Gaming & Entertainment

Whether it’s seeing the latest Marvel blockbuster on the big screen, playing Xbox games with your mates, diving into esports or YouTube videos, or playing an app-based game on your phone, the gaming and entertainment industry is big news!

In an increasingly digital world, the gaming and entertainment industry has been growing at a rapid rate – and it’s one of the few industries that has shown little sign of slowing down.

In the United States, the gaming and entertainment market was worth an estimated $678 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow to over $720 billion. Gaming is one of the largest industries in the world of entertainment and is worth over $145 billion globally. This continues to grow year after year!

With growth like that, it’s essential to know that the industry encompasses more than watching movies or playing games.

Some core subsectors that are growing include:

  • Mobile App Gaming
  • eSports Gaming & Promotion
  • Advertising & Public Relations
  • Virtual Reality Gaming
  • Entertainment & Gaming Legal Services
  • Online video services, like YouTube
  • Social Media Development
  • Educational Gaming
  • Adult Gaming & Gambling

As we spend more time than ever engaged with devices, the gaming and entertainment industry has benefitted. In the last decade alone, we’ve had the rise of:

  • Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok.
  • Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+
  • Online gaming like Twitch, Steam, and Smashcast.
  • Advertising revenue and sponsorship packages.

You might not immediately think of these things when you think of this industry, but they’re vast components of it.

Within each of these segments also sits a broad range of professional roles that help to support and promote it. From administration to marketing, accounts to client services – there’s plenty of ways to get involved.

Entry into the sector is as varied as the roles available, so no matter what academic pathway you choose to pursue, there’ll be an opportunity to get started with a career in the gaming and entertainment industry!

What You Could Do

Job roles in the gaming and entertainment industry are varied, and people may hold qualifications and skills in more than one specific area.

Here’s a look at some of the top jobs you could pursue:

  • Games Tester: As fun as it may sound, games testers have a core focus on quality assurance. They’re the final step before a game goes to the mass market, so they play a vital role in ensuring all aspects of any game works smoothly. Game testers work their way around the game to ensure it functions correctly and that game instructions and documentation are clear. They look for glitches and bugs in the system and report their findings to the designers and developers.
  • Software Programmer: Software developers identify, design, install and test a software system they have built for a company from the ground up. They might create internal programs to help businesses be more efficient or produce software (like games) that can be sold. Software developers also help maintain and update the program to ensure that all security problems are fixed and operate with new databases.
  • Animator: Animators design and draw visual effects and animations for film and tv, video games, and websites. They may use hand-drawn graphics, computer-generated imagery, or model animation. Animators may be involved from initial concepts and storyboards through to building models or post-production editing. They tend to work as part of a larger team, so good communication skills and teamwork are vital.
  • Multimedia Developer: Multimedia developers combine video, graphics, sound, and software to create a complete finished interactive product, such as a game, website, or web portal. Multimedia developers discuss what clients need the product to do and then make suggestions around design ideas. They are involved in projects from the initial design stage, prototype creation, and testing to post-delivery.
  • Games Developer: Game developers work on teams to plan, design, and produce video games for computers, mobile devices, or game consoles. Their work involves creating visual content for the game and writing code to implement its features and functionality. While many work full-time hours in game studios or at software companies, opportunities exist for game developers who prefer to work remotely or to self-publish their games online as independent developers. Some also work within cyber-security and in other areas of the industry, including educational games development or gambling games development.

These job roles are only just scratching the surface.

Each industry segment will also include administrative or managerial functions that support the sector in significant ways

Graduate Employment and Gender Split

Although a degree is not always essential for every career pathway into creative media and arts, it’s worth knowing what graduate employment looks like to help set your expectations and make further decisions.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers tracks graduate employment across different industry sectors.

Here’s a look at recent outcomes data for graduates in related degree programs:

  • Computer and Information Sciences Graduates in full-time employment: 71.4.1%
  • Computer and Information Sciences Graduates employed overall: 78.4%
  • Multi-Disciplinary Studies (inc. advertising) Graduates in full-time employment: 82.8%
  • Multi-Disciplinary Studies (inc. advertising) Graduates in full-time employment: 47.1%

Keeping in mind this doesn’t account for graduates who freelance or may have continued to higher studies; these are promising percentages!

