Roles of the Gaming Industry
California just extended the stay at home mandate until May 15th. I greatly appreciate them taking this seriously and the help they have issued to keep society going through this pandemic. As an example, earlier this week insurance companies were encouraged to return the monthly premium for car insurance for April and May as people are not driving their cars.
I want to bring attention to the variety and diversity of different roles within the gaming industry, exposing more facets to the roles than what first comes to mind like Designer, Artist, Programmer etc. There are a lot of specific, very interesting roles out there that shouldn’t be neglected or underestimated as well as a ton of specializations. This is a message of encouragement to freely explore your potential and passion in the jungle of versatility that is the gaming industry.
To keep a reasonable size on this post I have decided to not explain each role in detail. All of the roles mentioned are either within my company or I know people in these positions. This is just to give an example of how many different roles and potentials there are out there.
Art roles have a lot of grey zones. For example, animation is an art form and animators are considered artists, but Technical Animators not as much. Then we have everything ranging from Concept Artists, which can further be divided into Character Concept, Environment Concept etc., to Texture and UI Artist.
To list a couple of more we then have the 3D artists which may be specialized in hard surface, characters, architecture and more. Let’s not forget Effect and Lighting Artists too.
People management and community roles
There are a lot of people management or community related roles out there that are very fun if you enjoy working with and for people.
Producers is usually the very first obvious step if you want to be part of production but there are titles like Social Media Manager (handles social media accounts for the studio, like twitter) or Program Managers who oversee e-sport events. Especially the latter part is a relatively young line of work in the industry and goes under a lot of different names. Line Manager or Team Manager tend to the teams and individuals making sure they are satisfied at work. Of course there’s HR, Recruiting, Office Assistance and people who work to support the studio and teams every day. Today it’s becoming more common to split up people management skills from project leadership skills as handling people is a big challenge in itself on a daily basis.
There are a lot of technical specializations roles out there and Programming, or Engineering, is definitely the major part of this. The technical category is another big one that has a tendency to nudge over to other sections. As example, a Technical Artist is still more of a technical than artistic role, working to support and improve artist workflow and pipelines. The same with Technical Designer, Technical Animator and so on. Programming in itself has a lot of different branches as well going into Software Engineering, Client Engineering, Server Engineering and so on.
Designer roles are plenty and another big part of games. Combat Designer, UI Designer, UX Designer, Collision Designer, Interface Designer, Sound Designer… the list goes on. Cinematic Designer requires an eye for art and camera angles as well as technical abilities to implement scenes into the engine. We have Dialogue Designers who both write and implement ambient conversations.
Design is one of the trickiest ones to decipher from my own experience. After graduating from Playground Squad as a Game Designer I started with the title “Scripter”, then “Gameplay Designer”, followed by “Level Designer” and now “Narrative Designer”. Even though my title has changed over the years I have honestly always done similar work. I am also considered to have more of a technical role even though my title is Narrative Designer, as my job includes improving our narrative systems such as conversations, hubs, events etc. Then again, some of my colleagues are more considered as writers with the same title. Tricky.
Glossing over a lot of different roles and sub-roles we still haven’t brought up audio, music, QA, writing, analysts and again the list can expand. Then there are other, more specific roles out there relating to marketing specific for games and studios.
There are so many different routes to take and every so often it happens that a role is created for a specific specialization to more accurately define one's responsibilities and role. It's not uncommon one wants to change the initial calling and explore new territory. With this I want to showcase that titles in this industry are a mysterious thing, and at the end of the day what matters is not your title but that you are happy and content doing what you love.