Esports are on the rise, but without game studios where games are created, they would be like hockey players without winter halls.
In the Czech Republic, game studios are at a world-class level, and getting a job as a game designer at Bohemia Interactive or SCS Software sounds like a dream. But it is not that easy, although Czech game studios desperately need people.
Data from the labor market, as well as the voices of experts, confirm that steaming all night on the computer does not make anyone an expert in the field of computer game development. It requires experience working in information technology and an education in computer science.
The gaming industry, in fact the entire IT sector, as well as traditional technology companies, are facing a shortage of experts. According to the founder of Bohemia Interactive Marko Španěl, the concerns of the gaming industry are not particularly different from other industries. “It’s a problem for the entire IT sector and, in fact, for all specialized fields that require technical, precisely oriented education,” says the man who was behind the creation of one of the most successful game studios ever created in the Czech Republic.
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The chairman of the Association of Czech Game Developers, Pavel Barák, agrees with this: “The development of computer games also needs creative or directly artistic workers, but they must also be proficient in the use of information technology. Without a good foundation, which can be obtained primarily at technically oriented secondary schools and subsequently universities, you simply will not get the hang of a game studio.”
Where does the road to the game studio lead?
Study game majors already in high school. Find the area that interests you the most (e.g. 3D graphics, animation, design, scripting, low-level programming) and start focusing on it at school.
Don’t underestimate self-study. You won’t learn everything at school, but there are plenty of materials, resources and instructions for self-study on the Internet. Don’t be afraid of new challenges, don’t be afraid to try.
Learn English. Most companies are switching to English as their primary company language. In addition, it opens the door for application abroad.
Communicate, work in a team, inspire each other. Game development is a team effort, so the ability to collaborate and communicate is important.
Play computer games. The game studio will always be happy if you are a fan of their work.
And don’t be afraid to start in a game studio in less qualified positions, it is always possible to grow your career within the company.
Source: Pavel Barák, GDA.CZ
In a survey conducted by the Association of Czech Game Developers in companies focused on the development of computer games, only 20.4 percent of respondents stated that they had completed a formal university education with a focus on game development. The vast majority of game developers acquired the necessary knowledge on the Internet (67.7%) and from their colleagues in the industry (63.7%).
At the same time, in recent years, study fields focused directly on the creation of computer games have been created at universities. From autumn 2019, it is possible to study the field of computer game development at the Faculty of Informatics of Masaryk University, A game media studio exists at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Brno BUT, Charles University, Czech Technical University in Prague and even the Academy of Performing Arts also have game courses. According to the Archive of Czechoslovak Games and Developers, which provides relatively detailed information about the Czech gaming environment on visiongame.cz, it is currently possible to study computer game creation in 18 study programs at universities and higher vocational schools in the Czech Republic.
Secondary schools are not left out either. An example is the private high school Klíč in Česká Lípa. In the spring of 2024, students in the field of 3D graphics and computer games will go to graduation here for the first time.
Unfortunately, schools do not “produce” nearly as many graduates as there are currently vacant positions in game companies. For an idea – studying the development of computer games at the MUNI Department of Visual Informatics every year five to ten students graduate successfully. And last year, according to the cited survey, Czech game studios created 500 new jobs.
According to data from StartupJobs, a job portal where traditionally (but not only) job supply and demand in the IT field meet, interest in working in game studios is growing. In 2022, companies advertised 165 job positions here, but 738 job seekers already presented their services or interest in work here. “Here at StartupJobs, interested parties are actually just discovering this specific field, we rather bring new people into it,” StartupJobs founder Filip Mikschik puts the numbers into context. According to him, there aren’t that many gamers on the job market, the Czech gaming environment is a specific community, so many people who want to join it, in many cases go directly to the game studio that interests them. They are not offered through job servers or HR agencies.
|Working in the gaming industry||2019||2020||2021||2022||3rd quarter 2023|
|Demand for workers||90||136||165||17|
This fact also confirms that interest in working in the game industry continues to grow. If in 2021 the StartupJobs portal registered only 0.9 candidates for one job offer, in the last three months there have already been 22 candidates for one job offer.
