When I used to be at college, I was asked by my careers teacher what I wanted to try to once I grew up, and that I answered without hesitation, “make video games”. It was a no brainer. I had been curious about Unity Game Development, for as long as I could remember. A number of my earliest memories are of playing Qbert and Scramble within the local arcade, or sitting on the ground of our front room, with a Commodore Vic 20 plugged into the old wood-effect paneled television.
At school I chose IT as a GCSE option and aced it, at school, I took computing and quickly realized that I knew more about the topic than my tutor, then went on to review computing and electronic engineering at university. However, as I progressed through my education, my love of the topic waned, as I found myself being taught more and more about managerial roles and workflow than about what I actually loved – Unity Game Development.
In fact, I dropped my computing degree after the primary year, later graduating in audio and video engineering, and it wasn’t until several years later that I got involved in the games industry. While several of my friends had gone on to figure with Unity Game Development companies, I had gone into web design, and it wasn’t until I started developing Flash games that I ultimately found myself doing what I had dreamed about as a toddler.
The strange thing is, I progressed faster within the Unity Game Development than several people I knew who took the more “traditional” route of a university degree. While they were working their high ranks, I drew the eye of massive clients not due to my education, but due to my experience.
More recently, I’ve needed to know two people that came into the industry via yet one more path, and it’s one that simply wasn’t available to me at the time, but I wish it had been.
If a game goes to plug with mistakes, bugs, or bad gameplay, it’ll get bad reviews, bad sales, and lose the studio potentially tons of cash. Therefore it’s within the studio’s interest to take a position in testing to make sure that the games they produce are of the very best quality. This has opened the new job position of “game tester,” which isn’t only a dream job (or certainly would are on behalf of me when leaving college ten years ago!) but also can act as a gateway position to other jobs within the industry.
Game testing is notoriously difficult to urge into, and therefore the reality of the work is certainly tons less glamorous than the title might suggest, with long hours and really repetitive work. However, game testers have an equivalent advantage I had by developing independent games – industry experience! 2 or 3 years as a game tester will teach you tons more about Unity Game Development than the typical college degree, and therefore the games companies know this.
A friend of mine recently asked me whether I might have finished my degree, if I knew then what I do know now and had the prospect at a games testing position instead. Certainly, the sport testing job would have given me more experience and doubtless got me further within the Unity Game Development faster. However, my answer was simply that I might have attempted to try to both – get casual work as a games tester to create an experience, and complete my degree at an equivalent time. With this approach, you get the simplest of both worlds, and massively increase your chances of becoming a successful game developer.