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Is it better to be a freelancer or an employee in the video game industry?

In this episode of Game Industry Career Guide Podcast, I answer a question from Mihai, who asks, “Is it better to be a freelancer or an employee in the game industry? I’ve read some articles about this but they didn’t offer me enough information to actually make a definitive decision.”

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The difference between an employee and a freelancer
  • The pros and cons of being a freelancer, and how it affects your financial stability
  • The best way to successfully start a career as a freelancer

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Which factors will affect my salary level at a video game job?

In this episode of Game Industry Career Guide Podcast, I answer a question from John Paul who asks, “I was wondering a few things. 1: Do you get paid more for being at a company, say 10 years versus 2 or 3? And 2: If you work for a bigger company are you more likely to make more? 3: How many years of schooling do you have to go to for most companies to hire you?”

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why salary is an important consideration when selecting a career
  • The 4 major factors that determine how much you’ll make in your game job
  • How project bonuses actually work, and why they’re not quite what they seem

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Which video game job pays the most, and what education is required?

In this episode of Game Industry Career Guide Podcast, I answer a question from Mark O., who asks, “I’m wondering, in game development, which is the highest paying job, and how much experience would I need? And what would I have to study in college to get on my way to this job?”

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Which video game jobs have the highest annual salaries
  • Which game jobs require a college education, and which ones are more flexible
  • Why one of the game jobs is the easiest way to start out

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Should I move to a big city to start my career in video games?

In this episode of Game Industry Career Guide Podcast, I answer a question from Julie, who wants to know whether she should relocate to a different city to look for higher-paying game jobs?

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why some cities seem to pay much more than others, but why it may be an illusion.
  • How to evaluate the cost of living differences between two cities
  • The best cities in the world to find video game jobs

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Video Game Audio Engineer Salary for 2016

This article is part of the Video Game Developer Salary series. Read about the annual salary ranges of all video game jobs, and get advice on maximizing your paycheck throughout your career.
Game sound designer works a mixing board

When it comes to game audio, the toughest part might be landing the gig.

Table of Contents

  1. Game Audio salary: Overview
  2. Game Audio salary: Factors
  3. Search for Game Audio jobs
  4. Game Audio salary: Details
  5. Other factors that affect Audio salary
  6. Demand for Game Audio
  7. Should I become a Game Audio Engineer?

Of all the jobs in the video game industry, the audio engineer might be the most rare – there are significantly fewer audio jobs, compared to most any other role. Why? Partly because it’s common to have a single audio engineer to handle all the game projects for a studio. In fact, many studios don’t employ full-time audio staff at all – they contract their audio work to external freelancers.

But even freelance audio engineers can be paid very well compared to other game jobs. How much do video game audio engineers make? And how much could you make as an audio engineer?
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Video Game Developer Salary

game developer calculating annual pay

Does a game developer’s salary add up?

When it comes to getting a job, we all want to find a path through life that lets us do what we love every day – whether that’s creating art, writing great code, or creating new experiences for players.

But none of that matters if the job doesn’t pay enough to keep a roof over your head and dinner on the table. And it’s even more important if you have a family to care for, or if you plan to support a family some day. Having your dream job doesn’t mean squat unless it pays a living wage.

So you’re probably wondering: Does game development pay a living wage? Read more ›

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Video Game Artist Salary for 2016

This article is part of the Video Game Developer Salary series. Read about the annual salary ranges of all video game jobs, and get advice on maximizing your paycheck throughout your career.

young video game artist

Does video game art pay better than finger painting? Or is it just slightly less messy?

Table of Contents

  1. Game Artist salary: Overview
  2. Game Artist salary: Factors
  3. Game Artist salary: Details
  4. Other factors that affect Artist salary
  5. Demand for Game Artists
  6. Should I become a Game Artist?

