Game-changing careers in a dynamic industry
Creative Question: Is the gaming industry a viable career choice? Answer: Yes. There are lots of companies offering games-related career opportunities in the UK — but more has to be done to promote the sector at school level.
Gaming has long since ceased to be a niche past-time. In the UK, over 30 million people play games regularly — a 50/50 split between men and women — and recent figures show that the industry contributes £1.4billion to the economy.
Yet, notes Jo Twist, CEO of UKIE (UK Interactive Entertainment), the trade body for the UK's games and wider interactive entertainment industry, more needs to be done to promote the sector as a proper career choice at school level. “That's something we're going to be working hard to change in the next couple of years,” she says. “Every time I do a school talk, I'm approached by people who say: 'I didn't realise my hobby could be a career.'”
That's ironic because the UK is currently a hotbed for games companies. “Tax breaks have made a big difference in terms of studios looking to set up in the UK from overseas, or to start-up here,” says Twist. “The tools and creativity coming out of the UK is fantastic.”
You don't have to be a designer to get on in the industry, either. “The skill sets are varied,” Twist points out. “Yes we need coders and programmers; but we also need, for example, artists — and artists who can program — plus people who can sell games, those with good business skills, data analysts and data intelligence people.”
Depending on your discipline, there are different routes in. Twist notes that high-level games industry Apprenticeships are currently being set up; and she advocates enrolling on industry-led courses to learn directly from industry leaders and practitioners. “This is a fast-changing sector, and you need to keep your skill sets sharp throughout your career,” she says.