Not too long ago, avid video gamers had a bad rap as those who wasted time on an unproductive activity. One can call to mind the image of a mom yelling at her adolescent son, “Turn off the Xbox and go play outside!”
The cultural perception of gamers is beginning to change, though, and it’s mostly because video gaming has become so enormously popular.
Newzoo Insights estimates that about 2.9 billion people will play some form of video game in 2021. And these aren’t just teenagers, either – about 70% of gamers worldwide today are 18 years or older.
In 2018, the gaming industry generated total revenue of $131 billion, according to Variety. Gaming is big business and, for dedicated gamers, there are now tons of opportunities to turn their hobby into a career.
Video Game Artist, Audio Programmer, and Game Producer are just a few exciting unconventional jobs that you can get. You can also compare salaries for various video game related fields online.
Here are the best jobs for gamers today:
Video Game Artist
If you have a passion for games and drawing, the video game artist career path might be worth checking out. Game Artists today are generalist animators who create 2D and 3D art for video games.
Typically, Game Artists specialize in one of the many visual elements of art design during game development. These elements include characters, objects, textures, environments, weapons, etc. Game Artists begin with sketches and then turn them into 2D or 3D animations for the games.
An associate’s degree in Video Game Art could be enough to land an entry-level position as a Game Artist. One could also pursue a bachelor’s degree in game design or game art and animation, which provides a broad background in digital graphics and video game design. The median salary for Video Game Artists in 2018 was $77,200, and the profession is expected to see a 4% rise in job openings between 2019 and 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Video Game Producer
People who are organized, outgoing, and enjoy project management may be interested in the Video Game Producer career field. Game Producers are like book editors, film producers, and product managers – they manage the game development process and make sure stuff gets done.
There are many moving parts in game development, and game producers must communicate with each department to help guide the project toward completion. They also must work with public relations, meet with industry executives, and be comfortable speaking in front of cameras and groups.
Unlike Game Artists, the path to Game Producer isn’t as clear-cut. Most studios/companies will require a bachelor’s degree in a related field, like computer science, digital media, or business. Many Game Producers start as Game Testers and then move their way up the quality assurance ladder.
The median salary for Game Producers was $90,270 in 2018, according to the BLS. That’s 40% above the national average, so it’s a well-paid gig. The BLS reports that the job market for Game Producers is expected to grow by more than 9% between 2016 and 2026. Overall, a pretty nice career field!
Becoming a Game Producer is fine, but working as a Professional Gamer would be a dream come true for most gamers. With the explosion of the Esports industry in recent years, this has become possible for many gamers.
A Professional Gamer is a full-time competitive player paid to play, similar to a professional athlete or poker player. Most Pro Gamers play solo or on teams and win prize money in Esports tournaments.
Elite Pro Gamers can earn big bucks, too. Top prizes in U.S. gaming tournaments can reach up to $200,000, and, in international tournaments, the prize pool sometimes reaches into the millions. Pro Gamers at the very top, like pro athletes, also have high annual earnings from prize money and sponsorships.
But just like becoming an NFL quarterback is far from easy, it’s not easy to become a Pro Gamer, either. Trying to go pro in gaming is similar to trying to become a full-time musician or artist: you’ll probably have to keep your “day job” or have other sources of income.
If you can’t make it pro, becoming a Gaming Streamer is an option. Streamers function like bloggers or social media creators. They provide audiences with live gaming content on platforms like Twitch or YouTube and make money via subscribers, affiliate marketing, donations, and ad revenue.
Gaming Industry Future Looks Bright
The Video Game industry is booming, and the future looks bright. Variety projects the valuation of the gaming industry to jump to $300 billion by 2025. The job market in video gaming is expected to grow by 9.3% between 2016 and 2026, according to the New England Institute of Technology.
Securing a job in the gaming industry isn’t as hard as it used to be, and there are tons of exciting career opportunities. In addition to the positions we listed, other great jobs in the industry include Audio Programmer, Game Designer, Game Tester, Writer, Technical Support Specialist, and more.
If you love gaming, consider some of these options. It’s a chance to turn a hobby and passion into a full-fledged career.