[In this excerpt from his book Cheat Mode (also available for Kindle), author Dan Jacobs outlines the many career opportunities available to games industry newcomers.]
In this chapter, we will examine the individual job roles within the industry, what they're really like, and what will aid your career more, experience or education. We'll also look at other aspects of the industry like the working hours, and how all of this affects the people working in the industry.
Let's explore the daily working life in the industry by looking at the roles themselves and what they're really like. Please keep in mind there are a huge amount of different roles in the industry and I couldn't possibly cover them all in this book. I've tried to give you a good mix of development roles and other types of roles in the industry, but this is by no means a comprehensive list.
Don't just know about your discipline (Audio, Art, Animation, Code, Design, Q.A., Production) get to know what the others do and how the whole team fits together. The more you know about the other disciplines the easier it will be to find solutions for what is in effect, the newest and most exciting industry of our age!
Audio Director, Vatra Games
If it moves, it's animated, and the Animation Department deals with all moving elements within a game, as well as any moving content within a game (characters, plants, animals, weapons, etc.). They also work on the game's cut-scenes, lip-sync and any trailers or attract modes the game may use.
Roles: Junior Animator, Animator, Lead Animator
As an Animator, I was responsible for creating all animated sequences for the game. As I was an animator of a sprite based game, my animation work was 2D sprite based animations, which included a range of images that are then played in order to create the animated sequence.
VFX Artist, Codemasters
Roles: Junior Artist, Artist, Lead Artist, Head of Art
The Art Department creates the game's look. From the environment to the characters, the menus to the objects, all of it is created by the Art Department. Artists also create the concept artwork used in the pitching process.
I manage the art style of the game and work closely with the individual members of my team to ensure they are working efficiently, they are on style and the quality of work is maintained for all art going in game. I liaise with my Lead Coder and Lead Designer to ensure their art requirements are met and when I can tear myself away from meetings I contribute to the game's art directly, usually in a fairly strategic fashion.
Lead Artist, Doublesix Games
Sound (SFX) and music (BGM) all fall into the audio team's domain. These guys create and implement all sounds and music used in the title.
Roles: Audio Engineer, Lead Audio Engineer, Head of Audio
Well it usually starts with some idea for style. Sometimes it's very specific like "We want John Williams, Star Wars music", or "We want Edward Scissor Hands". Other times it can be vague and ambiguous. Then usually some temp track is put into the game to test the style. A temp track is a term we use for a piece of music that is classed as a placeholder. If the tests are successful and the Creative Director is happy then you can start to think about a composer. It may be you or it may be someone else who is more suited to producing that kind of style. A music brief is then put together and interviews take place. There are many different ways of implementing music into a game. So it's not always the same job.
Audio Director, Vatra Games