As a gamer, I have been wondering about the job outlook for technical communicators within the video game development industry. This seems like a fantastically exciting industry to work in if one is a technical communicator who just so happens to be a gamer and passionate about gaming. After completing an exhaustive search on the internet for technical communication jobs within the gaming industry, I found that it seems like they are either hard to find or are slim to none. So I figured that these jobs must be titled something else other than the usual technical communicator or technical writer.
According to a whitepaper on the gaming industry by Laura Hamilton, there are four common job titles for technical communicators in the gaming industry which include, “instruction manual writer, web content writer, strategy guide writer and game designer.” (Hamilton)
The instruction manual writer writes the small instructional booklet that comes with the game inside the case. This booklet lists rules, controls and other important information needed for a user to get started playing the game. The web content writers write technical content for the development company website.
The strategy guide writers write books which help users complete and win the game. In some cases, these books can be referred to as a “walk-through” of the game. A good example of a strategy guide would be the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Official Strategy Guide by David Hodgson.
Game designers write the game design document. According to gamasutra.com, a major website for game developers, it says, “the purpose of documentation is to communicate the vision in sufficient detail to implement it.” So the game designers would come up with an idea for the game and put it on paper which would act as a guide for further creation of the game. Next, the designer would use this document to make a technical design document. According to Sloper, this is, “a document that describes the process they will use; what engine or other technology, and will identify the challenges (of designing the game) and address how to handle them.” Lastly, the game designer would create a game proposal. According to gamasutra.com this document should include, “the revised game concept, market analysis, technical analysis, legal analysis, and cost and revenue projections.” After the game designers have gotten everything about the new game on paper, they will work with the programmers and other team members to make the game come to life.
There are many video game development companies in the United States. One of the most prominent ones is called 343 Industries which is owned by Microsoft Studios. 343 developed Halo 4 which came out about three weeks ago. 343 industries is now in control of all things Halo related. Halo was once controlled by Bungie, until they broke off from Microsoft and became independent. Afterward, Microsoft created 343 Industries to take control of Halo. 343 Industries is based out of Washington.
Another popular video game development company is Bethesda which is owned by ZeniMax Media. Bethesda is both a developer and a publisher and they are based in Maryland. They have released games such as the popular Fallout 3 and the entire Elder Scrolls series including the award-winning Skyrim.
A third popular video game development company is Epic Games. They have made games like Gears of War and the Unreal Series. They are based in North Carolina. A fourth popular development company is Gear Box Software. They made the Borderlands series and the Brothers in Arms series. Gear Box Software is based out of Texas.
The last two popular development companies I researched were Infinity Ward and Treyarch. Both companies have worked on and developed games in the Call of Duty series. These two companies are both owned by Activision Blizzard, which publishes their games. Infinity Ward made the first Call of Duty as well as four other games in the Call of Duty franchise. Treyarch has made Black Ops, Spiderman 3 and Quantum of Solace. Infinity Ward and Treyarch are both located in California.
It seems like there are technical communication jobs in the game development industry, but they are hard to find. I am glad I did the search early enough to know what I am in for when I do start job hunting. If anyone has any other information on this topic, please let me know.
Ruby A. Stevens