Work for Play: Careers in Video Gaming

Work for Play: Careers in Video Gaming

Blog post by Lela
Friday, April 22, 2016

I recently got into a fun discussion (i.e. argument) with some members of my family about video games, because, despite my now being an adult, my parents still do not understand me. I like video games. I enjoy playing video games, talking about video games, reading about video games, and I enjoy watching video games. I started gaming in the years when most of the time, only one of the four or so kids in the basement was actually playing a game while the rest were having a great time watching and waiting for their turns.

I remember the book-loving kid that I was taking advantage of my waiting turn to read through the manual to Super Hang-On, a motorcycle racing game for Sega Genesis that we could never pass the first race of, and discovering that there was a button we never knew about that gave you a speed boost. Being a little sneak, I waited until my turn to blow my friends’ minds by demonstrating what I had learned from the book, and passing the first course for the first time. The things you can learn from books.

The discussion with my family was about them thinking it was silly that anybody would just sit there and watch somebody else play a video game. I asked them how sitting and watching a million hours of football every Sunday is any less silly, especially when I often actually play the games I watch. After this I went on to talk about the money in it and in the video games industry generally. Twitch.tv, one of the most popular game streaming sites, was recently bought by Amazon for almost a billion dollars. Billion with a “B.” A team of people created a web site where gamers could stream live video of the games they were playing, while interacting with their audience. And this humble beginning led to the site being bought by Amazon for almost a billion dollars.  How silly is that? The people streaming games have the potential to make an awful lot of money as well. Some are even able to make a career out of it. People have also used the site to make money for charity. Awesome Games Done Quick regularly holds marathon week long events where expert game “speed-runners” demonstrate how quickly they can beat games, while discussing the techniques. Viewers donate money to the stream, which goes to organizations like Doctors Without Borders, Prevent Cancer Foundation, and Organizations for Autism Research. Since 2010 they have raised millions of dollars.

There are people who play games professionally as competitors. There are games where people compete individually and others where people compete on a team. Some of these people are sponsored by companies or are paid a salary by their team. Big gaming tournaments can have millions of dollars in their prize pool. And then there are the people who make the actual video games. Some of these work on programming the games themselves, but there are plenty of people who work on games in other capacities, such as those in charge of creating the art for the game, or those who write and record the music. Or you could write the stories the games tell, or the novels that accompany some games.

My love of video games has even helped my career as a youth services librarian immensely. I am a member of team of librarians who put annual Smash Brothers and Mario Kart tournaments, as well as regular video game free play events.

There are many ways to make a career in the video games industry. You can learn about many of these jobs, and even begin developing skills you could use in such careers at your local library branch. We have books about the history of video games, specific video games, computer programming, creating art for video games, and much more. If you are really passionate about a career in the video games industry, in whatever role is most appealing to you, why not start learning about it now! Here are some examples of books you could check out at Austin Public Library: