How to Become a Game Economist (Conquer Virtual Ventures)

how to become a game economist

If you’ve ever dreamed of shaping the virtual economies in video games or wondered what it takes to become a game economist, you’ve navigated to the right place.

In this guide, we’ll navigate through the SPECIFIC steps you need to take to launch your career as a game economist. We’ll discuss:

  • The skills you need.
  • The education that can bolster your journey.
  • How to secure a job as a game economist.

So, whether you’re a gaming enthusiast or a data-driven individual looking to upskill, stay tuned.

We’re about to decode the path to becoming a game economist.

Let’s embark on this journey!

Contents show

Steps to Become a Game Economist


Step 1: Understand the Role of a Game Economist

A game economist’s role is to design, balance and scale the virtual economies of video games.

This involves creating and managing complex economic systems within games, including the creation of virtual goods and services, setting prices, and monitoring and adjusting game economies based on player behavior and feedback.

It also often involves creating and analyzing economic models and using statistical analysis to understand player behavior and predict future trends.

Understanding this role means having a thorough grasp of both economics and video game design.

It’s also important to have a passion for video games, as this will inform your understanding of how players interact with games and what they value within a game’s economy.

You should also be comfortable working with large sets of data and have strong analytical skills, as analyzing player behavior and adjusting game economies based on that analysis is a major part of the job.

Finally, as a game economist, you’ll often work closely with a team of game designers and developers, so strong collaboration and communication skills are also key.


Step 2: Pursue Relevant Education in Economics

To be a successful Game Economist, you must have a strong background in economics.

You can start by obtaining an undergraduate degree in economics or a closely related field.

This will provide you with a solid foundation in economic principles, game theory, and statistical analysis, which are crucial to understand the in-game economies.

Throughout your degree, you’ll study micro and macroeconomics, econometrics, and other relevant subjects.

These courses will help you understand how economies work and how to analyze economic data, which are essential skills for a Game Economist.

After completing your undergraduate degree, consider pursuing further education such as a master’s degree or even a PhD in economics, or a related field such as Game Design with a focus on economy.

These advanced degrees can provide a deeper understanding of complex economic theories and their applications in the gaming world.

You may also want to consider taking courses in computer science or coding as these skills can be beneficial when analyzing data and designing in-game economies.

This relevant education in economics and related fields will equip you with the necessary skills to analyze and design game economies, forecast player behavior, and adjust economic parameters to maintain a balanced and engaging gaming experience.


Step 3: Learn About Game Design and Development

As a game economist, a deep understanding of game design and development is crucial.

You will be in charge of managing the economic systems in games, so it’s important to understand how games are developed and designed.

You should familiarize yourself with different game genres and platforms to understand the various ways that economics can be integrated into games.

You can start by taking courses in game design and development, which are often offered by universities or online learning platforms.

These courses will teach you about the principles of game design, the process of game development, and the role of economics in games.

Look for courses that cover topics like game mechanics, level design, player behavior, and economic modeling.

In addition to formal education, it’s also a good idea to get hands-on experience by developing your own games.

This can be done using game development tools like Unity or Unreal Engine.

Developing your own games will give you practical experience in designing and implementing economic systems.

Also, playing a wide variety of games can provide you with valuable insights into how different games handle their in-game economies.

This can give you ideas for your own work and help you understand what strategies are most effective in different game settings.

Remember, a game economist is not just an economist, but also a game designer and developer.

Therefore, mastering these areas is crucial for your success in this role.


Step 4: Acquire Quantitative Analysis Skills

In the gaming industry, a Game Economist needs to possess strong quantitative analysis skills.

These skills are essential for analyzing and interpreting complex numerical data related to game performance, user behavior, and market trends.

You can acquire these skills through coursework in statistics, economics, finance, or mathematics.

Courses in these subjects often cover the use of statistical analysis software, like SPSS or R, which are widely used in the industry.

Knowledge of these tools will give you an edge in your career as a Game Economist.

In addition to formal education, you can also enhance your quantitative skills through self-study and online courses.

Websites like Coursera, Khan Academy, and edX offer courses in statistics, data analysis, and other relevant subjects.

As a Game Economist, you will use these quantitative analysis skills to make forecasts, model player behavior, and make informed recommendations on game design and monetization strategies.

Therefore, mastering this skill set is a critical step in your career path.


Step 5: Get Familiar With Game Monetization Strategies

As a game economist, one of your main roles will be to understand and create strategies for monetizing games.

