Competence profiles in the games industry

The global market for games is on the upswing; in 2017, a total of 97 billion euros in turnover is expected (source: McKinsey). Accordingly, the games industry is developing a growing demand for highly qualified experts - in all areas. In order to ensure sustainable and needs-based qualification for the various occupational fields in games development, however, it must be clear which fields of work exist at all and which competences are required for the respective activities.

As part of a preliminary study, more than 1,000 job titles were identified in job advertisements in the games industry, from "Ground Breaking Developer" to "Experienced Industry Guru". It is not uncommon to find people with "at least 5 years of practical experience" or "passionate gamers". Many companies develop high-quality games, but they can hardly explain exactly what resources they need to do so.

Up to now, there have been no reliable studies on this, which burdens both training providers and companies and hinders the necessary professionalisation of their personnel and training policies. This is one of the reasons why productivity in the games industry remains in need of improvement, which is also shown by the low wages in some cases.

The skillDAC study therefore aimed to identify the various job titles and the concrete fields of work behind them. In doing so, the work processes and in particular the skills required for this were analysed. For this purpose, the GAME CHANGER Institute conducted in-depth interviews with small to large developers and asked skilled workers and responsible persons about development processes and necessary skills.

The required competences became clear overall in the interviews, but often cannot be directly explicated by the skilled workers: Good design was often a "feeling", a "notion" or a "hunch" based on "experience". It was also striking that more than 90% of the concretely mentioned competences came from the area of "social-communicative", "personal" as well as "activity- and implementation-oriented" competences" (definition according to Erpenbeck and Rosenstiel, 2007). The interviewees rarely mentioned professional-methodical competences. Although the latter are "indispensable", they are less important overall for the long-term performance of employees in the company than interdisciplinary competences.

The results of the skillDAC study allow a deeper insight into the working world of game development, which has been largely unexplored so far. The knowledge about required competences is a good basis for the establishment of competence-oriented personnel management as well as a high-quality orientation of training offers. Accordingly, the findings also flowed into the Bachelor's degree programme in Game Design.

The skillDAC study was funded by the Commission for Research and Young Academics (FNK) at HTW Berlin and conducted between 07/2013 and 06/2014.