How Can I Make Money Creating Video Games?

by Dan Chruscinski ; Updated July 27, 2017

Rather than just playing video games, you can take steps to enter the gaming industry and be one of the people who creates video games. Like any career setting, the video game industry offers financial compensation for employees. You can choose from several different aspects of the gaming industry in which to seek employment to be able to get paid for creating video games.

Choose a Focus

Video games are about more than just creating code or designing characters. When you choose to make money creating video games, first decide on what aspect of the game creation world you would like to focus on. Game designers are in charge of building the structure of a game from genre to character abilities. Artists work with computer programs to design characters and the worlds they will inhabit. Programmers are in charge of telling the game consoles and computers how the users will interact with the world. Even if you have no art, design or programming skills you can still focus on other aspects of video games. Writers are brought in to craft stories and dialogue for characters, while voice actors add sound and personality to the written words. More business-minded individuals can work in marketing or public relations to help get the word out about the games that are being made. For a job in the industry, you can expect an average salary of between $50,000 and $95,000 per year depending on your chosen path.

Education

If you want to be hired into the world of video game creation, you need to possess not only the skills to perform in your chosen profession, but also the education to lay the foundation for your job search. Programmers should focus on computer science classes or similar degrees while designers and artists should work towards degrees in art, preferably computer. As of 2011, some colleges offer programs that specifically cater towards careers in the video game industry and can award degrees in video game design or game programming. If you are in high school, read up on the different programming languages and art programs being used by video game creators in your desired field and teach yourself the basics.

Indie Game Creation

You do not need to be part of a game company to enter the world of video game creation and earning potential. For example, Nuclear Monkey Software, the team behind the video game "Portal," started out as an independent team that created a game called "Narbacular Drop." This game was distributed freely and led to the team being purchased by a developer, Valve, and given the opportunity to create "Portal." If you have programming or design knowledge, work on creating your own game or idea for a game. Look for similar people to work with as a team and create your own small-to-no-budget game. You can then enter these games into design contests or use them as a portfolio of your work to enter the video game creation business. Offer your game as an online download for a small price as developer Markus Persson did with his one-man creation, "Minecraft."

Starting Out

While not as high paying as other jobs in the industry, you can get your foot in the door with a position in quality assurance, otherwise known as a game tester. The average salary is around $30,000 for those starting out. As a game tester you are responsible for playing through games before release and noting any bugs or glitches within the software. This can give you an idea of how game design and programming come together and how games are perfected before being shipped to retailers. The general requirement for a game testing job is a high school or college diploma of any kind. Taking this route can make you part of a paying game company while introducing you to other careers in the profession you may want to pursue.

About the Author

Dan Chruscinski has written pieces for both business and entertainment venues. His work has appeared in "Screen Magazine" as well as websites such as Starpulse.com. Chruscinski graduated in 2006 with a degree in English literature from Illinois State University.