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As video games become more complex, the opportunities their production and design hold for college graduates are endless. Currently, the field of game development employs nearly 35,000 people, and that number is only expected to rise. With industry revenue topping $10 billion each year, it is no wonder that more students are flocking to development roles than ever before (Liming & Vilorio, 2011). This growing trend has been matched by universities; many colleges now offer a game development degree (B.S.). The DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, Washington) has partnered with South Korea in offering undergraduate degrees in real-time interactive simulation, engineering and sound design, digital art and animation, music and sound design, computer science, and other sub-fields. Boise State, USC Los Angeles, and the University of Utah are other schools where similar degrees are awarded.
The life-cycle of a video game is precisely what opens the door for a variety of career options in the development industry. In the pre-production phase, lead designers and developers collaborate in producing a game design document, which describes the features and details of the game. In the production phase, artists and designers work together to create textures, models and animations for the central characters, along with “levels, objects, and environments that will populate the game world” (Liming & Vilorio, 2011). In the postproduction process, the game is played and tested for bugs (or errors) that may present themselves. Typically, programmers run the postproduction phase, as they can immediately tweak the game for any errors.
In these processes, the gamut for video game contributors is run. This includes programmers, design experts, artists, sound engineers, and writers. Designers are most commonly thought as the “dreamers of the video game”. They are called that because they envision the plot, characters, and gameplay. They then work in conjunction with programmers and artists to see that their designs are followed. Designers often use scripting languages, which are less technical to learn than programming languages, and can test their scripts in gameplay. While designers are important, perhaps the barebones of the game, written by the developers, are arguably one of the most vital roles in the development process. Coders run through multiple programming languages to adapt the game in accordance with the designers’ specifications. They also ensure that each level, character, and play can be tested flawlessly, so that the user at home does not encounter any bugs. However, there are still artists that counter that they essentially “breathe life” into the program. Artists employ a wide range of aesthetics to achieve their goal, while creating environments, characters, and objects. This can be done through freehand drawing or even sculpting. Without the artists and graphic designers, the beauty of the game could not be realized (Liming & Vilorio, 2011).
PCS encourages students of all ages to explore their gaming talent, as anyone has the potential to be a future game developer. Currently, PCS has two new EdventuresLab afterschool Enrichment Programs in the works, exploring Unreal Engine and Blender, two open-source development kinds of software. With the ongoing arrival of unique tools available to gamers and future developers alike, PCS stays ahead of these trends by ensuring that all students have access to these new and exciting STEM products!
Liming, D., & Vilorio, D. (2011). Work for play: Careers in video game development. Occupational Outlook Quarte (Liming & Vilorio, 2011)
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