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Why you should start a video game career in high school

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay | 12 November 2019

Who doesn’t love a good video game session now and again? 

Studies show that over two thirds of the Australian population are avid gamers, comprising 62% of all “working age” adults. The gender split among this interest is also fairly balanced, with 47% of the demographic being female. 

On top of that, our nation’s video game industry is a thriving one, generating over a $4 billion in consumer spending in 2018. This was a 25% industry growth from the previous year, spurring many employment opportunities for those entering the field. 

Aspiring game developers are thus facing the peak of our industry’s success, with plenty of roles to open up in the years to come. However, as a field of creative minds and innovation, you’ve got heavy competition on your plate. It’s always best to kickstart your career early, and if you’re still in high school, you’ve got the advantage.

SkillsTalk dive into the four main reasons why it’s smart to start your video game career in high school.

Why should you start your video game career in high school?

  1. It gives you a head start on your portfolio.
  2. It boosts your chances of getting into uni.
  3. It offers early insight into the industry.
  4. It builds on your network and experience early.

1. It gives you a head start on your portfolio.

As with any creative field, a portfolio is mandatory to secure yourself a job in the video games industry.

Being a compiled history of your accomplishments and credentials, the more you’ve got on display for employers – the greater your chances of getting that role. As such, it’s best to start early; and with more technologies accessible by the year, it’s easier than ever to kick things off in high school. 

Aspiring developers are now spoilt for choice in the free resources available for learning game design. Among these is the widely-popular Unity – a tool used for both 2D and 3D game creation on any platform. Budding designers also opt for GameMaker: Studio, a software that dives into the aesthetics and functions of a making a basic game. 

Don’t want to fly solo? High schoolers now have the option of pursuing VET courses while completing their secondary education - where they can get the early, hands-on training they need to jumpstart their career path. Plenty of education providers, such as Upskilled, offer courses such as their ICT30118 - Certificate III in Information, Digital Media and Technology - Interactive Gaming and Programming Specialisation; a qualification that not only touches on the fundamentals of ICT and games development, but enables students to create a substantial portfolio upon completion, as well. 

2. It boosts your chances of getting into uni.

students at university studying

Though professionals need a minimum of a VET qualification (usually in digital and interactive games or digital media technologies) to pursue a career in this field, a related degree can typically boost your chances of employment. According to Payscale, a bachelor’s degree is generally preferred among companies; displaying further expertise and formal training. 

By getting an early start on both your portfolio and vocational study as a high schooler, you may lift your chances of enrolling in your chosen university course. 

It can therefore benefit your educational (and thus, career) pathway to pursue VET studies, as plenty such courses (such as Upskilled’s) have no specific entry requirements. It’s a flexible way of not only gaining work-ready skills, but furthering your options in higher education.

3. It offers early insight into the industry.

Sure, a job in video games can seem like the dream. But like most “ideal” careers – there’s plenty more behind the scenes than what the glitz and glamour convey.

By getting a taste of the gaming industry as a high schooler, you’ll get to reflect on your career goals at an early stage – before the pressures of university and employment. Training with a VET course or pursuing apprenticeships while in school offers valuable insight into the working environment of video game companies, the general culture of the field, and employer expectations. Students as early as Year 10 can acquire these opportunities, allowing them to explore the industry under the wings of experts. 

As such, you’ll discover whether the gaming industry is truly a field you’d like to pursue – challenges and all. You’ll additionally gain plenty of practical, industry-standard skills in the process, applicable to the actual workplace. 

Plus, it’s a nice change of pace from the typical classroom. Pursuing your career dreams on the side through work placements and traineeships gets you up on your feet, putting your theories and skills into practice. It’s a chance to chase something you truly want to learn about, building a sense of achievement in the process. 

4. It builds on your network and experience early.

young people facing computer screens

Australia’s video games industry can be a highly competitive one, with employers placing high value on technical skills in programming, design, and electronics. Building your career while in high school thus gives you more time to polish your abilities, experience, and creative ideas to stand out in the sea of job applicants

However, as with any competitive field, having a strong network of business connections can do wonders for your career progression. As with skills and experience, establishing these relationships at an early stage places yourself ahead of the rest once university or employment rolls around.

Such contacts are not only formed through work placements or traineeships, but through any extra (VET) courses you take, as well. In his testimonial, Upskilled alumni Joel Watson shares his experience undertaking their ICT40915 - Certificate IV in Digital and Interactive Games, and how he was able to meet “…people from different backgrounds… from visual arts to the logistics industry.” 

You never know if you’ll bump into the right people from the right field (or company!) – who may be able to help you in what you do. 

Planning your future straight out of high school is scary enough – but doing so while you’re still in it? While intimidating and ambitious, getting a career head start in high school can set you ahead of the competition; especially in one as intense as the video games industry. 

By getting the right training and education you need at an early stage, you’re crafting a smoother transition from school to employment (or university!). The proper courses and workplace experience build on your portfolio and industry knowledge, granting you a higher advantage in the fast-paced, demanding world of video game development.

Ready to start your career in video games?

As mentioned, secondary students now have an opportunity to take VET courses alongside their main studies. Upskilled offers a ICT30118 - Certificate III in Information, Digital Media and Technology - Interactive Gaming and Programming Specialisation; an entry-level course for anyone looking to pursue a career in video game design and development

Students will have the opportunity to acquire nationally-recognised training, while also developing industry-level skills in animation, modelling, and programming – along with fundamental practices in an ICT workplace. Best of all, it’s completely online, allowing you to train on the side while tending to other study commitments. 

Kickstart your career in video games, and enquire today
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