysts
  • Management
  • Audio

If you’re outside the games industry and asking yourself what would make a good entry point then I’d ask yourself what you can do and what roles are people hiring. As much as I might like messing around in Photoshop I’ll never be a game artist because I know I don’t have the required ability. Conversely, although I might consider myself great and sound effects and music composition, it’s not a role that’s frequently hired for.
 

Programmers

A programmer/ developer in the games industry will never go hungry. Whether it’s building a console game in C++, a mobile game in C# Unity or server tech in Java, there’s an insatiable appetite for talent. Thirty years ago the skills required were one stop short of a rocket scientist, but now the programming is sufficiently high level and documented that it can be picked up fairly easily. We don’t need people to be able to talk in binary, just contribute to a game project, get on with people and finish things bug-free.
 

Artists

What’s required from artists varies from company to company. 3D and animation work tends to be done in Maya and 3DS Max; 2D work tends to be done in Photoshop. Illustrative work is required from time to time, but 3D and 2D work are far more common. A portfolio that shows breadth of ability is useful because usually an artist will have to adhere to an existing art style and being adaptable is important. A portfolio that shows GUI or animation work is also useful. You don’t need to be the world’s best artist but you need to understand the industry standard and demonstrate work at that level.
 

Designers/ Management

These two roles tend to be difficult entry points for people outside of the industry. They require an intimate knowledge of how games are built which is hard to learn unless you’re on the inside. Instead, these roles tend to be filled by people that have moved from other disciplines.
 

QA Testers

Most game companies use on-site quality assurance as well as external quality assurance. Since games are continually updated, they need continual testing. QA positions often serve as an entry point into other disciplines in the game industry.
 

Analysts

Whether on console, PC or mobile, games are now constantly analysed and tweaked post-release. This is probably the newest discipline to become game production but it’s now essential. Understanding how people are playing the game plays a large part in building a roadmap for future features.
 

Audio

Great games need great audio, but this is a role that is very oversubscribed. In the past, I’ve hired one audio person per 50 people in other disciplines, which means few positions are available.
 

What kind of company should I work for?

It’s good to be passionate about what you’re doing but prepare to be flexible about the kind of games you make and the company you work for. Look past the big brands and look at the company making them.
 

Some of the smaller companies often offer a more interesting role on a more interesting project.


Do some research about the company and the people running them. Also, look at the companies connected to the games industry: games journalism, games research and user interface specialists all have a great presence in the area.
 

Is previous experience required?

This can be a frustrating bulletpoint in any job spec if you’re trying to move into the sector. My advice, whatever discipline, is to try and do something by yourself to demonstrate you have what it takes. My last hire had made his own mobile game, put it on the app store, analysed it and could talk intelligently about how it performed. The fact that it wasn’t a commercial release became immaterial when it became clear that he had the same skills that I required. About 60% of commercially released games are built in Unity, which is a free software development environment, so try to create something simple but polished using that. Or join forces with others that are looking to achieve the same thing.
 

Try and do something by yourself to demonstrate you have what it takes.


How much does it pay?

Due to supply and demand, talented people can command good remuneration. There are probably other industries that pay better for similar skills but the overall package of interesting work, competitive salaries, good perks and a rewarding work culture make most games industry jobs attractive. If you’re looking for a number then you might want to look at this spreadsheet, which covers remuneration for a variety of roles across the UK, although it seems a little low to me.
 

Need more information?

I’m personally very happy to help people either in the games industry already or looking to try and get a foothold. As part of the advisory board of Wired Sussex it’s part of my remit, so feel free to drop me a message via LinkedIn here.
 

You can also find related careers advice in our talent interview series, plus check out the latest job opportunities in games on our site here
 


David AmorDavid Amor has three decades of game production and leadership experience across computer, console and free-to-play mobile. At Electronic Arts and Bullfrog, he experienced the highs and lows of blockbuster game development before co-founding Relentless where they created the PlayStation game Buzz!, a franchise which generated around $500M at retail.

Along with talented co-founders, David built a free-to-play mobile studio which was acquired by Stockholm-based MAG Interactive, responsible for heavyweight word and quiz games including Ruzzle, WordBrain and Quiz Duel.

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