Turn a Game Design Interest Into These Unique Careers

iD Tech in action

You’ve probably heard about the plethora of opportunities available in the game development industry; the current value of the video game market for 2017 is roughly $18.4 billion dollars, and is set to reach $20 billion by 2020.

But what if your child isn’t a programmer or particularly interested in level design, yet they still love to play games? How can you help them turn this love into a career? Here’s a look at two surprising paths into the world of professional game design.

Path #1: eSports

In a nutshell, eSports are organized, multiplayer, team-based competitions utilizing games like League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. They have strategies, coaches, trophies, and prize money, just like more traditional sports. (Check out our articles on eSports facts and girls in eSports for more information.)

The eSports industry has exploded in the past three years, with Business Insider saying it’ll more than double in value from $750 million this year to $2 billion in 2018. eSports are so popular now that big-name universities are offering scholarships to skilled players.

In 2014, Robert Morris University in Illinois became the first school to offer a scholarship to students playing on their League of Legends team. In just three years, there are now 34 varsity eSports programs at colleges across the nation, with schools like Columbia College, UC Irvine, and the University of Utah offering scholarships.

Take a minute to let that sink in: real colleges are offering real dollars to students who excel at playing video games to attend their school, and the number of schools doing so is growing.

What eSports Can Do For Your Child

eSports can set your child up with a college degree or a career in more fields than you might think.

Because more and more universities are recognizing the legitimacy of eSports as athletic programs, the money available for scholarships is likely to increase. This means your child can qualify for anything from Robert Morris’ program, which covers 50% of tuition, room, and board, to the University of Utah’s program, which soon hopes to offer full scholarships to 35 gamers each year.

eSports has proven to be an exciting, lucrative career for the 9,000 professional gamers who compete for prize pools sometimes worth millions of dollars. Huge companies like Coca-Cola, YouTube, and Microsoft are involved with eSports in a variety of ways, from advertising to sponsorships to hosting tournaments.

Can’t picture your child gaming for eight hours a day? Never fear, there are other career paths involved with eSports, from coaching and refereeing to marketing and event management. After all, those giant tournaments don’t come together on their own.

Do you have a future competitive gamer you’re not sure what to do with? Check out our elite, two-week Academy course on eSports and Level Design with CS:GO for teens.

Path #2: Game Cinematography

As video games get more and more advanced, they’re beginning to look as visually sophisticated as blockbuster films. This means games are requiring designers with skills traditionally seen only in Hollywood, like cinematographers. Also called Directors of Photography, cinematographers are essentially responsible for all visual aspects of making a movie, including lighting, camera motion, in what angles scenes are shot, and dozens more responsibilities.

However, the fact that a player can alter things in a video game like camera angle and character movement throws a wrench in the traditional definition of cinematography. If the player can change the position of the camera, how is a cinematographer supposed to control it?

Game studios like Ready at Dawn are pushing those boundaries with games like The Order 1886 that blurs the lines between gameplay and cutscenes (narrative breaks in gameplay). The Order 1886 sought to smooth the transition from gameplay to cutscene by being the first to keep similar camera perspectives between the two parts so they could “build something that actually feels so immersive that it reminds you [of] watching a movie.”

Ready at Dawn then took cinematography even further by digitally recreating the flaws inherent in normal cameras. “Lens curvature, chromatic aberration, vignette, and lens dirt are just a few examples,” says Ru Weerasuriya, CEO and Creative Director at Ready at Dawn. Purposefully including these visual imperfections in their game added a level of realism that’s lacking in most other games.

View Our Game Design Camps

What Game Cinematography Can Do For Your Child

Does your gamer notice the stunningly precise placement of lens flare or love the swooping camera angles in their games? Finding their niche in the growing realm of gaming cinematography could be the perfect place for them.

“If the video game industry continues to push towards more cinematic visuals, and more games adopt the philosophy set forth by the creators of The Order 1886, then talented cinematographers might very well become a valuable asset in the game creation process,” says this writer from No Film School.

Time magazine and Artistry in Games agree. The latter says, “[Cinematography in games] means using lighting and effects and everything else to make every single frame of a game look exactly how the developer would want it to look – even when it’s a player controlling things. And ultimately, it means most players not even realizing that any of that is happening.”

What’s next for your child who’s more inclined to visual artistry? Start them in any of our video development courses for ages 10–17, where they’ll get an eye for the dozens of skills it takes to make a film, tutorial, and more (including, you guessed it, cinematography).

A photo of Aurora

Aurora is a perpetually happy girl whose heart belongs to all things gothy and dark, from Evanescence albums to horror movies to Edgar Allan Poe. She graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in English, focused in Creative Writing, and joined iD Tech in 2015.