As an educator, staying current with the state of the job market and its future is obviously critical. Based on my years in the business world and my ongoing research, I can confidently say that producing games, gamified systems, and interactive media, in general for online are where most of the opportunities will be.
Designing Gamified Systems for Businesses:
“Gamification” Defined:Wikipedia defines gamification as, “the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems. Gamification has been studied and applied in several domains, with some of the main purposes being to engage teach (in classrooms, the public or at work), entertain (enjoyment, fan loyalty), measure (for recruiting and employee evaluation), and to improve the perceived ease of use of information systems.
The “X” and “Z” generations understand well how engaging games are. I’m interested in why that is. What makes games fun and “addictive?” I want to know more about the companies already incorporating game mechanics into their marketing and human resource divisions and then turn around and pass these insights onto my students. I see great financial potential in incorporating game mechanics in education specifically, and other areas that I have a personal interest in, like art-making. Jane McGonigal, the author of “Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World” was my main go-to author, when it came to this subject. Not nearly as in-depth but also a worthy read, was “For the Win” by Kevin Werbach. Kevin talks about how businesses are cashing-in on “gamification” by infusing successful game mechanics in their day-to-day business operations and marketing plans. In addition to these authors’ books, the internet is rich with information and examples on this significant cultural and economic evolutionary development. Hence, those with 3D art and interactive media production experience have a prime opportunity to claim a piece of the pie as more and more enterprises start to implement gamification into their companies with the help of those who posses the necessary skills.
Creating Online Media for Businesses:
Not having the safety-net of someone to financially support me upon my graduation from college, many years ago, makes me especially concerned in seeing that my students are employable immediately after graduation. The truth is, the bar has been raised greatly for how proficient a 3D artist must be in order to land their first in-house job. Less than 20 years ago, you could not even learn digital 3D art skills in school, nor earn a college degrees in the field because the programs were not yet in existence. Now, there are hundreds of colleges that offer Bachelors of Fine Arts and Masters of Fine Arts degrees in 3D modeling and animation. Consequently, I make it a point to teach my students certain things that I like to refer to as, “bread & butter” skills. In my day, the bread & butter skill was using Quark Express and Adobe Photoshop™, plus understanding and applying the established principles of design for magazine and catalog layout, and print advertising. I was an illustration major. Graphic Design was not my main interest. However, the field of illustration was (and is) highly competitive! Very few graduates go out and manage to make a living wage as an illustrator! Those who do successfully establish themselves, usually do so after three to five years. Jobs in graphic production were plentiful and served to sustain me and other illustrators while we continued to make connections and hone our portfolios for the more desirable illustration jobs. This draws a parallel to how it is for the 3D artist today. It takes longer to establish oneself as a 3D artist.
Today, artists’ bread & butter skill is knowing how to create a web presence, starting with implementing a content management sytems (CMS). Possessing such know-how is frankly like how knowing how to use Microsoft Office Suite was for the baby-boomer generation.
WordPress is one such CMS that enables the individual to create websites with relative ease. the site can be quite simple, but has virtually endless expansion options with its open source plugin development community. Every individual and every company must have a web presence created and maintained. My students learn to create a website portfolio in the capstone class, “Art 167 3D Commercial Applications”. Inadvertently, they learn a skill that not only is necessary in order to land their entry-level job as a 3D artist but also can be utilized as a marketable skill in itself.
Internet Marketing Know-how
1) Be found: Being found through a Google-search is truly the key for the survival of a business or a professional. Knowledge of how to market oneself is crucial in order to find that first job or customer and beyond. The internet is the most powerful tool ever invented to help people market themselves and products. Consequently, I spent time learning how to be found on the internet, as well as how to establish oneself as an expert and/or desirable candidate for employment in one’s chosen field. This led me to learn about how search engines work (Search Engine Optimization, a.k.a. SEO). Simply stated, there are a number of things one can do to more easily be found. In the capstone class, we look at other artist’s web presence and analysis how and what they did to make it easy to find them.
2) Be “known” and perceived as knowledgeable: It goes without saying that showcasing a portfolio that demonstrates a desired level of proficiency as a 3D artist is fundamental. However, just being proficient is often not enough. You have to be “known”. When I say that you have to be “known”, I’m not suggesting that only those who are your friends will hire you. What I’m saying is that people do not like to hire “strangers”. Meeting and mingling with people in-person at users-groups, conferences and mixers is definitely the ideal setting to break the ice and get to know people. If you are friendly, have the necessary skills and are pleasant to be around, when people you meet need help with a project they are more likely to call you rather than someone they have never seen or heard of because they feel they know you. But these days, with the internet, you have the opportunity to allow people to “get to know you” by posting a video of yourself discussing a topic of interest to your target audience. You can do a similar thing with text and photos. Making a “how to video”, posting written tutorials with a likable photo of oneself, helping others on important online community sites and by generally, placing abundant, regularly updated and relevant information all over the web is the key! The main sites to be seen and heard on include: LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and trade websites, many of which let you post a photo and a blurb about yourself. Lastly, add a link to these sites onto your website! In conclusion, incorporating these tools into your “web presence campaign” will surly pay-off sooner or later, and is an invaluable service that you can provide to others as an income-earning venture.
Two hot ideas for earning money as a 3D artist right now, with little experience:
1) Make a Game!
The “Gold Rush” is on! The number of successful Indie game releases is growing yearly!
It is now possible for a “non-computer programmer” and a very small team of “friends” to make a game using the new time-saving tools and visual scripting. Yes, it’s true! You can make millions from one little game – many people have! If your game never makes you rich, you will in the least, be more marketable. At the conclusion of making your game, you could be the next game-maker/artist for another person’s “big idea”!
2) Make Art Assets (in the comfort of your own home) for the Unity Asset store and others like it. No previous professional experience required!
This year, while in Canada at the Unity game conference, I met Caitlyn Meeks-Ferragallo, global manager for the relatively new Unity Asset Store for Unity Technologies. Caitlyn informed me of the real, honest-to-goodness opportunity for 3D artists to earn full-time wages making simple props, environments and characters for the Asset Store. The artists simply upload their models onto the Asset Store, then they will earn a generous percentage every time someone buys it off the site. Since the Unity Asset Store is fairly new, the site is not over-populated with models to buy. This makes the odds higher of your assets being seen. Just log-in and look around at the inventory to learn about all of the props and environments that game makers are likely to buy for their up and coming game. With the “Indie game gold rush” just beginning, the growth-potential is sure to be solid. Furthermore, you do not need to be an established game artist. They only care that your models are prepared correctly for the game engine.Next > Research Projects