Job Roles in the gaming industry

PDF: Job roles


Job roles in the gaming industry throughout time

In order to create a game, there needs to be a development team. This team usually requires designers, artists, modellers, animators and composers. Designers are the ones who would come up with the games’ characters, setting, story and concepts; these are usually the highest paid people in the team as they are responsible for the entire look and feel of the game. Artists might have different roles when in a development team, some making the concept art of the game, and some creating textures. Modellers and animators can sometimes work on both jobs depending on the workload; these two jobs weren’t really introduced until 3D gaming really hit off in the 2000’s. Finally composers and sound designers create in game sounds and music, this is arguably one of the more important jobs, as without sound or music a game could be rendered unplayable.

Although the popularity of video games has spiked only within the last decade or two, one of the earliest video game dates back to 1958. Created by William Higinbothan, an American physicist, ‘Tennis for two’ was the very first recorded video game to be created. The game was originally designed as something to entertain people visiting Brookhaven National Laboratory and create public interest for future scientific projects.

Although simple, hundreds of people lined up to play Tennis for two and was an enormous success for Higinbothan. This game demonstrates the slow rise of the gaming industry, as the similar game titled ‘Pong’ released 14 years later.

Created in 1972, Pong is believed to be the game that started the industry, with shipping 150 units soon after its creation, it became one of the best selling Christmas presents of the time. Much like today game creators came from a variety of jobs, an example of this being Pong’s creator Allan Alcorn, who had an electrical engineering and computer science background. Back in this decade the systems to create a game were much different to the present technology, the games would often be simple 2D games with simple sound design, this meant companies like Atari didn’t need 3D modellers, animators, writers, musicians, etc.

The 1980s was the decade video games started to become popular across the world, games like Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Tetris, and super Mario Bros released throughout the decade and were played endlessly on arcade machines and computers. According to, the development team of Super Mario Bros consisted of a total six people, two designers, 3 programmers and one composer. Although Super Mario Bros’ team only consisted of six people, the number grew to 50 as the 2.5D Super Mario Bros U released.

The 90s was the time when video games started to migrate more and more on to consoles and handheld devices, and away from the traditional arcade machines. Games like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom revolutionised the industry by bringing in 3D gaming and ultra violence. For Doom a new game engine had to be created by John Carmack, this new engine introduced advanced texture mapping, variable light levels and floors at varying altitude. Adrian Carmack, Kevin Cloud and Gregor Punchatz created the artwork while John Romero, Sandy Petersen and Tom Hall created the level design. A single man named Bobby Prince created the sound. This shows that even though a decade of games creation, the development teams haven’t changed in size considerably, as games were quite simple still.

In the early 90s a games company named Retro Studios spawned the popular game titled “Donkey Kong Country”. The development team consisted of one designer, 3 artists, 2 writers and 3 composers. This game introduced a unique 2.5d aspect that caught player’s attention and could be handled quite well by the current consoles to a lot of people’s surprise. DK Country released on the SNES, the Game Boy Colour, the Game Boy Advance and later the Wii.

As the new millennium begins, Sony releases the PlayStation 2 a year before Microsoft brings out their Xbox. These two consoles will allow developers to create more complex games and at the same time, grow their teams will new roles and responsibilities. Popular games such as Grand Theft Auto III released, bringing in new game aspects that required more time to make and a slightly larger team. 3D modellers were needed as well and more artists to create the vast world that the player could explore. More writers were needed as unlike the straightforward games of the past, this game needed dialog, radio personalities, a diverse soundtrack and much more.

The PlayStation 2 era continued for a good decade before games started to move only to the new PlayStation 3. As time went on teams started to get bigger and bigger, an example is Call of Duty: World at War, which consisted of 3 producers, 2 designers, 2 lead artists, 3 writers and one composer including all of the lesser employees. This game also required top of the line sound design as well and a variety of voice actors. This is about the time AAA games started to become popular money makers for games companies.

2015 was a good year for both Indie game developers as well as AA games companies. Games like Fallout 4, which required just over 100 people to create, have released with a lot of success. While the big games companies are working on their next title, indie developers like Jonatan Soderstrom and Dennis Wedin create games like Hotline Miami 2. Both Hotline Miami 1 and 2 were created by just two men and received positive reviews. In the present day it seems a lot of games are being created by very small development teams, some doing multiple jobs to just get the game released on platforms like Steam, which allow the average person to release their game to the general public and make money off of it.

The average person making games is becoming an increasingly popular idea, due to the cheap price of software. Pieces of software such as the Unreal engine, blender and Mixamo make it possible to create games without having to belong to a company. Some programs can even rig your character for you and give you a variety of different animations for free.

In the future I believe that due to the increasing amount of game making software going free and easy to use, companies will eventually start needing less and less workers as animation becomes automatic and 3D modelling can be achieved by merely scanning a picture at different angles. Games will be able to release quicker and better than ever before. As technology becomes more affordable and with younger generations learning how to code, games will be more commonplace and possibly due to it’s growing popularity, games will take the next step onto virtual reality.

Although it is not currently a popular way to play games currently, it is predicted that virtual reality will be the future of games, allowing the player to be fully immersed in the game world while being able to use special devices to walk around and use their bodies to move the character and make actions.

There is a worry that games might be advancing too quickly however, as people’s skills start to become pointless at the introduction of new software that can to the job in a matter of minutes. Another worry is that people would become too immersed within games, leaving their real life in favour of a virtual one. However these are just predictions, laws are in place currently stopping games from becoming too realistic, but there is no knowing if these will change.


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