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Common myths about the video game industry.

August 17, 2007

Common myths about the video game industry.
By Tuan Pham (Contributing writer)

Whenever we chat with our friends in the game industry, there are a few common gripes that always appear. No matter if a development group is large or small, major issues always crop up. This isn’t just talking about lack of pizza or Chinese during Crunch Time; these are pretty serious.

1) Only young male teenagers or college students are into video gaming.

According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the average gamer is 33 years old and has been playing games for nearly 12 years. In fact, 38 percent of all gamers are female.

In fact, serious gaming, a genre in the whole video game industry, is dedicated to using video games as a solution in the fields of health care, education, training and public policy. This wildly deviates from the myth of all gamers are single males who hang out at the local GameStop or Best Buy.

2) Being in the video game industry is just like printing money. There’s a lot of it out there and everyone involved gets rich.

While video game sales are reaching record highs ($7.4 billion in 2006), not everyone is successful. With the release of every blockbuster, such as World of Warcraft, Halo and Grand Theft Auto, there are at least hundreds of titles that end up collecting dust on the store shelves.

3) Only games that are successful are violent bloodbaths.

In 2005, only 15 percent of all game sales were rated M for Mature by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, or ESRB. While action games do dominate the market to a degree, there are legions of puzzle, childrens’, sports and casual games that are stocked on today’s shelves.

4) Only established franchises or massively multiplayer online role playing games are successful in today’s market.

While franchises such as Madden, Halo and Grand Theft Auto and MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online dominate the headlines, there are other titles who have done well in the market. Take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_video_games for a list of titles which sold more than 1 million copies. There’s a few that might be very suprising.

Last year, the eighth best selling game in the U.S. was Brain Age, a brain training game for the Nintendo DS. It sold even more copies in Japan. This brain-teasing serious game forces a person to take three educational tests each day to lessen mind fatigue over time. The follow-up, which has already shipped in Japan, will be released shortly in the U.S.

5) Staffing video game companies is cakewalk.

The pool of applicants for video game companies is extremely high right now. Schools are starting to tailor create game design degrees and people in the current generation have grown up with video gaming. However, there is a massive need for established project managers who have worked in high-stress, deadline-based environments as well as raw talent to think of the new games of tomorrow.

While degrees in game design or graphic design are valuable, one of the most important things to have is a solid portfolio of work when applying to game developer. Also, a major plus is experience in the software field in general.

As we chat with our contacts in the field, most of them do not have a game design degree. Some hold a degree in Computer Science, some in Liberal Arts, some that don’t even have college training. But, they are successful in their career.

Breaking into the industry has its challenges. Most, if not all, are surmountable.

Semper

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