Presented by Full Sail University
The breadth and depth of opportunities available in the multi-billion-dollar gaming industry are limitless. Whether an individual takes a more traditional route or creates their own path for gaming in another industry, the rise of gamification in all sectors proves beneficial for those who want to pursue a career in it.
According to Newzoo’s 2020 Global Games Market Report, the gaming industry has a revenue of over $174 billion with a 19.6% year-over-year growth. As the gaming industry continues to experience growth, careers and educational opportunities across the globe are evolving to encapsulate the dynamic field.
Located in Winter Park, Florida, Full Sail University has developed an expansive School of Gaming that offers undergraduate and graduate level degree programs covering several areas in the industry including: Game Art, Game Design, Game Development, and Simulation & Visualization in addition to Mobile Development.
Through the university’s comprehensive gaming-centric degree programs, they have been able to pinpoint six key areas that can help individuals break into the gaming industry. These areas include: a passion for gaming, quality educators, networking, project-based education, industry technology, and foresight.
1. Passion for Gaming
To sustain and be fulfilled in any career path, passion is important. At Full Sail, educators who are equally passionate about the field of gaming, feed into the knowledge and drive of its students. With over 20 years of gaming related educational offerings under its belt, Full Sail has been around to evolve as new developments and trends become available to the industry.
The passion of Full Sail’s students and educators has led to many innovations. For example, in 2018, School of Gaming students and faculty worked in tandem with Orlando-based non-profit organization, The Conductive Education Center of Orlando (CECO) to build augmented technology to assist in special-needs therapy. Today, the patent-pending technology is actively used by the non-profit organization.
Through the Schools of Gaming’s positive cause projects, students are given the opportunity to engage with the gaming industry in ways that expand far beyond the realm of entertainment.
2. Quality Educators
When pursuing a career and education in the gaming industry, seek out an educational institution that not only requires its educators to have the academic prerequisites to teach the course, but also relevant professional industry training. The intersection between academic theory and practical instruction centered around hands-on professional learning offers students a richer academic experience.
“At Full Sail, we want our students to learn from someone who’s worked in the gaming industry before,” stated Angelique Smith, Director of Faculty Affairs & Development at Full Sail. “By equipping each classroom with an industry professional, our students are able to have a first-hand look into the ins and outs of the gaming industry before ever graduating.”
Full Sail requires faculty in its core courses to have a minimum of four years of related industry work and experience.
3. Networking Opportunities
Having a built-out network is important. According to LinkedIn’s Ultimate List of Hiring Statistics, the number one way to discover a new job opportunity is through referrals.
Full Sail’s Career Development Department assists in broadening the professional network of its students. With a mission of helping students and alumni on the road to their desired career paths, the team dedicates resources to getting students and graduates in contact with the appropriate industry professionals in their field of interest.
Through professional hiring events, alumni networking events, portfolio reviews, and so much more, students at Full Sail are equipped with the tools and resources to tackle the professional world with grace.
Once graduated, many alumni come back to Full Sail to guide current students as they embark on their various career paths. Opportunities such as Tech Tuesday, which live streams conversations with graduates working in the technology industry, and Hall of Fame Week learning sessions provide students with additional resources and anecdotal assistance to help them take charge of their careers.
“In addition to numerous opportunities hosted throughout the year for students and alumni, Full Sail hosts its annual Hall of Fame Week, a much anticipated event that features panel discussions, workshops, meet and greet sessions, and other educational opportunities for students to engage in with alumni who are now leading the industry,” said Doree Rice, Director of Career Development at Full Sail. “This weeklong event is an amazing opportunity to get current students in front of the right industry professionals and organizations to help advance their career growth.”
Full Sail’s Career Development team and the university at large, continue to be advocates throughout the professional journeys of its graduates and beyond.
4. Real World Experience
Full Sail’s Mobile Development Bachelor of Science degree program and School of Gaming degree programs – Game Art Bachelor of Science, Game Design Bachelor of Science, Game Design Master of Science, Game Development Bachelor of Science, and Simulation & Visualization – are built on project-based work in professional environments.
The university has developed a unique curriculum that combines elements of creativity, art, business skills, life skills, technical prowess, and academic achievement. Through this compellation of hard and soft skills gained at Full Sail, upon graduation, students are prepared to enter the professional gaming world.
Full Sail has a program advisory committee (PAC) that reviews the curriculum in each degree program twice a year. The PAC is made up of industry professionals with vast experience in the technology and gaming industry. The committee helps determine what assignments to offer to make sure students are prepared to work in the industry upon graduation. With the accelerated nature of the degree programs, the PAC can impart relevant industry knowledge to the faculty and program directors in real-time.
Students can earn their bachelor’s degree in as little as 20-months on campus, and 29-months online. Master’s degrees at Full Sail can be earned in 12-months – allowing students to actively pursue their career sooner.
5. Experience and Knowledge Using Cutting Edge Technology
Technology in the gaming industry is constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of its creators and consumers. Housed on Full Sail’s 210+ acre campus, the university holds over 110 studios and labs where students are encouraged to take their learning experiences to the next level.
There are several gaming-centric studios and labs at Full Sail including Blackmoor Studios that give students the opportunity to create using industry-standard technology, the Fab Lab that promotes making dreams a concrete reality through building and visualization, the User Experience (UX) Lab where students can test the effectiveness of their products, the AR/VR Lab where students learn to develop applications for different types of AR/VR hardware, and the Simulation Lab where students can create and run simulations of space shuttles, roller coasters, and more.
Through Full Sail’s on-campus labs and Project LaunchBoxTM – a Full Sail program that ensures each student receives the hardware and software needed for their degree program, students have access to industry-standard technology to create, test, and deploy their creations. A good example is the university’s Blackmoor Studios that offers a game studio environment for game development final projects. This collaborative learning environment is dedicated to the late Dave Arneson, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, and the course director for Full Sail’s “Rules of the Game” class for nearly a decade before his passing in 2009.
With rapid growth in the gaming industry, those who want to enter it should know the broad scope of opportunities available. Full Sail’s gaming alumni are working in everything from AAA game titles, government and health to entertainment and banking. A few notable organizations where graduates lend their skills are: Netflix, Google, Epic Games, AdventHealth, Capital One, and so much more.
At the 7th Annual Game Awards held in December 2020, more than 250 Full Sail University alumni were credited on over 30 games in 22 different categories. The School of Gaming alumni contributed to winning projects including:
- League of Legends – Best Esports Game
- Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 – Best Sports/Racing Game
- Microsoft Flight Simulator – Best Sim/Strategy Game
Even before graduating, students are active in the gaming community and the overall gamification of different industries. For example, in 2021, Full Sail’s gaming students who worked on We’re All Going to Die got approved to release their game on the XBOX console. The game was fully developed by Full Sail students, graduate interns, and non-Full Sail externs under the guidance of a faculty member. Using Full Sail’s UX Lab – a lab on campus dedicated to user experience testing – students were able to administer quality assurance testing for the game.
As the gaming industry continues to rapidly expand, it is important to hone the skills necessary to help you stand out in a hiring pool. Full Sail is dedicated to helping students learn the skills necessary to break into the industry faster.
Whether you are in the field or hoping to be in it one day, seeking out the appropriate resources and industry-leading education can aid in advancing your career to the next level.