When I first started playing video games (way back in the 1970’s!), the “art” was pretty terrible. A game’s screen could only show a few colors at a time, and often the “character” you were playing was little more than a colored square. Games were so simple that it was common for a single developer to do everything by herself – all the design, all the coding, and all the art.

But that all changed over the years. As gaming systems grew more powerful and made the leap from 2-dimensions to full-color 3D, the video game artist’s job became too much for one person to handle. Now, the job that was once done by a single artist has fragmented into many different art specialties, each with its own suite of tools and techniques that take a lifetime to master. But when it comes down to the paycheck, not all art jobs are created equal.

How much do video game artists make? And how much could you make as a game artist?
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Video Game Programmer Salary for 2016

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This article is part of the Video Game Developer Salary series. Read about the annual salary ranges of all video game jobs, and get advice on maximizing your paycheck throughout your career.
Video Game Programmer Stereotype

Don’t worry, you don’t need a bow-tie to write kicka** code.

Table of Contents

  1. Game Programmer salary: Overview
  2. Game Programmer salary: Factors
  3. Search for Game Programming jobs
  4. Game Programmer salary: Details
  5. Other factors that affect Programmer salary
  6. Demand for Game Programmers
  7. Should I become a Game Programmer?

When young people dream of making video games, they usually think of becoming a game designer. Learning how to be a video game programmer isn’t usually on their radar, because most people don’t really understand what a game developer does. In fact, game programming can seem like a black art that’s too technical (and too nerdy!) for the average person to understand.

But the truth is that anybody can learn to be a game programmer. Even you! And there’s another thing you might not know about game programming: Video game programmers have, on average, the highest salaries of any development job in the game industry.

Now do I have your attention…?

How much do video game programmers make? And how much could you make as a game programmer?

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Video Game Tester Salary for 2016

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This article is part of the Video Game Developer Salary series. Read about the annual salary ranges of all video game jobs, and get advice on maximizing your paycheck throughout your career.
An astronaut with colorful planets

Why shoot for the moon when Reach and Pandora await you?

Table of Contents

  1. Search for Game Tester jobs
  2. Game Tester salary: Overview
  3. Game Tester salary: Factors
  4. Game Tester salary: Details
  5. Other factors that affect Tester salary
  6. Demand for Game Testers
  7. Should I become a Game Tester?

When I was a kid, everybody dreamed of growing up to be an astronaut or a firefighter, a ballerina or a doctor. Things have really changed! Ask a modern kid what they want to become. Even the old standbys of “teacher” and “pro athlete” have been bumped off the wish list, replaced by something that once seemed out of reach: a job as a video game tester.

By now, most grown-ups know that getting a job as a video game tester doesn’t mean you sit around and play games. But it is a great way to break into the game industry. In fact, I’m the poster boy for starting as a tester: I began my career in QA, went on to become a designer and an engineer, and then eventually a director in charge of multiple departments. (I did go to school to learn programming, but only after I’d started my QA job.)

After you’ve done your research on what a video game tester actually does, you may wonder about a more practical matter: What is an average video game tester salary?

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Video Game Designer Salary for 2016

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This article is part of the Video Game Developer Salary series. Read about the annual salary ranges of all video game jobs, and get advice on maximizing your paycheck throughout your career.
Man wondering How much do game designers make?

You can make games. But can you make money?

Table of Contents

  1. Game Designer salary: Overview
  2. Game Designer salary: Factors
  3. Search for Game Design jobs
  4. Game Designer salary: Details
  5. Other factors that affect Designer salary
  6. Demand for Game Designers
  7. Should I become a Game Designer?

When people find out that I work at a game studio, there’s always one or two in the group that excitedly explain how badly they want to become a video game designer. They love to play games, talk about games, and read news about games. Boy oh boy, they’re passionate about games!

I always encourage them to follow that passion. But I also temper it by describing what a brutally hard job it can be at times. Once their enthusiasm simmers down a bit, the next question is usually a little more practical: How much do video game designers make?

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