This article describes the landscape of Atlanta in regards to gaming technology, the individuals interested in careers in gaming technology, and educational resources available to those individuals wishing to learn more about game design, game programming, and video game testing. A career in the gaming industry would likely be the dream job for many gaming enthusiasts, and thanks to the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act, relocating to Atlanta, GA might be a great career move for these individuals. The legislation, first passed in 2004, gives game design companies incentive to relocate to Georgia by offering a 20% tax credit to companies choosing to make the move. In recent years, Georgia has become one of the top game design locations in the country, and with over 100 companies now established in the city of Atlanta there is a new-found demand for a workforce trained in game design, game programming, and video game testing.
When the career prospects/opportunities in game programming began to increase, industry officials approached Gwinnett Technical College to help them in locating more workers possessing game programming skills. There were already programs focusing on game design being offered at Savannah College of Art and Design and also at the Art Institute of Atlanta, but there were not enough game programmers to create a sufficient and steady supply of jobs for the game designers. As a result, Gwinnett Technical College launched a simulation/game development two-year associate’s program. Parents may feel uneasy at the prospect of their children pursuing a career in gaming, but a spokesperson for Gwinnett is quick to reassure parents that game programming skills aren’t just used for the entertainment industry. There are a wide variety of other practical applications for these skills. For example, the military employs game programmers to create simulators that train personnel in battlefield tactics, tank-driving simulations, and even virtual weapon simulations. The medical industry uses game programming to simulate clinical scenarios for medical staff, and also to simulate pharmaceutical trials before actual live testing begins. Logistics companies also make use of such programming to track drivers, and to inform them of any potential hazards on their route. Gwinnett does, however, warn that students should be passionate about game programming. The course will require superior mathematical skills, and students will need to focus diligently on their work in order to get their head around game programming logic. Students will discover very quickly if game programming is right for them. John Thacher, director of Gwinett’s Computer Sciences program, claims that most of the game programming students are very passionate and curious about gaming. Thacher says, “In other classes, I’ll see students in the back of the room playing tic-tac-toe or texting, but our students are glued to their screens.” The course offers students a very intense learning experience that will prepare them for a career in game development. As the industry continues to grow, many Georgia companies are hiring new game programming and game design staff. While not every graduating student will get a glamorous job working for a video game production company, there are many opportunities available in the industry that can help start new graduates onto the path of a successful career.