Thursday, 23 May 2013

An Introduction to the Game Industry: from Generalist to Specialist

Game creation has certainly come a long way since the days of ‘bedroom programming’. As the industry grew into a multimillion dollar industry; and technology and demands grew for gaming, specialised roles have naturally come into play particularly for larger scale titles and companies.
Pac-Man was a 9 man team job!
A single person generally isn’t able to fully manage all areas of the game. As things become larger in scale, so too must the staff and specialisation working on the titles.

A games Designer is a role that envisions the world and creates the rules of the games. Games Designers need a varied mix of skills such as design, management, scheduling, research, etc.
For larger scale games, more than one Game Designer may be needed to overlook the projects. Learning to collaborate and communicate will be required to ensure a smooth process.
Here are some of the job titles that exist within this area:

Leader Designer
Games Designer
Script Writer
Map Builder
Level Editor
Object Planner
GUI Designer
Storyboard Artist
Graphic Designer

As games become more and more graphically advanced and artistically demanding, artists and animators are employed to focus on the visuals of the games. There are many kinds of specialised art areas that take on specific roles such as a concept artist, environmental artist, vehicle artists, etc. To have a specialised roles and someone to communicate and steer the roles into the right direction (such as an Art Lead or an Art Director), the game visuals start to come together to form a larger, visually stunning and believable picture. Specialised areas of the art side include:
The renowned artist Feng Zhu

Creative Manager
Art Director
Lead Artist
Concept Artist
Environment Artist
Vehicle Artist
Character Artist
Technical Artist
3D Modeller

Programmers are the ones responsible to actually make the game play and work. Just like the other areas of the industry, programmers have varied specialised roles with a Lead Programmer to overlook and guide all other areas.
 Here are some of the specialised roles that can be found in the programming area:

Lead Programming
Software Engineer
A.I Programmer
Middleware/Tools Programmer
Graphics Programmer
Gameplay Programmer
Action Scripter
Platform Designer
Information Architect
Systems Analyst
Database Designer
Engine Programmer
Server Architect

The veteran composer for Final Fantasy, Nobuo Uematsu
Audio in games is one of the smaller specialised areas in the industry. Generally this area can get a little chaotic with many types of composers. In one instance, the game Super Smash Bros Brawl on the Wii had one of the most music composers in one game with 36 veteran composers, with the Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu for the main theme. Music ended up being rather inconsistent in my opinion but wasn’t particularly a bad thing however as there were many different types of genres within the game.
Here are some of the specialised roles you may find within this particular area:

Sound Effects Designer
Audio Engineer

Quality Assurance (or Games Testing) is and area that many first come to as their first point of entry to the gaming industry. It’s a highly important area in which the Testers must find and iron out bugs and faults of games and document them.
Here are the roles that could be included within this area:
QA Manager
Quality Assurance Technician/Tester
Lead Tester
Localisation Tester
Localisation Manager

Daisuke Ishiwatari Started off his career as a Games Tester and worked his way up to Games Deigner, Composer, Voice Actor, Lead Artist and more. Kinda seems like a Specialist to Generalist here!

As the industry continues to become larger and to invent new ways in which to take the industry forward, I’m sure that there will be many more specialised job areas spawning for the days to come.

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