The gaming industry rivals Hollywood for the scope and popularity of its products, and demand continues to grow worldwide. As a result, game design jobs are on the rise.
Skilled designers who know how to put games together are highly desired. Specifically, proficiency in 3D animation has become indispensable to the gaming industry. It’s an increasingly important skill for an aspiring game designer to possess.
Professional video game designers often start as hobbyists—they become enthusiasts for the medium after long hours playing games. But it takes more than enthusiasm to move from hobbyist to professional. A career in 3D animation requires planning and the right set of resources. Let’s dig in.
Building Your Portfolio as a 3D Animator
Game design jobs require a portfolio of your work. This shows a prospective employer what you can accomplish so they can determine if your artistic style meets their needs.
A strong portfolio contains a variety of samples that showcase your skills and style. Include both 2D and 3D animation projects—traditional animation techniques are vital to 3D animation. Include only your best work and choose pieces that complement each other. This will turn your portfolio into a visually appealing story.
In addition, showcase the various design programs and software you’re proficient in. Generally speaking, the more programs you know, the better. Potential employers will likely look for experience with tools like Photoshop, After Effects, Maya, Mudbox, Unity, and Premiere.
Your portfolio is the most effective way to demonstrate those skills to a prospective employer. What’s more, include context around each piece to highlight your flexibility and ability to make adjustments to meet the needs of a given project.
Networking Strategies for Aspiring Game Designers
Like any other position, networking is key in landing good game design jobs. That starts by keeping up with the industry—following trends, attending conventions, and making contact with people in a position to hire you.
Join online forums and similar communities and become a positive presence when you post and interact. Sharing industry news and lifting up the work of others can set you apart as a leader in the field.
In addition, prepare a set of business cards you can give out at conventions and look for peers with whom you have a good personal rapport. Then, build a list of potential contacts and keep in touch with them. You’ll be well-positioned to move on any potential game design jobs that open up.
The Benefits of Formal Training in 3D Animation
3D animation is a formal artistic discipline, which means it requires training to perfect. In general, most good video game jobs require a bachelor’s degree in the pertinent field, industry certification, and internships at a reputable gaming company.
You can get started immediately by reading books and finding reliable instructional online videos on game design and 3D animation. Beyond that, numerous colleges offer degrees in video game design, along with potential scholarships and other means of financing.
This training provides you with the needed cross-section of skills and access to competitions and similar opportunities to show your skills to potential recruiters. What’s more, the learned abilities and potential internship experience provide a strong baseline for your resume, giving you a leg up on the untrained competition.
Freelancing vs. In-House Game Design Jobs
Game design jobs tend to fall into one of two categories: freelance and in-house. There are pros and cons to each. As you progress into the world of video game design, you’ll find the best path for you.
Freelance designers hire out their 3D animation skills on specific projects or for set periods of time. They don’t exclusively work for a single company. In addition, freelancers tend to be paid more per hour. They also have the flexibility to pursue their own projects instead of being tied to whatever games the company pushes.
However, freelance work tends to ebb and flow. And, at least initially, freelancers must act as their own accountants, managers, and publicity agents as they seek work.
In-house jobs are essentially full-time positions working for a company on their specific games. These positions tend to offer more stability, including benefits such as a regular salary and healthcare.
What’s more, in-house designers can focus solely on their jobs. However, they often get little choice about what projects they work on.
Essential Skills for Game Designers With 3D Animation Experience
Animation isn’t the only skill a video game designer needs. Like nearly every professional position, game design jobs require both hard and soft skills.
- Hard skills include knowledge of 3D animation techniques, specific programs, and associated skills like sound engineering or public relations.
- Soft skills include communication, creativity, and social skills, which apply to a broad swath of work-related activities.
A good game designer has a wide array of both, allowing them to apply themselves to multiple tasks effectively. For instance, 3D animation skills can be applied to different aspects of game design, such as character design or user interface design.
And if your specific skills trend toward peripheral topics, such as marketing or game artistry, you’ll have a base understanding of how your field interacts with game production as a whole.
Navigating the Game Design Job Market
The gaming industry is in a constant state of change. New trends reshape the market daily as new technology pushes the boundaries of what games can do.
Getting good game design jobs means navigating the ups and downs of the market. It’s crucial to follow emerging trends and look at companies that could be in a position to make hires.
Internships and work-for-hire jobs are good ways to get a feel for the market. And again, staying active in forums and keeping up with industry news will also help you navigate job openings.
Game Design Jobs
Good game design jobs are out there, but finding them takes preparation and hard work. The better you can present yourself and your skills, the better your chances of landing a job in video game animation. Build a strong portfolio, stay updated on the latest news, and network with industry professionals to position yourself as a strong job candidate.
At Laetro, we specialize in putting creatives in touch with the right job for them—including jobs in the video game industry. If you’re a 3D animation wiz with the right skills for game design, become a Laetro Creative today. We’ll connect you with the job of your dreams!