Gender Split

The gender split across the industry depends on the segment of the sector you work within.

Reports indicate that the average split is fairly even:

  • Males: 51%
  • Females: 49%

Although there is a good split of males and females in entry roles, further reports have found that women make up less than 30% of positions in senior or C-suite roles.

Average Salary

Current surveys in the sector indicate the median salaries for full-time creative roles as:

  • Entry-level Games Developer Roles: $53,500-$57,200
  • Senior Games Developer Roles: $106,200-$127,000
  • Entry-level Animator Roles: $55,700-$77,500
  • Senior Animator Roles: $86,600-$105,000
  • Digital Producer Roles: $76,000-$91,500
  • Software Developer Roles: $87,500-$107,500

Salaries can be pretty varied and determined by several factors, including:

  • The segment of the industry you work within.
  • Your job title and seniority.
  • The amount of experience you have.
  • Whether you freelance or are employed directly.
  • Where you work, for example, not-for-profit organizations tend to have lower salaries than for-profit or larger organizations.
  • Your location, for example, companies in large cities tend to pay more than those in rural areas.

Industry Growth

The U.S. gaming and entertainment industry is known to be the largest in the world.

According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the U.S. video game industry alone directly generated economic output of $40.9 billion in 2019 and provided direct employment to 143,045 people. Further reports indicate that this is not expected to slow down any time soon.

According to the National Endowment for the Arts, workers in this industry are highly entrepreneurial. They are 3.6 times more likely than the total U.S. workforce to be self-employed. Around 60% of workers in the industry are employed in the private, for-profit sector – demonstrating there is still significant demand for more traditional career pathways within the industry.

Overall, with the expansion of increased digital services and more demand for digital everything, the industry is expected to grow in the coming decades. The gaming and entertainment industry also has positive spillover effects for other U.S. industries, fueling innovation in computation, graphics rendering, interface design, haptics, mobile systems design, networking, and software engineering.

Some in-demand roles across the industry are expected to include animators, coders, software developers, and advertising professionals.

Traditional ways of working are merging with emerging technologies, so anyone pursuing a career across the sector will need to have a robust set of technical skills alongside creative ideas.

Qualifications and entry-pathways

Entry pathways are varied and will depend heavily on the type of roles you want to get into.

For example, highly specialized and professional roles will typically require at least a bachelor’s degree, along with some postgraduate qualifications plus experience.

The degree major you choose will also depend on the segment of the industry you’re specifically interested in; some programs to look at include:

  • Mass Communications
  • Multimedia Design
  • Programming and Software Development
  • Graphic Design and Illustration
  • Animation
  • Games Design and Development

Entry pathways are varied and will depend heavily on the type of roles you want to get into.

There are multiple ways to kick-start your career in this industry, and not all of them involve pursuing a degree.

Other pathway options might include:

  • Scoring an apprenticeship or traineeship: You can work to gain industry-specific qualifications alongside your certificate of education and work experience through an apprenticeship in the industry.
  • Work experience once you leave school: You can apply for work experience and school-leaver programs in entry-level positions and work your way up over time. Many organizations will also support you to gain further professional qualifications. You’ll need a robust skill set and good grades in Maths and English as a minimum.

Requirements will depend on the type of role you want and the company – so make sure you research.

Whether you pursue a degree or not, experience is always vital for this industry – and many others – be sure to seek out opportunities to gain work experience as you grow your career.

Whatever your circumstances, grades, or preferred way forward – there’s a qualification pathway that will work for you.

Best Places To Study

Where you choose to study will be dependent on a range of factors, but some top institutions to study creative media and arts include:

  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • New York University
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Miami
  • University of Wisconsin
  • Florida State University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Stanford University
  • The University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
  • Harvard University
  • Princeton University

Where To Learn More

You can learn more about different creative media and arts industry segments through professional bodies and organizations that advocate for careers in the sector.

Some good places to start include:

And many more!

Each state will also have several professional organizations to help you learn more about the industry, network, and develop your career