The Future is Bright for Digital Artists

The website, gamedevmap.com lists nearly 500 video game companies in California and over 1200 nation-wide.  Fortune.com states that the industry was up in sales 5% in 2015, from one year ago, hitting 23.5 billion, and Venturebeat.com reports that the U.S. game industry is forecast to grow 30 percent by 2019.

Yes, the future is bright for digital artists working in the video game industry! In fact, it has never been brighter. Constructs that made it necessary for an artist to be an “employee”, in order to make a living are evaporating. Such developments are so new that many digital artists are still not aware that a new paradigm exists! Today, even one individual can “set up shop” to develop game art assets, and then choose from one of the many digital distribution platforms to sell their “goods” to the buying public. I am told that many established 3D artists are developing game art assets for various distribution portals, on the side, while working full-time as an employee for a game company. Both have testified that they are earning equal to, or more than, what they earn at their full-time jobs!

In addition, an extremely exciting technological advancement is expanding the opportunities for digital artists even further. Software programs, like GameSalad, allow the user to create complete games, without computer programming know-how! Hence, an artist no longer needs to wait to be hired by a company or a programmer in order to work in the game development industry. By utilizing such ground breaking software tools, an artist who possesses, at least, a fundamental knowledge of game art skills, like a student graduating in good standing from say, Santa Ana College’s 3D Modeling & Animation Certificate Program,  can engage in income earning endeavors as an independent game developer, with a team or by themselves!  And through a digital distribution channel, like Steam, the indie game developer can make their games available for sale to the entire world, and while keeping a much greater percentage of the profits compared to the traditional distribution methods.

Santa Ana College’s 3D Modeling and Animation Program have adapted GameSalad into the curriculum of the course, “Art180 Game & Interactive Media Art Production”. In the first half of the course, students use GameSalad in learning how to develop art assets for a 2D game platform. In the second half of the course students proceed to learn how to develop art assets for 3D games, with the Unity game engine. During this second half of the course, students are, also acquainted with software innovations that allow for the programming of 3D games with much more ease. While the focus is still largely placed on teaching the students how to develop quality art assets for games, the time spent orienting the artists to how they might develop a game entirely by themselves is empowering, and ground breaking.

However, there are limitations to the types of games that one could create by utilizing such software. In fact, the artist who wishes to be truly liberated, must break through and learn how to write computer code. As Bill Gates has said, “Not knowing how to read and write code in the 21st century can be compared to not knowing how to read in our last century.” While this statement is probably inaccurate for all citizens, for the digital 3d/multimedia artist, I believe it to be true!

Posted: 2014

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