Testers and designers among those set to adopt specialist skills and be in hot demand among studios
The impact of virtual reality will see the creation of completely new jobs in the development sector, as existing positions expand their skillsets to embrace the nascent medium.
Rebellion CEO and TIGA chair Jason Kingsley tells Develop that the launch of the Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and HTC Vive during 2016 could change the established structure of studios.
“The success of VR might mean new jobs and job titles being created with that are completely unfamiliar to us today, and their skills will be different too,” he predicts. “We’re finding that some people in our QA team, for example, are more comfortable being in VR for longer than others. Is that a ‘skill’ VR games companies will demand or recruit for in the future?”
Katie Goode, creative director at Triangular Pixels, speaks of her own experience making the leap to VR development – and encourages more devs looking for a new role to consider jumping to the platform.
“We wouldn’t have felt the need to leave our safe jobs to do our own thing if VR wasn’t such a promising area,” she recalls. “We knew that it was becoming very hard to get noticed in the mobile and online PC games markets, but if we did something special in VR, that’d give us the edge.”
Kingsley highlights testers and QA workers specialised in VR as an increasing valuable commodity as more titles adapt to the unfamiliar technology.
“We need people we currently call ‘canaries’,” he explains. “These are game testers who seem to be particularly sensitive to projection errors in 3D, and we need them because they help make VR projects more comfortable for the end consumer.
“What’s really interesting is what will happen when we’re confident enough not just to make VR games as we do currently, but actually make games in VR the whole time. Will these VR developers have an advantage over or need to think differently to games developers who work off a 2D screen?”
With virtual reality presenting unique challenges for even experienced devs, Goode says that specialised VR skills will help existing creators to exhibit the best of both worlds.
“A ‘VR designer’ seems to be a role now: a person that looks out for users, knows what can cause them to feel uncomfortable, how to make the virtual world feel solid and real and how to draw users’ attention when they can be looking anywhere,” she observes.
“For programmers, companies need their skills of being able to shave off a few milliseconds for a frame, to implement a complex system in an efficient way to run in frame on mobile devices, work with new SDKs and more. Similarly, for audio and visual, there are techniques they need to know.
“To be able to add VR to your CV shows that you can problem-solve, learn and be efficient with your work in pretty much any job role.
“If you are in the games industry at the moment, working on VR and looking to move on, you are in an incredibly strong position to change the industry based on your experience.”
This article is part of our month-long Virtual Reality Special. You can find more VR content here.