The pay scale for each position varies depending on your level of experience. But according to a 2003 salary survey conducted by Game Developer Magazine, programmers, who are responsible for writing the complicated code that drives the games, earn anywhere from $58,000 to $110,000 per year. Producers, who lead and manage the creative teams behind the games, make between $44,000 and $122,000 annually. Artists bring in anywhere from $40,000 to $75,000. Designers, the people credited for the game’s fun factor, gross $41,000 to $92,000 each year. Audio personnel make between $45,000 and $77,000. And QAs, or game testers, take home anywhere from $32,000 to $56,000 yearly.
But these positions require the skills and education necessary to secure jobs in the field. Although not entirely institutionalized, certain positions, such as programming, do require a specific level of education. To that end, Bradford plans to begin speaking with educators in California and members of the International Game Developers Association about how to develop a curriculum using commercial games already on the market to inspire African American kids in math and science.
“Most people don’t know what games are. They don’t know that beneath the color is nothing but polygons, which is nothing but geometry, which below that is linear algebra. A video game is really math, science, and literature. So the things that kids are learning or need to learn in school is the beginning of getting them to the point of making games. We just have to show it to them,” Bradford says.
Over the next few pages, we’ll introduce you to a few individuals who’ve already entered the West Coast-based industry with great success. They are ambitious, interesting, and without question, on top of their game.
FELICE STANDIFER, PRODUCER, SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT AMERICA Felice Standifer sits at the controls of a PlayStation 2 console. On the monitor, a highly detailed all-terrain vehicle blazes a trail through snow and ice, rounding corners and spinning out on a muddy patch. On the screen is ATV Offroad Fury 3, the newest release from the top selling racing game franchise Standifer produces for Sony Computer Entertainment America.
As a producer, Standifer, 36, oversees the development of various titles and is the keeper of the budget and production schedule for all works in progress. Standifer manages a team of 15 to 30 programmers, artists, designers, audio, and production staff to ensure that each game is delivered as envisioned, on time, and on budget.
Standifer started her ascent in the industry as an administrative assistant at Sony in 1993. At that time, PlayStation was an idea yet to be born and the company, known then as Sony Image Soft, was making video games for Nintendo and Sega. Fresh out of the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in Social Science with an emphasis in communications, Standifer worked closely with the then-director of product development. In 1995, Standifer was promoted to department administrator. It didn’t take long for Standifer to be elevated to assistant producer. In 2001, She completed ATV