Game Developers Not Playing When It Comes to Recruiting Staff

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Though competition for talented IT hires is tight everywhere, it's especially intense in the burgeoning video game industry, which generated sales of $18.8 billion in the U.S. last year.


To lure staff, game developers typically offer salaries higher than the norm, reports Forbes. The average video game programmer earns $83,383 a year, according to Game Developer Research's annual survey of industry salaries. Compare that to the $64,376 a year that average software engineers make, according to PayScale.com.


Video game salaries range from an average $39,063 for quality assurance testers to an average $132,305 for senior business and marketing execs, with an average salary of $73,600 for the overall industry. The high salaries are driven by the relatively small talent pool. There are just 39,700 people working in games development or publishing, according to a Game Developer Research Census.


The pickings are so good that the industry is beginning to attract folks like Darryl Horne, a guy featured in the Forbes article who left a project management job at Intuit to work for BioWare. Noting the unique nature of the work, Horne says:

It's a lot more interesting doing project review when you're watching critters move about, swords fly and blood splatter than it is when you stare at spreadsheets.

Unlike some other IT positions, game developers don't necessarily need formal training. Still, more students are showing interest, leading to the development of specialized programs at Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Southern California and Southern Methodist University.


And dude, video games may not be as far removed from the rest of corporate America as one might think. IBM partnered with a company called Seriosity to develop multi-player online role-playing games designed to foster management skills. For instance, a game called Innov8 helps folks develop and test their process improvement abilities.