There is no questioning the rise of the gaming business over the last few decades, as well as the impact it has had on the current generation.
According to a study conducted by MDEC in 2021, Malaysia is an incredibly lucrative gaming market, ranking third in Southeast Asia with an estimated value of US$786 million. Globally renowned gaming studios have also established operations in Malaysia, either directly or through engaging local outsourcing studios to contribute to the development of big-budget game projects.
IT and computing graduates will often have no trouble finding jobs in this field, as gaming companies are always in need of developers. However, it is still a highly-competitive line of work that requires extensive training and on-boarding.
That said, there has also been a big surge in the number of independent or mobile-focused game companies opening up in recent years. These may offer plenty of new entry-level opportunities for IT graduates, though they should expect more on-the-job learning in such organisations.
There are often three main roles for IT graduates in games development. Larger studios can afford to hire staff to fill these individual roles, but smaller studios often require staff to wear multiple hats. They are:
- Game play programmer: Developers in this role focus on how the game plays from a user perspective, which will involve plugging in design assets and making sure the system is responsive and user-friendly.
- Graphics programmer: Developers in this role are responsible for building or optimising an efficient graphics rendering engine, or tweaking technical features so that the game performs well on different systems.
- Back-end systems engineer: Developers in this role build the supporting systems of a game that aren’t directly seen by players. For example, this could include server-side logic and the login or billing functions of a large multiplayer online game.
Beyond these programming roles are other positions that support live operations, such as networking, security, and systems administration; as well as various members of art teams, such as animators, 3D modellers and environment artists.
Graduate-level newcomers typically begin as junior programmers working in teams with mentors, where they will pick up key skills necessary for the industry. Following that, recruits can specialise and become experts in their chosen field, or even lead their own team.
Talented individuals can also work towards taking on a production lead role. Such roles involve overseeing and managing the entire process of building a game, rather than concentrating on just one aspect of the development cycle.
Trends and developments
The video game industry is regarded as one of the most lucrative industries in the world, yet it is also quite unpredictable. The difficulty is to stay ahead of the curve and satisfy customers as games and gaming continue to evolve.
Battle royale, augmented reality, and live-service games are currently popular trends, while games like Fortnite have also demonstrated the benefits and allure of cross-platform gaming. There is also a clear global shift away from PC/console gaming. Only slightly more than 50 percent of gamers worldwide today play games on PCs and consoles, compared to 75 percent who use smartphones.
Pros and cons
An exhilarating industry
Working in the game development industry can be quite exciting because you'll always be exposed to fresh innovations and development trends.
Additionally, because programmers from all over the world are prepared to try out new ideas to enhance gaming as a medium, you can expect to be part of a field that is continuously striving to push the boundaries of technology and user experiences.
Unfortunately, the business is also infamous for lengthy periods of brutally long working hours, often referred to within the industry as “crunch”. Even at prestigious game development businesses, this is a commonplace working practice.
While there is more dialogue ongoing now about game developers’ responsibilities to provide better work-life balance to their staff, graduates should still be ready to work long hours if they want to begin a career in this field.