Video gaming has evolved into the one of the world’s premier entertainment industries. What does this mean for IT candidates in 2016?


In comparison to most forms of media, video games are still are a relative newcomer. However, while many may dispute their viability as an art form or even just a hobby, few can argue with their rampant commercial success.

Market research firm Newzoo believes the industry as whole will top the US$100 billion dollar mark by the end of 2017, cementing it as a dominant force in the global entertainment market.

With these forecasts confirming the health of the industry, it represents a valuable point of interest for the next generation of IT candidates, or for those looking to make a career change into a growing industry.

As video games demand a range of different skills and expertise spread across a range of platforms, there is a wide variety of positions for people to set their sights on. On top this, the industry has already started 2016 with a bang, as the Oculus Rift, a product set to bring virtual reality to the masses, is ready for distribution.

Decades of dreaming becomes a reality

The future predicted by a number of classic sci-fi films is slowly moving from fiction to fact, with technology evolving at a pace that seems to increase by the year. The latest example of this is the Oculus Rift, one of the first major virtual reality headsets that will let gamers the world over get closer to the action than ever before.

While gaming technology has evolved incrementally over the past decades, most developments have still stuck to the format of a PC or console connected to a traditional screen. In this regard, the Oculus Rift marks the first major shift in what this technology can achieve.

It’s unlikely to be yet another passing gimmick for the industry. The company’s successful Kickstarter campaign and early prototypes were met with positive feedback from early adopters, generating much excitement in the gaming community.

On top of this, Oculus is well-supported in terms of both talent and finances. Facebook purchased Oculus, representing a notable vote of confidence for its successful future. Oculus also has one of the most famous video game developers on its staff.

Legendary developer John Carmack made his name as a vital member of id Software, the company that took the ’90s by storm with best-sellers Doom and Quake. With both titles selling millions of copies, the games were a valuable forecast of just how big the industry could grow.

What’s the industry like in Australia?

With gaming’s multi-billion dollar expansion onto mobile platforms, where games like Candy Crush dominate the charts, the barriers to entry have been significantly lowered. Historically, developing titles for consoles like the Xbox One and Playstation 4 has been expensive, limiting these platforms to established companies.

Although these games are the equivalent to big budget Hollywood movies and demand teams of hundreds of people, there’s an easier way for budding IT graduates to make a name for themselves in the industry. Mobile gaming is an inexpensive way for people to learn the craft, and with Newzoo reporting gaming on these devices accounts for $30 billion worth of revenue in the current market, it’s just as lucrative.

Australians have a number of paths to gain experience, with the Australian STEM Video Game Challenge allowing software developers to test their skills and collaborate with their peers.

The initiative runs from April to August this year and is specifically targeted at getting the country’s students to create and develop a fully functioning video game. The challenge is open to school students from years 5 to 12 and is intended to allow them to learn STEM skills in a context that is equal parts fun and challenging.

How else will gaming change in 2016?

Oculus Rift’s Q1 debut means it’s likely to be a significant focus for the industry over 2016. Coupled with the hype surrounding the product, it’s unlikely to be usurped by any other emerging trends.

Despite this, there are a number of other developments that are likely to be just as important to passionate developers looking to make a start in the industry.

Alternate reality games are also slowly growing their status, representing an interesting complement to the many upcoming games prepared for the Oculus Rift. One of the more popular games which could be the killer app for this category is Pokemon Go, a game which will allow players to catch the titular creatures by taking pictures of real-world locations using their smartphones.

With Google Trends revealing this was one of the most-searched games of last year, it’s likely to be an important link between established franchises, mobile gaming and augmented reality products.

IT candidates looking make a break into the video games industry in 2016 have a number of exciting developments to look forward to, and should have a stable career no matter which path they choose.