September 25, 2018

Alternative Careers for Game Development Majors

The gaming industry continues to grow, but there are still more game developers than game development jobs. So, it’s a good thing that game developers have tons of transferable skills in programming, UX design, graphic design, project management and more. We wanted to learn how game dev majors forged successful career paths in other industries, so we invited a software engineer, 3D artist, frontend developer and UX designer to campus to share their career stories.

WebPT Software Engineer Jasmine Hegman thinks her game design degree gave her a leg up. “If anything, I think games are a little more difficult because they often have a run loop and all these other things that other developers don’t have to worry about,” she said. “Programming at the end of the day, whether it’s for a game or not, works equally,” she added.

UX Designer Nick Reed and 3D Visual Artist Michael Licavoli encouraged all design and art majors to master programming and Photoshop while they are still in school. Nick noted that a lot of students choose game design because they want to become the “idea guy.” “Unfortunately, the idea guy doesn’t get hired. As [Professor Hue Henry] used to say, ‘That’s usually one of the developer’s kids,’” Nick said. Adding strong coding and digital art chops to your skillset will make you more marketable.

Michael mastered AutoCAD out of necessity and encouraged game art students to pick it up too. “It’s really not scary at all. It’s like the base of 3D,” he said. A lot of industries need CAD developers, including architecture, aerospace, manufacturing, mapping, transportation, interior design, facilities management, education, engineering and more. Excel also makes Michael’s life easier.

Everyone agreed that communication is key. When Nick interviews UX designers, programmers and graphic designers, he always asks how candidates did what they’ve done. “You can show me a portfolio piece, but be prepared to talk about it,” he said. Practice explaining your thought process, how you reached certain conclusions and how you research.” Jasmine added, “If you have to Google something, that’s OK.”

All four panelists landed at least one job from a referral. In order to build a large, engaged network, you have to talk to people. Each of them has also worked with at least one recruiter, so remember to be kind to recruiters.

In summary, if you can make games, then you can develop mobile apps, design user interfaces and create graphics. Diversify your skillset, and get out there and talk to people.

UAT alumni can audit classes for free for life. Check out our catalog to learn more about programming, digital asset creation and other classes at UAT here.

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