Video games: A growing career for women

Orlando boasts one of the top game design schools in U.S.

Author: Matt Papaycik, Producer, mpapaycik@wkmg.com
Published On: May 29 2013 11:14:18 PM EDT   Updated On: May 29 2013 11:44:39 PM EDT
technology-board
ORLANDO, Fla. -

The latest numbers show that more than 75,000 people are out of work in Central Florida.

For a long time, tourism and health care have been the top places to find a job here. But now, a surprising field in our area is putting more women to work -- video games.

In fact, one of the top video game design schools in the country is based in Downtown Orlando. It's called the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, or FIEA.

"This is like a full-time job for them," says Todd Deery, the admissions director at FIEA. "They learn the whole process of how to develop games, from concept to completion."

Deery says that he's impressed because some of the main designers of video games at FIEA are women.

"There are more women coming into the industry," says Deery. "As more females play video games, I am certainly seeing more interest from women in that as a career."

The latest numbers back that up. 47 percent of gamers in America are female. And Deery says that a big reason for that is the explosion of games for your smartphone.

"You might be playing a game like Words With Friends, and you might be playing for five minutes while you're waiting in line at the checkout counter," says Deery.

At FIEA, grad students learn everything -- not only how to design a game, but also how to market and sell it.

That means, Deery says, you can break into this business no matter what your background is.

"We see a lot of English majors, mass communication majors, increasingly a lot of business majors," says Deery. "Because for producers they have a creative role, as well as a management role."

Jennifer Melnick has taken on both of those responsibilities. She's the lead artist on a game called "Pitch Jumper," and says the teamwork and problem solving make this an ideal career for women.

"It provides you so many opportunities to express yourself artistically and creatively," says Melnick. "I feel like you're going to have a whole wave of women coming in."

The program at FIEA runs 16 months and grads there have gotten jobs, not only at video game companies, but at ad agencies, film studios and TV networks.

To learn more about the school, including how to enroll, click here.