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A good way into the industry is to start with a publishing company as a games tester - I know several people who started this way and have now become game producers and designers.  Testers can start work quite young but usually after A-levels (college) - you will find that having a second language such as French, German, Spanish or Italian will be very useful in this area (and you could go from being a tester into a localisation role).  Generally there are no qualifications needed for a tester, you just need to be a hardcore games player and willing to test a game for 3 or 4 months straight and sometimes work long hours (which is the case for a lot of jobs in this industry).  You need to be able to find bugs and explain as clear and precise as possible the problem in either writen form in a big report or verbally to the actually developers.  You will learn a lot from being a tester (editing or creating reports in a database such as Microsoft Access, creating product assessment reports in a word processor such as Microsoft Word and lots more) and can progress to Senior and Lead Tester, and then move on to search roles as Assistant Producer or Level Designer, etc.  You also need to be able to tell what makes a good game good and what could be done or improve a lesser game.  You might also get the chance to travel to the developers to test at their offices, whether they are in the UK or abroad, you would then be able to suggest improvements for the game and have a hand in creating the end product, so it can be a good experience.

If you wish to start this way I suggest you contact the Quality Assurance Managers at the larger publishing companies with regard to a games/QA testing position.

Utilities like Dark Basic (3D Games Maker - are not used in the professional computing world, but do help beginners understand the process of creating a game.  Individuals carry out each aspect of the creation of a game, e.g. we have artists to work on anything relating to art/graphics, programmers to code the game and designers (level and game designers) to create the levels and design the game.  These types of utilities put everything into one and make things much simpler, but are limited.  You would need to have in-depth knowledge and would need to be either fluent in at least one programming language like C/C++, be able  to use software packages such as 3DStudio Max, Maya, Photoshop, etc., to be able to use programs such as Steinberg's Cubase VST for creating music or have used and created levels of such games like Quake, Unreal, Half-Life, etc. with their respective editors.  Good Game Designers have all-round knowledge and perhaps have concentrated heavily on one area, e.g art.  There's also the Internet or mobile aspect of gaming to think about. These are getting more and more important all the time so any skills or knowledge you have relating this is can be beneficial.

Going straight into artists, programmers,  musicians or designers roles is harder and generally most companies  (developers) in the games industry look for experienced people or people with high levels of qualifications, so for example, we generally look for people who have already worked on programming projects, preferably games, or have a degree, or equivalent, in programming, e.g. in C/C++ and have good demos of games or utilities they've created. Art/Graphic roles are more subjective, so good examples of previous work are very important.

There are more and more university degrees becoming available that are aimed for the computer games industry (programming, art, etc.), so check with them. Included below is a brief list of the courses and links to the university's sites below (taken from Issue 7 in 2001 of Develop (, an international monthly magazine for game programmers, artists, musicians and producers).  Some of these have been updated (on 11th June 2002), so please check with the university: -

University of Abertay Dundee, UK -

- Computer Games Technology - BSc (Hons) & MSc
- Computer Arts - BSc (Hons)
- BSc (Hons) Computing (Games Development)
- Interactive Entertainment Design - BA (Hons)

Bolton Institute, UK -

- Leisure Computing Technology - BSc (Hons)
- Computer Game Development - BSc (Hons)

Bournemouth University, UK - National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) -

- Computer Animation - MA/MSc/PGDip
- Computer Animation (Effects) - MA/PGDip
- Computer Animation - MPhil/PhD

Bournemouth University, UK - Media School -

- Interactive Media Production, BA (Hons)
- Creative Digital Arts, Foundation Degree

University of Bradford, UK -

- Interactive Systems and Video Games Design - BSc (Hons)
- Computer Animation and Special Effects - BSc (Hons)

University of Derby, UK -

- Computer Studies (Digital Entertainment) - BSc (Hons)

Essex University, UK -

- Computer Games and Internet Technology - BEng
- Computer Games Engineering - MSc

University of Huddersfield, UK -

- Multimedia Design and Virtual Reality Design - BA/BSc (Hons)

University of Hull, UK - and

- Games Programming - MSc
- Computer Graphics and Virtual Environments - MSc

Leeds Metropolitan University, UK -

- Computer Entertainment Technology - BSc (Hons)
- Computer and Digital Product Technology - BSc & BTEC/HND

University of Lincoln, UK -

- Games Computing (Software Development) - BSc (Hons)

Liverpool John Moores University, UK - International Centre for Digital Content -

- Digital Games - MA

Liverpool John Moores University, UK - School of Computing -

- Computer Games Technology - MSc

London College of Music and Media, UK -

- Digital Arts with Digital Animation - BA
- Digital Arts with design for Interactive Media - BA
- Digital Arts with video production - BA
- Digital Arts Special (which includes special effects) - BA

- Design for Interactive Media with Digital Arts - BA
- Design for Interactive Media with Digital Animation - BA

- Multimedia Computing with Digtal Arts (includes games programming) - BSc
- Multimedia Computing with Design for Interactive Media - BSc

- Interactive Software Development - MSc
- Conputer Arts - MA
- Compsing for New Media - MMus

University of Middlesex, UK -

- Computer Science (Graphics and Games) - BSc (Hons)

Paisley University, UK -

- Computer Games Technology - BSc (Hons)

University of Plymouth, UK -

- MeidaLab Arts - BSc (Hons)

St Helenís College, UK -

- Foundation Degree in Computer Game Production

Salford University, UK -

- Computer and Video Games - BSc (Hons)

Stanford, USA -

- History of Computer Game Design: Technology, Culture, and Business

University of Sunderland, UK -

- BSc (Hons) Interactive Entertainment Systems

Tameside College, UK -

- New Media - Foundation Degree

University of Teeside, UK -

- Interactive Computer Entertainment - BSc
- Computer Games Design - BA

Wolverhampton, UK -

- Computer Science (Multimedia Technology) - BSc
- Computer Science (Games Development) - BSc

Basically, if you are looking to get into the industry check in computer game magazines such as Edge (they had a special supplement entitled 'Playing the game' with issue 97 that concerned courses and computer game related jobs) and look at their job section near the back. You can find out what companies are looking for and what qualifications and experience they expect each person to have.  I would suggest to you to get the highest qualification you can or willing to go for.  A degree should get you far.

There are many job agencies on the Internet that are specifically for the
games industry, check out the links below.

Aardvark Swift Interactive Consultants -
Answers Recruitment -
Change Ltd -
CoolGameJobs -
Datascope Recruitment -
DS Interactive Ltd -
ElanIT - -
GamesRecruit -
GisaJob Recruitment -
HeadShed - -
Interact Jobs -
Mohawk -
OPM Response Ltd -
Pelican Consultants -
Tetra Recruitment -

And these sites might be of use to you.

Blitz Games GameOn - -
Edge Recruit -
IGDA - Breaking In -
Jobs4Gamers - (DaliyRadar)

I hope this will be of some help

Good luck for your future career.

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