Believe it or not, a video game you know and love could turn into a fulfilling, lifelong career. And we’re not just talking about esports, where pro gamers compete for cash and prestige. For instance, driving simulator Gran Turismo could set you up for success on a real racetrack. Or factory simulator Satisfactory could prepare you for a role in project management.
Passion for video games can lead to professional opportunities
Video games are a global passion, with more than 2 billion players on computers, consoles and mobile devices. And while video games have only been in our homes for a few short decades, their impact on playtime and spare time has been remarkable and widespread. Recent data from the Entertainment Software Association indicates more than 212.6 million Americans play video games regularly. That’s 65% of all Americans — and they spent a whopping $56.6 billion on video games in 2022.
Research highlights a range of benefits from playing video games, including boosting children’s learning, health and social skills, according to the American Psychological Association.
Video games now intertwine with many people’s lives and interests, and games they like can indicate industries that best suit them, according to research from Skillprint.
The hidden creativity of sandbox titles
Sandbox titles — immersive video games that encourage experimentation and creativity — prove particularly helpful with regard to potential careers. While some sandbox games contain a narrative element, it typically won’t restrict players. That freedom enables players to flex their creativity by experimenting and creating their own gameplay elements.
Notably, Minecraft features no narrative element. Instead, it encourages players to forge materials with raw elements and design whatever they want. In some cases, that results in building structures, such as homes, castles or even a virtual Apple Park. But, in a more creative example, content creators have used the ideas behind Minecraft to create musical parodies of contemporary music.
Plus, some sandbox titles are highly specialized. For example, the game Satisfactory focuses on creating a factory. It lets players create elements of robotic automation in highly optimized and efficient production lines.
Gamers who like to play sandbox titles generally share an interest in analytics and project management. For example, they enjoy setting up a process to obtain raw materials to build a particular component. These skills translate to jobs in data analytics or project management, should sandbox players accept the challenge.
Simulators transform transportation and more
A simulator game is a different sandbox genre that mimics a real-world experience but takes creative liberties. For example, Cities: Skylines allows you to take on the role of a city planner, creating and designing your own city from the ground up. This may involve taking on the roles of street planner, roadway designer, policymaker and facilities manager.
Another such example is Farming Simulator. It allows you to assume the role of a farmer, completing tasks such as growing crops and selling assets. An immersive experience allows players, as a farmer or a farmhand, to get a feel for certain farming equipment through specialized controllers, styled as farming equipment control consoles.
Those who typically enjoy simulator games are often well-suited to roles in transportation and logistics. Many organizations, including Victoria, Australia’s Metro Tunnel project, as well as many airlines, use simulators to train staff on specialized equipment, such as signaling systems or aircraft.
Simulators are known for their ability to improve safety standards and demonstrate increased training efficiencies. So for anyone accustomed to using simulators as a pastime, working with them professionally can offer a diverse and rewarding experience.
Monetizing video game knowledge
Sometimes, opportunities to monetize video game knowledge come from unlikely places. Some may generate income through streaming on platforms like Twitch or YouTube Gaming. But that can prove difficult and time-consuming. For other gamers, esports can offer opportunities to use skills to earn income without needing a university degree.
Many global leagues exist, for games as diverse as Halo, League of Legends and Pokémon. Some offer the ability to earn an income while on the road. And highly skilled players may find themselves offered roles on esports teams like Cloud9 or OpTic Gaming.
In very rare cases, organizations may set up their own competitive gaming leagues and recruit players who may be able to transition to the real-world equivalent of a particular game. The 2023 film Gran Turismo explores the life and career of Jann Mardenborough. He’s a British motorsports racer who started his career by winning a contest then known as GT Academy. Mardenborough demonstrated his proficiency in the racing simulator Gran Turismo to such an extent that he received training to become a full-fledged race car driver.
For anyone looking to take their passion for video games to the next level, a variety of potential career opportunities await. Whether you show just a passing interest in Minecraft or you boast mad Halo skills, video games offer a valuable starting point.