2008 was a good year to be in the games industry.
According to the Game Developer magazine's annual Game Developer Salary Survey, the video game industry saw 2008 salaries increase in nearly every position over 2007. The recession has certainly had an impact on the game development field over the last 6-12 months, with more layoffs than you can shake a stick at. But those who survived downsizing or bankruptcy went home with a little extra money in their pocket.
The average 2008 salary of a games industry worker in America was an impressive $79,000, up seven percent from the 2007 average of $74,000.
Business and marketing personnel sat at the top of the heap, bringing home an average of about $102,000. Those who reported that they had six years of experience or more in such roles took home even more -- over $131,000.
Not surprisingly, Quality Assurance employees were the lowest tier in the survey. The unsung heroes of game development took home slightly more than $39,000 a year, with almost no salary growth over 2007. This doesn't come as much of a shock, since 48 percent of testers polled had less than three years experience. The one positive note for testers was the number of female testers, which now make up 14 percent of all surveyed, compared to six percent the year before.
Of course, there are so many other positions in the games industry to consider. Programmers took home $85,000; artists averaged $69,500; game designers raked in $67,000; production averaged $82,000; and audio designers took home about $78,100. Of all the different fields examined, production is the most friendly to women, who account for 21 percent of the field.
While QA/testing saw little to no salary increase, every other position in the games industry did - not bad considering the worldwide recession. With any luck, the next 12-24 months will see this same kind of growth combined with more jobs and new studios.