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Although I would love to get a job in the gaming industry I can't help but feel I should have a backup plan. What I wanted to ask is game/level design a marketable skill that translates to other industries?

For example if your a programming in game development, you can be a software engineer in business, health care, finance, scientific etc, industries

If your an artist in game development, you can be an graphic artist, web designer, animator, advertisement, etc.

Do game/level designers have other industries they can get into other than gaming? If you think so, what are some industries that level design (or game design) would be marketable for?

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List the skills a game designer has, and you'll find out where else they can look for a job. (e.g. as mentioned, level design and architecture are a good match.) –  user744 Apr 12 '11 at 20:54
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3 Answers

There is the ever-growing field of serious gaming to consider, if you get a formal game design training.

It has many variants now :

  • edutainment: learning games for kids (an old and very profitable business), getting a lot of attention with iPad/tablets right now.
  • corporate training: currently not very big, but there are growing possibilities there. Might be more popular than 'survival'-type 'seminars'.
  • institutional training: military forces in several countries now use serious gaming as a way to train their officers.
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"Game design" is an incredibly broad field that likes to include level design, systems design, and story writing (among many others) under its umbrella.

When I think of game designers, though, I think of systems designers: the people who write the specs that get implemented by programmers. And yes, spec-writing is a skill that is used in the greater software industry (these people are sometimes called "systems analysts" or "program managers" or lots of other names) - just look at all of the "design" articles on joelonsoftware! This goes triple for designers who specialize in UI, since the principles of designing a good UI are still largely the same whether you're making a game or a business application. So, yeah, the skills transfer quite nicely.

One caveat: not everyone in the software industry knows what it's like to work in game development. There is still the stigma of "oh, you used to get paid to just sit around and play games all day? We actually do Real Work here" that has to be overcome in some companies, so you may have to convince people that a game developers is actually one of the hardest workers and most skilled labor they are likely to find. This might mean, for example, carefully crafting your resume and cover letter to focus on job responsibilities that sync well with a given posting, and downplaying the "games" aspect.

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Great point... I am going to have to look into systems analysts, but don't you have to be a good programmer to do that? –  Ecurbed Apr 21 '11 at 1:15
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I am in a very similiar situation regarding occupation. In my opinion, I believe Architecture (Which in itself is a very broad subject containing many practical fields.) is a really nice choice for you. That is if you want to apply yourself to real world principles. Architecture is used in housing, landscaping, large scale city projects, etc. Now, mabye you think "Oh, but architecture is more hands on and physical and less digital." Not true, Architecture nowadays uses CAD programs for modeling ideas and projects. Not to mention you also make 2D drafts.

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Nice suggestion! This sounds great but it looks like I may have to go back to school for Architecture, unless you feel I can compete with just knowing CAD. Is there a specific CAD you recommend? –  Ecurbed Apr 11 '11 at 21:28
    
AutoCAD and Architectural Desktop are the standard tools. Throw in some 3DMax/3DViz for doing renderings. –  BlueSixty Apr 11 '11 at 22:01
    
Well, if you want my opinion. I say you should go back to school, if you have the resources, and are positive it is a field you want to go into. Because without experiance in what you are trying to do, it can be really hard to get a job. If you just want to try it out, look at BlueSixty's post. –  SFloyd Apr 11 '11 at 22:58
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