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Things you need to know about the video game industry

Rating: 5 votes, 4.40 average.
So I spent 7 years of my life killing myself in the video game industry and these are a collection of observations that I have had or conversations I have had with others.

1. (TESTER) It will be fun I will get to play video games all day!

This is one of the biggest misconceptions people have about testing. They think that testing is playing the game and looking for "bugs", this I am sorry to say is bullshit. Testing is not playing the game testing is doing the same 5 or 10 things over again to see if there are any issues with the mechanics or text. The ultimate goal of a tester is to break the shit out of the game not play it. Grant it that the more you test the game the more you are actually playing it but there is little to no enjoyment here (unless it's a play test and you get to beat the crap out of some developer that drives you mad). Testers are often the underpaid and under appreciated member of any game company. In many cases testers are on contract work getting paid $8-10 an hour and working 60+ hours with no benefits. Testers are also typically the biggest consumers of coffee and cigarettes in a game company. Grant it there are exceptions to the rule and a few studios hire testers as full employees but these are not often seen. I personally did testing for 3 1/2 years and in my opinion it was a good learning experience but I wouldn't do it again.

2. (Game Design) I Will get to be creative and help design a great game!

Really? Have you seen the shit that's out there today?? Very rarely do producers and senior staff listen to anyone under their pay grade. Unless you have a ground breaking idea that can translate in to big bucks they mostly are going to ignore you, or take the idea and give them self credit for it. Now some studios encourage the idea of free expression and creative thinking but when you look at the big studios 90% of the time they are just interested in putting out a game that makes money. Typically when you are on a project you are given tools and a design outline. Then told to follow the outline without going outside the parameters given to you, and this leads to the stifling of one's creativity.

3. (Artist) I went to art school or I am a really good artist I can work in the video game industry!

This is rarely the case . The actual chance of you getting a job as an artist in the industry on your own is very difficult. Many artists end up in CS or QA since the art positions in a studio scarce and quite hard to get without a few years of experience on a major project under your belt. I have seen many artists go in to graphic design first to build a bit of experience and to refine their portfolio before attempting to get in to a game company as an artist ( plus the pay is way better in graphic design than in CS or QA).

4. I want to work at XYZ company for the rest of my life!

What I have seen in my years in the industry, most people do not stay at a company long. When I was at EA we thought someone who worked at the studio for 5+ years was pretty impressive. I estimate that the average lifespan of any employee at a game company is 3 years excluding upper management and owners of course. In the MMO world it seems to be even less. During my time at Cryptic studios the average lifespan was 1-2 yrs, grant it that Atari's ownership had a lot to do with it. Even prior to Atari's involvement I saw maybe 30 out of 200 employees had been with the company for more than 3 years. So longevity in the game industry is not a strong point.

5. (Programmers) I am a good programmer and I have good ideas.

If you are not an arrogant asshole you will be soon. I have met so many programmers in the video game industry with inflated egos and a case of the I KNOW MORE THAN YOU SO EAT MY DICK attitude. This is not true for all programmers just the ones who are prolific web trolls and do nothing but write code day and night. They can be nice people, when they are not on a deadline or writing code, but that rarely happens. I notice in my years of writing code I become more dickish since it's not an easy job, one interruption could send your thought process back an hour or two. With all things aside I would say a programmer has the second most stressful job at a game company other than a tester.

Now to end this rant and hopefully you got a chuckle or you think I am just a cynical asshole. Well you are right I am, but that's neither here nor there. Just keep this in mind when thinking about working in the video game industry "It is not as fun as you think is it".

PS. Rainbow puking unicorn farting hamburgers with 2 hookers.........and I am done.

Updated 02-27-2012 at 09:30 AM by Tenelen



  1. Elidroth's Avatar
    This is incredibly accurate.
  2. Tenelen's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Elidroth
    This is incredibly accurate.
    Well I hope so EA, Sony, and Cryptic studios all shattered my soul. Thus is why I left the industry!