Being a gamer often means having the humility to start at level one — and the same goes for your career. If you’re trying to break into the exciting field of game development, you need some experience. Luckily, there are plenty of entry-level jobs that are perfectly suited for beginners.
Not sure which aspect of game development interests you the most? In our free course Introduction to Game Development, you’ll learn about the foundations of the video game development process and the technical tools (like programming languages and game engines) that are used in the industry. You’ll also get an overview of the types of roles that exist in game development and how a team collaborates to create an immersive and beautiful game.
Read on to learn about the entry-level gaming jobs you can get to kickstart your career in game development. Whether your goal is to program the next big role-playing game or design cutting-edge video game graphics, these jobs will help you pick up the skills you need to eventually “level-up.”
An easy way to get in the door at a game company is through the quality assurance (QA) department, explains Marc Mencher, a technical gaming recruiter who works with companies like SEGA, Sony, and Nintendo. Look for jobs titles like QA Tester, Playability Tester, or Playtester.
In these types of roles, you get paid to play video games — seriously. “You’re literally playing the game all day long, just trying to break it and find the problems in it,” Marc explains. Playability Testers typically work with games that are in pre-production and haven’t been released to the public yet, which is a pretty cool perk. In addition to reporting technical flaws like bugs and glitches, Playability Testers are also looking at the overall user experience of playing a video game.
Good to know: If you’re applying for a job as a Playability Tester, you should list the names of the games you have experience playing on your resume, Marc says. Be sure to read the job description carefully and incorporate the specific games that are mentioned into your resume.
Social platforms like Twitch and Discord have made community a key component of the gaming world. Companies are looking for Community Managers who can interact with fan bases on social media, represent studios at events, respond to player feedback, and host live streams. Some similar job titles that you might come across are Community Moderator or Community Developer.
Though Community Managers aren’t necessarily coding or having a hands-on say in the game development process, they get to know the players and game culture on a deeper level — an important asset that will help as you climb the ladder into more senior roles.
Junior or Associate Game Developer
It’s common for game development studios to hire Junior or Associate Developers, which are beginner developers who work alongside more senior team members. (This is also the case for other areas of game development — Concept Artists and Animators might look for folks to join their teams at the Junior or Associate level.) The job title will usually include the programming language right in it, for example, Junior Unity Developer or Junior Java Software Developer.
Depending on the company, they may call people in entry-level technical positions “interns” or “apprentices.” The neat thing about internships and apprenticeships is that they’re a way for people from non-traditional backgrounds to get paid experience working as an engineer, often with the potential to get hired in a full-time position at the end of the program.
Customer Support Specialist
Even hip industries like gaming need customer support staff to address players’ issues or troubleshoot problems. Jobs like Hardware Support Technician, Customer Support Associate, or Support Operator are a lot like IT jobs. In these jobs, you’d be tasked with duties like filing tickets for bugs, repairing hardware, working with the QA team, and triaging complaints.
Customer Support positions are great opportunities to build on your technical knowledge and learn the ins and outs of a game or console. Since you’d be talking to customers and players in these roles, soft skills like communication and emotional intelligence are crucial.
Start your career in game development
Feeling inspired to start browsing jobs in game development? Be sure to check out our free course Introduction to Game Development to get primed on the video game design process — from art and design to game mechanics and UX — and learn about the types of jobs that you can get in the field.
The job board Hitmarker is a good place to look for open game development jobs at any level, says Dylan Lavis, Senior Technical Recruiter at Nxt Level, a recruiting agency for gaming and technology. “It’s got the big players that anyone in gaming knows, like Nintendo and Blizzard, and all the smaller ones that you would never hear of,” Dylan says.
Once you find a role that you want to go for, don’t forget to put together your game development portfolio, make sure your resume is all set for gaming jobs, and brush up on the programming languages you need to know. And remember: You may feel like a newbie now, but you’ll be leveling-up in no time.