I remember wanting to be a game designer when I was younger. I was constantly playing games and wanted to develop my own to tell my story. Then I realized it took a lot of coding knowledge and I was out. You know what they say, those who can’t become a critic. Thus, I came to Game Industry News to write columns and reviews complaining about everyone else’s hard work.
This column though, I want to highlight an awesome trend that is developing in the game industry. Through the use of tools like Roblox and Unity, more people than ever are able to build video games. Roblox especially needs a mention because of the work they have done with younger content creators. Unity, which was used in Black Book and reviewed recently, is another great program that simplifies many tools. In addition to Black Book, lots of great titles like The Long Dark and Cuphead are made with it.
I believe that these sorts of programs are required for the game industry to survive. Video games are becoming exponentially more complex, requiring larger design teams. Role Playing Games such as Fallout and Elder Scrolls require massive teams to build within time constraints. So why do I, an unskilled writer of video games opinions, think there is going to be a shortage of game developers in the near future?
Simply put, college is not worth it anymore.
With college prices continuing to skyrocket and the relative limits on where you can work, many people may avoid entering the field. According to USNews, the cost for a 4 year degree in game design will cost between $38,000 and $77,000. This is an issue if you live in the United States because most game companies are based in California or across the border in Canada. This can be an issue for two reasons.
First, California is very expensive to live in as has been reported ad nauseum over the past decade or so. Also, if you spend all this money on education and are from across the country you may not have the money to relocate to take that job, if you get the job at all. If, for example, you get offered a job in the San Francisco Bay area for $60,000 that sounds like a win. Well, if you are carrying $40,000 in loan debt then you will likely be paying about $425 a month in student loans. According to RentHop, the cheapest bay area apartment (1BR) is $1,895 a month ($22,740 a year). Just like that you are barely scratching by and may not be able to survive.
Second, whenever you involve cross border travel there are going to be some steps. Language barriers could exist if the game developer is located in or near the French speaking areas of Canada. In addition, living in a foreign country would require a visa and passport which could affect job prospects.
So where do Roblox and Unity fit into all of this?
Well, they allow people affordable ways to build games from home with a team or as an individual. They also introduce people to design tools and philosophy. By allowing a low-cost alternative, remote methods of learning is more likely to get someone to the field then spending a lot of money at college and risk not getting a job. These programs are also a great way to do a talent search for potential designers.
While we essentially left the superstar game developer back with John Romero’s Daikatana incident, the industry could use some more designers with great creative vision. By training new designers using tools like Unity and Roblox, which can be taught and learned without requiring a college degree, and allowing them to post their content, companies can find a potential designer and then cover college or training for whatever areas they are weak in, but the important thing is that they are bringing in someone who already has working knowledge of game-making and gaming.
Is this going to happen? It already kind of is happening. More games are being made with Unity and Roblox already. And there are stories of game companies hiring talented designers regardless of their educational background. Reportedly the person who made the Fallout London mod was hired by Bethesda even before the mod is fully finished and released to the public.
We will all just have to watch the game industry to see if trends like that continue. Until then gamers, remember to stay safe and you can’t catch COVID from your game console.