Game On!

Video games are a multibillion-dollar industry where few african americans manage to get at the controls. Some insiders are taking aim at this sector's invisible hurdle.

“Computer science isn’t cultivated enough within our community,” says Gatson, who talks with many kids about the industry. “The family unit needs to foster the mindset that is required in order to be a productive contributor in this field. If a parent can see that there are some good careers in the video game industry and encourage that child to be an engineer, then there will be more blacks in this industry.”

BREAKING IN!
Breaking into the video game industry requires a certain amount of talent. But talent alone will not earn you a position making games. Here are some guidelines you should follow to make your path into the field a prosperous one.

Determine your area of interest: There are many career options from which to choose when working in the video game industry. Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association, says it’s smart to first determine what aspect of game development interests you before getting started. If you are technical and like math and science, a position in programming may be right for you. If drawing is your forte and you admire fine arts and painting, perhaps visual arts is the area you may want to try.

Get an education: The industry does not require degrees across the board for all positions. However, as the business grows and changes, it is becoming more institutionalized. Consider attending an art school or a university that offers a curriculum or degree specific to the position that you want to pursue. Also, research internships with various game development studios. While internship programs are difficult to find, a handful of the bigger companies like EA (Electronic Arts) do offer these opportunities.

Study the industry: Staying plugged in to what’s going on in the field is important to your success. Read industry-related books and magazines such as Ernest Adam’s Break Into the Game Industry: How to Get a Job Making Videogames (McGraw-Hill Osborne Media; $24.99), Game Developer Magazine, Electronic Gaming Monthly, and PC Gamer. Also, view gaming Websites such as www.AAgamer.com and www.gamasutra.com.

Attend gaming conferences: Game conferences are an opportunity to network with people in the industry and learn more about your craft. Consider attending the annual Game Developers Conference, E3 Conference & Expo, COMICON, and any smaller seminars or symposiums geared toward educating the public about the video game industry.

Join an association: The International Game Developers Association (www.igda.org) is a great resource for newcomers. This association offers tips on how to break into the video game industry; information about particular career paths in the business; and networking opportunities through online articles, reports, local events, and forums.

Play: If you want to be in gaming, you have to play games. Playing gives you insight into what the public likes, as well as how characters look, sound, and move.

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