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What parents need to know about a career in gaming

person sitting on a gaming chair playing video games

Florian Olivo/Unsplash

Marcia Deakin, Games Partnerships Director at NextGen Skills Academy, offers expert advice on what parents can do if their child is considering a career in gaming.

Some parents may worry that an interest in video games means that their children will waste too much time staring at a screen. I’m here to say that there may be long term benefits to spending time creating worlds in Minecraft or saving humanity (again) as Spiderman.

Why a career in the games industry?

The games sector is home to a wide range of careers, from programming, art, storytelling and sound — to marketing, PR, finance and legal.  

The industry is the unsung hero of the UK’s booming creative industry. For the last 40 years it has been at the forefront of a creative and technological revolution that now sees it firmly established in many of our homes. 

It’s unique in that it encourages its audience not only to consume its product but has many easy entry points by which children can engage and create games of their own, whatever their age.

The industry is growing every year, with over 2000 games companies and 20,000 jobs in 2018 recorded in the UK. With the growth of eSports, Virtual Reality (VR) and social gaming this growth shows no signs of slowing. 

How can I support my child with their interest?

The best way is to encourage your child to make their own games. As your child creates and builds games they learn to think creatively and work collaboratively – these are all great future life skills.   

Scratch is a free website which allows you to program your own interactive stories, games and animations. It’s designed especially for ages 8 to 16, but people of all ages create and share with Scratch. 

If you have younger children you could help them get started with ScratchJr, a simplified version designed for ages 5 to 7. There is a great step-by-step guide to get you started so you don’t have to be an expert yourself. 

Other platforms like GameMaker take away the barriers to getting started with a simple drag and drop system of development which means you can have your first game up and running in a matter of minutes.

Further education

If your child is older and thinking more seriously about a career within the games industry there are great colleges and universities that offer specialist vocational courses which are industry approved. 

NextGen Skills Academy works with employers across games, animation and VFX to approve and support Further Education colleges across England. 

The skills taught are transferable and in demand across the creative sector in the UK’s booming animation, film and VFX industry. They are also sought after in traditional industries such as architecture, finance, the automotive and retail sectors.  

For older children that may already be thinking more seriously about their career choices ScreenSkills have put together a great resource to show some of the different jobs available. 

Top tips from Parent Zone 

Show an interest

Take the time to ask your child about what they are playing and which games they enjoy and why. Your child will find it encouraging and supportive if you show an active interest in their hobbies.

Set clear boundaries and stick to them

Your child needs to know what the boundaries are and why they’re being set. Think about whether the games are age-appropriate and set reasonable time limits for gaming to make sure they have a healthy balance. Younger children in particular need to get enough sleep at night so you’ll need to think about a cut-off time in the evening to ensure this happens. 

Get involved 

Many games are made specifically for families to enjoy so do take some time to explore these with your child. 

Using websites such as Scratch and GameMaker are easy ways for you and your children to learn creative skills and most importantly have fun together.

You could even ask your child to design a level or game for you to explore and test out.

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