It may seem like the only way to make money playing video games is to spend hours in a darkened room, playing endless games of the latest and greatest and landing a gig at EA Sports. Video game testers or developers often seem like jobs not meant for candidates with plans to work in national security. However, that’s not the case at all. In national security, you can use your clearance, education, and gaming experience to have a major impact on military training. 

Live training events are costly and can be dangerous. The ability to train on a simulator or practice decision making skills with a video game is a benefit to the readiness of the military. The defense industry needs gamers. 

Where to Start in the DOD Gaming Industry

Candidates who want to be a video game developer will find it best to start with a degree in computer programming. You also can check out video game design schools or select a college or university that offers it as a program – there are plenty of them out there. Along with a passion for video games, you’ll need coding skills and experience working with 3D modeling and basic physics. What you focus on in school will also depend on what you want to do. If you want to work in video game art, focus your skills more on the creative side, whether it/s actual art or sound design. If you want to write scripts, storylines, bios for characters, work on your writing skills.

Most jobs under the video game umbrella fall into three main categories: Artist, Designer, and Programmer. 

  1. Game artists design the characters and how they look or what they wear. They also design the environment, any weapons or vehicles, making sure designs fit with the art style
  2. Game designers focus on the big picture things, like writing the story line, dialogue, creating puzzles and challenges/mini games. Sometimes, instructional designers with a math or science background and a passion for gaming can fill this type of role – especially in the training world. 
  3. Game programmers are the ones doing all the coding and making sure everything works properly. The team also needs to work together on testing the system – this is where that love of gaming really pays off. You can actually say that you get paid to play games!

Video Games Play a Key Role in Training

Video gaming plays a vital role in the U.S. military’s readiness. Many national security contractors have a need for video game developers to play a role in the different aspects of game creation. As video games grow more complex, more people are needed to work on them, which means that new opportunities will be out there in this field. So, take your love of gaming and your clearance, and get paid to do something you love – all while supporting national security.  


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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.