From more traditional console and PC games to the explosion of mobile, tablet and online gaming, it is estimated that more than 2.5 billion of us play video games worldwide. That popularity looks set to continue: the global gaming sector is expected to be worth more than $180 billion by 2021. We spoke to industry experts about how game development courses in the new BSc Computer Science can open up new worlds of job opportunities.
“The nature of the industry is that it’s an agile environment and tasks can change from day to day, so you need to be a problem solver.”
The BSc in Computer Science, launched by the University of London and member institution Goldsmiths, is designed with the careers of the future in mind. One area of focus on offer is game development, a sector with global demand for talent.
“You’re working with really interesting, creative people and learning all the time – launching a game is obviously a massive high.”
Mike Allender has worked in the games industry for more than 15 years, moving from roles at UK-based companies Jagex and King to work in Spain and India. He has set up his own product strategy and design consultancy working with three separate games studios in London.
“Everyone has their own journey into the games sector. I started at the bottom – in the Jagex customer support team – and worked my way up. It’s a great environment, you’re working with really interesting, creative people and learning all the time,” Allender says. “Launching a game is obviously a massive high but for me, the best part is when you and your team all bond together and knuckle down to achieve a common goal. At the end of the week, you have something tangible to show for it and it’s a brilliant feeling to own the product you’ve created together.”
It is estimated that there are more than 220,000 jobs in the U.S. games market alone, and more than 47,000 in the United Kingdom. From producers to designers to data analysts, the roles are varied and opportunities continue to grow.
As well as designers and producers there’s a big demand for data analysts and scientists – especially in mobile gaming.
Georgina Felce is the Studio Operations Manager at Big Pixel Studios, which grew from just five employees to more than 20 in less than a year.
“As well as designers and producers there’s a big demand in the sector right now for data analysts and scientists – especially in mobile gaming. A lot of games have been operating without analysing performance and now they want to understand their data to monetise it. That’s a specialty that’s growing in the industry now.”
Lorchan Trapp is a 3D environment artist at Big Pixel. He predicts a trend for more mobile and home virtual reality games: “Working on virtual reality is amazing because you can build a world and then climb into it and see it from a first-person perspective. As an industry, gaming is exciting because it’s always developing. In six months’ time there’s going to be new things to lear. Your career will never be stagnant.”
In six months’ time there’s going to be new things to learn, new tech. Your career will never be stagnant.
The BSc Computer Science (Games Development) degree programme includes a number of project-based assignments, allowing students to develop a portfolio they can demonstrate to future employers.
Mike Allender explained the key skills and attributes he looks for when hiring: “A degree gives you an important grounding in areas like coding and maths. But I’d also advise you play as many games as you possibly can and work out what really interests you. University is a great place to be exposed to lots of different areas but the people who really succeed are those who specialise. You need to discover what role you want and become world class at it.”
Find out more about the BSc Computer Science degrees.