5 Tech Careers for Gamers
By The Fullstack Academy Team
Video games are more than just a hobby; they have evolved into an estimated $334 billion industry ripe with opportunities for professionals with a passion for gaming and tech skills.
Since the creation of the first video game in 1958, tech professionals have played a pivotal role in developing and supporting the industry and its products. They are the architects behind beautiful graphics, the wizards behind character movement through code, the drivers behind product updates and patches, and so much more. Their work has led to popular series and titles like Fortnite, the Super Mario Bros, Halo, Undertale, Minecraft, Uncharted, Call of Duty, and Night in the Woods, as well as the creation and expansion of the electronic sports (Esports) industry, virtual reality, and mobile gaming. Their contributions and influence underpin the very essence of modern gaming and will continue to impact emerging video games, systems, and delivery methods into the future.
If you’re a gamer looking to transform your pastime into a profession, there are exciting opportunities in this industry if you have or are willing to gain tech skills. Tech education options, such as bootcamps and online courses, make rapidly attaining essential skills for a video game industry career more achievable. Here are just some of the many rewarding video game jobs you can pursue with tech skills.
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1. Video Game Programmer
In video game programming, and in the tech industry in general, it is often more important to have skills and experience versus a formal education, and there are many online resources to help individuals learn to code, including tech bootcamps and free courses. The average annual salary for a video game programmer in the United States is $113,255, according to ZipRecruiter (2023). Video game programming can be an attractive career option due to its average salary, technical nature, skill-based hiring practices, and remote opportunities.
2. Game Analytics Engineer
A game analytics engineer combines the power of data analytics with development and operations (DevOps) to enhance player experiences, refine game design, and help a company or studio make informed, data-driven decisions. The primary responsibility of game analytics engineers is constructing and maintaining the systems that collect and store game data. Depending on the company, a game analytics engineer may also manage other tasks and processes including:
- Data Collection: In addition to designing and implementing data collection systems, they also monitor player actions, interactions, and in-game purchases. After storing and cleaning the data, the game analytics engineer analyzes it.
- Game Balancing: Data analytics engineers analyze information to help gameplay remain fair and enjoyable. For example, they may balance out character stats, equipment, or resources like in-game currency, energy, or mana. They may also implement difficulty curves or adjust player progression and game pacing.
- A/B Testing: Game analytics engineers set up and manage A/B tests to experiment with different game features, user interfaces, or monetization strategies. This helps in identifying which changes lead to better player retention, engagement, or monetization.
Some companies may use data analyst as an alternative job title for professionals who use these skills. Comparably reported that game analytics engineer salaries in the U.S. tend to range from $56,000 to $84,000, with $70,000 being the median in 2023.
3. Cloud Gaming Engineer
A cloud gaming engineer is a professional who develops and maintains cloud-based gaming platforms and services. In the video game industry, cloud computing is a vital part of delivering products and services to players, as well as enhancing gameplay experiences. Streaming, online multiplayer, saving games, and updating products in real-time can all be done without requiring local hardware from players because cloud computing allows companies and individuals to access and use resources remotely. Cloud gaming engineers may also focus on:
- Content Delivery: Cloud computing engineers use content delivery networks (CDNs) to distribute game assets, updates, and patches to players worldwide efficiently.
- Network Optimization: Cloud gaming engineers optimize networks to ensure low-latency, high-speed data transmission that minimizes lag between devices and cloud servers, providing a smooth experience for multiplayer and single-player games alike.
- Streaming Technology Enhancement: Improving streaming protocols, codecs, and video compression techniques to provide high-quality gameplay are also important to cloud gaming engineers.
Proficiency in platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon Lumberyard, or Microsoft Azure is essential for cloud computing engineers, along with an understanding of coding and knowledge of services like virtual machines, containers, and serverless networking.
While many cloud gaming engineers possess a bachelor's or master's degree in computer science, computer engineering, or related areas, practical experience, certifications, and self-learning are also valued in this rapidly evolving field. The average salary in the U.S. for cloud gaming engineers is $100,581 (Salary.com; 2023). However, industry-recognized certifications may also help to increase their salary. Some online cloud computing bootcamps, like the one offered by Fullstack Academy, offer certification exam preparation as part of the program to help graduates reach higher salaries.
4. Game AI Programmer
Artificial intelligence (AI) can assist in certain aspects of game development, but it alone does not have the ability to duplicate the skills and expertise of humans developing the product. Rather than becoming obsolete as AI technologies gain popularity, programmers and IT professionals will collaborate with AI technologies to harness their capabilities.
Game AI programmers create systems and algorithms that dictate how non-player characters (NPCs) and entities act in video games. By programming behaviors, decision-making, and interactions in-game and using specially crafted algorithms to help systems learn how to respond, act, and customize its behavior for the player, these professionals are creating a more realistic and immersive gameplay experience. Some key skills employers seeking Game AI programmers are looking for include coding, scripting, debugging, and familiarity with AI algorithms as well as experience with machine and deep learning techniques for advanced behaviors.
In the U.S., the median salary for game AI engineers is $135,000, according to Comparably. Gaining these skills and specializing in this area can lead to a lucrative future in the video game industry as AI continues to become more popular.
5. Cybersecurity Analyst
Players are drawn to video games for various reasons. Some for the graphics, some for the storylines, and still others for the mechanics. Players who are curious about how systems work, enjoy problem-solving, or like fighting challenging battles may find a future as a cybersecurity analyst appealing.
In recent years, companies like Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts (EA), Epic Games, Naughty Dog, Ubisoft, Nintendo, and more have been the targets of cyberattacks. A security analyst is the protector of the digital realm in charge of combating cybersecurity threats, defending players’ privacy, and protecting companies from cyberattacks. As part of their work, they identify security vulnerabilities in games and develop mitigations to minimize the likelihood and severity of security breaches. Cyber security analysts also educate players and team members on cybersecurity best practices.
To become a cybersecurity analyst, professionals should have knowledge of common security threats and attack vectors, such as DDoS attacks, SQL injection, and social engineering. They should have skills in:
Programming and Scripting
Legal and Ethical Hacking
An awareness of gamer culture and an understanding of how cheats and hackers can impact the gaming experience and community is also crucial for a security analyst working in the industry. Having a thorough understanding of these areas allows a cybersecurity analyst to better identify vulnerabilities and address the concerns of companies and players.
According to Lightcast ™, cybersecurity analysts in the U.S. make an average of $102,606 a year. Much like in the cloud computing industry, possessing certifications, such as CompTIA Security+, can lead to higher salaries for professionals in this field, and some cybersecurity bootcamps offer exam preparation as part of their program.
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How To Learn Tech Skills For a Career in Gaming
There are many ways to gain the skills needed to join the video game industry, including self-paced courses, college programs, tech bootcamps, independent exploration using online resources, and getting involved with community organizations focused on tech fields. For those looking to acquire skills rapidly and enter the field sooner than in traditional degree programs, in-person or online tech bootcamps may be right for you. Bootcamps offer a variety of formats, support, and benefits for learners. Fullstack Academy tech bootcamps feature live online instruction using hands-on, skill-focused curricula that incorporate portfolio development, certification prep, and career support to give learners a well-rounded education and a competitive edge in their job search. Find your program today!