“But it could also be reflected in the influx of Ukrainians, for whom the game industry is interesting, for example, because they don’t have to know Czech. In Ukraine, as well as in Russia or Belarus, people working in this industry are no worse than in the Czech Republic,” pointed out the chairman of the Association of Czech Game Developers.
Interest in working in the game industry is certainly motivated by an interesting financial reward. “Salaries in the gaming industry are similar to other IT industries, although fields such as web development, artificial intelligence or data analysis still have the upper hand. Depending on the level of experience, skills or managerial position, salaries in IT vary widely from 40 to 400 thousand per month,” says Jiří Halbrštát, manager of recruitment and marketing at ManpowerGroup. According to the Association of Czech Game Developers, programmers and graphic designers are the most in demand, followed closely by animators and game designers on the list of wanted workers.
In addition to the small number of graduates, Marek Španěl considers the lack of connection between study and practice to be a weak point of education at Czech universities. “I have the feeling that the Czech academic world does not quite meet the requirements of practice, i.e. companies operating in the IT environment. We have experience with people who received such a focused education in the Benelux countries. And there the connection to the commercial sphere is quite clear. Linking studies with practice in IT companies is a completely normal and not negligible part of that study,” says Španěl. At the same time, he emphasizes the need to engage students in an attractive way to work in functioning companies, for which the challenge is to motivate graduates for further cooperation. He does not see the current trend of founding ever new startups, whose chances of longer existence are mostly minimal, as completely happy.
Jiří Chmelík, assistant professor at the Department of Visual Informatics at Masaryk University in Brno, does not see the situation so badly in this direction and defends schools, at least his home Masaryk University: “We cooperate with a number of larger and smaller game studios, primarily from Brno and the surrounding area, for example with Hangar 13 or Ingame Studios. Developers from game studios pass on their experience to students in invited lectures and panel discussions that we organize. Game studios also list vacancies for internships.
According to Pavel Barák, it is good to start preparing for a career in the game industry as early as possible, i.e. at least in high school. However, the sooner a student begins to acquire truly valued prerequisites for this type of work, the less he should specialize. According to Barák, the most valuable thing is to acquire a good foundation in informatics: “Even at the secondary school level, game fields are now being created, which may be partly the school’s need to interest future students. It’s good, even if, for example, not so much of game development appears in the teaching itself. If young people get to know that environment in an attractive way, they acquire a relationship with information technology, learn the basics of programming and receive a quality foundation on which to build further education.”
Marek Španěl basically confirms his words. At Bohemia Interactive, they say that they do not place as much emphasis on formal education for new employees as on how well the potential job applicant fits into the existing team. “Given how quickly this field is developing, I don’t consider any specialization in game development to be necessary. I actually see her as quite problematic. On the contrary, I see a degree in computer science as a plus, but also another technically oriented field with an emphasis on working with computers,” says Španěl.
Mathematics is eternal. If we abandon the idea of matriculation in mathematics, because too many students would no longer be able to do it, then there is logically nothing to gain from universities. And if we decided at the same time that 70 percent of people should study at university, then the quality of education naturally goes down.
According to the interviewed experts, the importance of information technology in our lives and how quickly society is changing should be reflected in the content of the curriculum already in primary schools. If music lessons are added to the curriculum instead of mathematics, physics and informatics, it will not only be the game industry that will have problems, which is a sector that is growing by leaps and bounds, but is still insignificant in the macroeconomic context.
Czech game studios currently employ around two and a half thousand people, but every third worker here is a foreigner. In 2020 and 2021, Czech companies operating in the game industry earned almost four billion crowns, the turnover of game studios increased by 33 percent year-on-year during this period. In 2022, the turnover of the Czech gaming industry should be around 7.5 billion crowns, new data will be available in December.