game, game. repeat.

Game Industry Pay and College Plans

Fri 23 July 2004

Justin Writes:

Hi, my name is Justin I. I live in southern part of California. I am only 14 years old but I am serious to pursue this kind of job. I’ve made maps for games like counter-strike , Medal Of Honor, Call Of Duty, and some more. I am currently working as a mapper for a Half-Life 2 mod called Insects Infestation. I dont know what its like to work at ea, or if its good pay. Also what college is fit for this. EA is one of my favorite game brands, I like mostly first person shooters, like the battlefield series. I’m waiting for the new one to come out ;). It would mean very much to me if you can answer my questions.

My Reply:

Justin, You are doing exactly the right thing making maps, mods (man, when is HL2 going to come out I can hardly wait anymore!!), and games showcases your passion and ability both of which will take you far. EA’s compensation is very good when you include stock, bonuses, benefits, and its other forms. The game industry pays engineers slightly less that they can make writing, for example, accounting software, but artists are often paid better while making games than they are in other pursuits. You’ll find that some mid-sized game companies pay more than EA to compensate for their less competitive track record, resources, and career opportunities and that just makes for some interesting and occasionally tough career choices.

As for college, you should study your butt off and get into the best 4 year college you can. Game makers benefit from having a broad education. Not only do the people who made Medal of Honor have a knowledge of the technical aspects of game making, but they also know a thing or two about history, literature, politics, physics, and psychology. Games touch all sort of fields of study and the people who excel in this industry often have specialized skills supported by a well-rounded education.

Justin Writes:

Thank you lots. a couple questions I forgot, If I want to be in the map/model (3d) part of the game industry, what is that position called? And do you know any particular college I should intend? - half-life 2 has been haunting me for the last couple months, I cant wait to play it, with its physics and graphics. I am also waiting for the sdk to come out, so I can start working on the hl2 hammer. What do you do for EA and how is it working there? I’ve watched shows on the process showing what crimson Skys for xbox was going through, hard work, but it looks fun to work in that kind of environment. which EA do you work at? and what do you do? I tried looking for someone that works at ea for a long time [-that emails me back-] haha. glad I finally found a person.

My Reply:

Mappers are called ‘Level Designers’ in the industry. You should go to the best college you can get into–Harvard and MIT are always good picks. ;) You want to go to the best college for your area of interest and don’t worry about whether it’s good for the game industry. A general computer science degree from MIT will get you further in the game industry than any game focused program at a lesser college. You can read some more in-depth advice here. As for me and what I do, you can check all that stuff out on my blog.

Updated on October 22, 2015:

Redacted Justin’s last name by his request. Fixed some typos too.