Getting into Game Development

Ousmane Mariko Contributing Writer

$65 billion. That’s how large the worldwide gaming industry was as of June 2011. Just nine years ago, the industry was sized at $23.3 billion.

To put in perspective just how far games have come, the latest Call of Duty title, “Modern Warfare 3,” overtook “Avatar” as the fastest $1 billion-grossing entertainment launch of all time. And with explosive growth like that comes an increase in jobs.

Home to no fewer than 40 game companies, the Maryland area is an embarrassment of riches. Montgomery College’s Rockville campus offers a program path for those who would like pursue a career making video games. But how do you get into the industry after studies?

At the Evolution of Video Games panel at the American Art Museum, a few industry experts weighed in on the matter.

Mike Mika, head of development at Other Ocean Interactive believes that the path to making video games lies through QA, better known as Quality Assurance.

“Some of the easiest ways to get into game development is through QA,” Mika said. “And QA is not what people traditionally think it is anymore. [It] actually has a design role, it has a consulting role and it’s not just finding bugs.”

Ken Levine, the creative director and co-founder of Irrational Games agrees with this notion.

“One of the best ways to get a real understanding of game development is to come work in QA at a developer, not at a publisher,” Levine said. “Because you’re interacting with the developers everyday and learning the process.”

Don Daglow, head of Stormfront Studios and creator of Neverwinter Nights has a different approach: find what you love, work hard and don’t give up.

“Typically there’s an intersection between [what you’re good at and your passion]. That’s the sweet spot. And that’s the place to focus on in terms of how you want to pursue your career because that’s the place your skill and your love overlap.”