Friday, 24 May 2013

An introduction to the Game Industry

Right. The Games Industry. This young and very quickly developing industry has materialised itself in only the last 30 or so years. From a game art student’s perspective it seems like an exclusive and very secret club that the ‘chosen ones’ have reached and is very far out of bounds for us mere mortals, though we one day hope to become a part of it, when we are ‘worthy’. Not only has the industry evolved, today’s gamer is not under 18 anymore, in fact so many users interact with video games on a daily and weekly basis they must be grouped into well defined demographics. Marketing and Publishing has also taking large interests in this industry because reports show that the global market for video games will grow to $82 billion by 2017. This means the big guys want in, and will do anything to get their hands of a piece of the pie, like THIS! 

(Expansion of games industry)  

Ok but seriously, what does this mean for me? The industry has vast roles across the board but if we break down the Art roles, we still are left with a large list of jobs. It is key to note that many roles have been ‘specialised’ and the days of 5 people in the basement making a game are over, they have been for quite some time. If you are good at characters, you will work on characters. You will not touch any other assets in the game as that job will be acquired by someone else. A past graduate (now character artist) game in to give us a lecture around a month ago talking about next gen character design; whilst he was mentioning 60k tri counts and 4k texture maps (ZOMG) he also did mention that some artist only do retopolgy, and others only work on textures. So roles are becoming VERY specific and if you do for example apply and land a character artist job, you shouldn’t expect to do be working on the whole character from modelling, texturing, and rigging, although ofcourse this is not always the case.
(list of various roles in the games industry)

(transformations of the games industry)

So with this all in mind, how will this affect my portfolio? Is it not better to be a jack of all trades than to specialise in one key role? Let’s be honest. Instead of putting time in to be amazing at everything, if you can focus on one role and get extremely good at that ONE role. No jack of all trades will able to beat you at it because he will be spending more of his time learning or working on other crafts whilst you spend that same amount of time on your chosen role. It is not logical to think that a portfolio with so many different skills can land a specialised role as everything else would simply confuse the employer. That being said, having personal work seems to be a bonus as it shows you are working on other projects and it shows that you enjoy this kind of work outside the working or student hours. 

With the industry growing and skill sets quickly becoming specialised, another action is increasing in the games industry as it has been seen to occur in many other large manufacturing industries, outsourcing. This is simply because abroad is cheaper and as everything is fuelled by financial profit this is a no brainer for developers. This also makes me and my fellow students some of the most expensive artists to employ. Say What?! This means we will have to bring more than a standard skill set to the table when looking for work, our work must impress employers the way our favourite artists work impress and inspire us.

(outsourcing on the increase)

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