When Play Means Pay: Video Game Jobs On The Rise Employment in the video game industry is rapidly expanding as people turn to mobile devices and social networking sites for entertainment. Colleges around the country are tuned in, offering courses or degrees for many people who grew up playing games on computers and consoles.

When Play Means Pay: Video Game Jobs On The Rise

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Unidentified Man: These experiments. Don't be a damned fool.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "FALLOUT 3")

JOSHUA BROCKMAN: Unidentified Woman: Happy birthday. Can you believe it? He is growing up so fast.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "FALLOUT 3")

BROCKMAN: The company - a division of ZeniMax Media - is also having a teenage growth spurt of its own. Todd Howard.

HOWARD: For our company, there are certain areas we're hiring very aggressively 'cause we are growing rapidly.

BROCKMAN: And the entire video game universe is maturing. Drew Davidson is the director of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University.

DREW DAVIDSON: I'd say game industries are sort of coming out of their adolescence. You know, they're in their late teens and so there's still a lot of growing to do.

BROCKMAN: Davidson says colleges around the country are tuned in.

DAVIDSON: We're seeing a huge upswing in terms of universities trying to offer degrees that focus around games or interactive media. The why is just because they're so popular.

BROCKMAN: More than 200 institutions from MIT to DigiPen Institute of Technology are offering courses or degrees in video games. Michael Gallagher heads the Entertainment Software Association, a trade group for the video game industry.

MICHAEL GALLAGHER: The U.S. is the number one video game market in the world. So, here at home we have a very strong market for employment in video games.

BROCKMAN: And that market is growing because of mainstream demand. Just look around - you can see people of all ages playing games on mobile phones. Social networking games are also wildly popular on Facebook. Todd Howard of Bethesda Softworks says people also want jobs in the video game industry, because a day at the office is casual, not corporate.

HOWARD: Sometimes I equate it to an organized fraternity. We play games at lunch, we have a giant movie theater in the building, we have a pool table, we have multiple video game setups.

BROCKMAN: They also have their own chef. So, employees effectively live at the office. It's an industry that values creative collaborations between artists, designers and programmers. The majority of jobs are full time with benefits, and it's a fluid career with people moving across the country, or the world, to take on new projects. But recruiter Mary-Margaret Walker says these patterns may change.

MARY: I think we will see more consulting and more contracting and more virtual working.

BROCKMAN: That means development teams may no longer work and play in the same physical space.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME)

BROCKMAN: Back in Todd Howard's office at Bethesda Softworks, he's got both hands on the wheel - I mean the Xbox 360.

HOWARD: The greatest feeling in the world is making a game and then going to the store and seeing somebody buy it. It's very special.

BROCKMAN: Joshua Brockman, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Unidentified Man: For at least the last 50 years or so, every time there's been a slowdown, the businesses have expanded in its wake and indeed have way exceeded what the businesses were at before.

INSKEEP: The financial sector tomorrow.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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