ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.10 - JANUARY 2000
It's Time To Take Gaming Seriously
by Jacquie Kubin
It all started in 1972 when Nolan Bushnell at Atari created the two lines and a dot, Pong, that fostered the electronic gaming industry. That arcade game led to General Instruments creating a minute computer chip that allowed the arcade favorite to be played on consoles at home.
What followed were early pioneers such as Coleco, Radio Shack and Magnavox, but their games all had more to do with left brain programming than the right brain artistic creativity required to make a video game a million unit seller today.
Games like Shenmue aren't like your daddy's two-bit Pong. © Sega Entertainment.
It's Big...Really Big
Releasing more than twenty-five hundred arcade, platform, computer and on-line games per year, this industry represents a new outlet for experienced and novice animators alike as the development of interactive games has emerged as a more than seven billion dollar per year industry.
"There is a tremendous demand for quality talent and with more than 2,500 various games being developed every year there are tremendous opportunities for animators," states Doug Lowenstein, President of the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA). "Everyone is looking for that extra advantage to put them ahead in a competitive market and that often relies on the creative side -- the qualities of the animation, sound, and look and feel of the game."
With an eye toward working in feature films or television, many animators may overlook this lucrative industry -- which may be a mistake when compared to the film industry. Nineteen ninety-eight box office receipts grew by a modest 9.2 percent (source: MPAA), while the video and computer game industry grew more than 25 percent (source: IDSA). Furthermore where the feature film studios released 509 theatrical films in the U.S. (1998: MPAA), the video gaming industry sold more than 181 million units during that same year (Source: IDSA).
In 1997, Mario Kart 64 for the Nintendo 64 system grossed $131 million, more than that year's box office takes of top ten hits Good Will Hunting ($130 million), As Good As It Gets ($130 million) and My Best Friend's Wedding ($127 million), according to reports of the IDSA.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
Opportunities exist both domestically and abroad with almost fifty development companies offering third party support to the big three game console creators -- Sony, Nintendo and Sega systems. This already successful industry is poised for greater heights and revenues with the advent of the Sega DreamCast, Playstation II, Nintendo Dolphin and DVD console games.
Experienced and novice animators may feel that a lack of game playing or computer experience precludes their entry into this lucrative new job market, but this is not so according to three industry leaders -- game developers Acclaim Studios, Disney Interactive and Sega.
Note: Readers may contact any Animation World Magazine contributor by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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