This could involve designing in-game economies, setting price points for in-game purchases, or developing strategies for advertising and sponsorship opportunities within the game.

Understanding the psychology of player spending habits and their value perception is crucial in this step.

This involves grasping how players interact with different aspects of the game and what they are willing to pay for certain features or enhancements.

You must analyze player behavior and game data to understand what drives the purchasing decisions of players.

You also need to stay updated with the latest trends in game monetization.

This could include various models like free-to-play with in-app purchases, subscription-based games, ad-supported games, or a combination of these.

Understand the pros and cons of each model and how they can be applied effectively in different types of games.

You can gain this understanding through various resources including books, online courses, webinars, and industry reports.

Additionally, participating in game development forums or communities can also be beneficial as you can learn from the experiences of others in the field.

Lastly, remember that monetization strategies should always aim to enhance the gaming experience, not hinder it.

Poorly designed monetization strategies can lead to player dissatisfaction and eventually, churn.

Therefore, it’s crucial to strike a balance between generating revenue and maintaining player engagement and satisfaction.


Step 6: Develop Proficiency in Economic Modeling and Data Analysis Tools

As a game economist, your role will involve understanding the complex virtual economies that exist within games.

Economic modeling and data analysis are crucial tools for this job.

These models help to predict economic variables and behaviors of in-game players, and to maintain a balanced and enjoyable gaming environment.

Familiarize yourself with various economic modeling techniques, such as regression analysis, game theory, econometrics, and forecasting.

Proficiency in mathematical modeling and statistical analysis is also vital as they form the basis of economic modeling.

Data analysis tools like SQL, Python, R, and Excel are commonly used in this role.

These tools help to sort, analyze, and visualize large datasets.

Learning these tools is a must, as you’ll frequently work with player data to identify trends, create economic forecasts, and make informed decisions about in-game economies.

Moreover, understanding simulation tools can be an added advantage.

They can assist in predicting how changes in the game mechanics might impact the virtual economy.

In addition, you should also keep up to date with the latest developments in the gaming industry.

This can give you insights into emerging trends and how they can be incorporated into your economic models.


Step 7: Build a Portfolio of Economic Designs

As a game economist, it’s essential that you build a portfolio that showcases your ability to design and implement economic systems in a gaming environment.

These could include examples of virtual economies you have created, microtransaction systems you have developed, or how you have balanced in-game currencies for fairness and profitability.

The portfolio should include detailed documentation of your process, including any economic models or theories you’ve applied, how you handled resource distribution, trading systems, and any inflation or deflation mechanisms you have managed.

Make sure to also include how your design decisions impacted player behavior and overall game dynamics.

If you have not had the opportunity to work on an actual game yet, consider creating simulated economies as part of personal projects.

Build a virtual environment, introduce resources, and develop a trading or transaction system.

This not only helps in showcasing your skillset but also displays your creativity and understanding of game mechanics.

Also, consider including any relevant academic or research work you have done in the field of economics, particularly those that can be applied to the gaming industry.

Remember, your portfolio is the perfect opportunity to showcase your economic design skills, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities to potential employers.


Step 8: Gain Experience Through Internships or Projects in Gaming

To develop and hone your skills as a game economist, it is crucial to gain hands-on experience through internships or projects in the gaming industry.

This experience allows you to apply your theoretical knowledge of economics and game design to practical situations and real-world challenges, such as maintaining game economy balance or devising monetization strategies.

Try to secure internships with game development companies where you can work closely with game designers and developers.

Such internships not only provide you a platform to understand the nuances of game economics but also expose you to the broader perspectives of game development.

Another excellent way to gain experience is by getting involved in game projects.

These could be college projects, freelance work, or personal projects where you design and balance the in-game economy of a video game.

This hands-on experience can be highly beneficial when looking for full-time roles as game economist.

Remember, the gaming industry values practical experience, so the more real-world exposure you get, the better your chances of succeeding as a game economist.

You could also consider making a portfolio of your work which showcases your understanding and skill set in game economics.

This will make you stand out to potential employers in the industry.


Step 9: Network with Game Development Professionals

Networking is a crucial part of any career, and this is particularly true for those who aspire to become game economists.

Networking can help you learn about new job opportunities, gain valuable industry insights, and get advice from more experienced professionals.

You can start by connecting with professionals in the game development industry through social media platforms such as LinkedIn. Join industry-related groups and participate in discussions.

Attend game development conferences, trade shows, seminars, and other industry-related events where you can meet professionals and exchange ideas.

These connections can provide valuable advice and feedback on your career path and may also help you find job opportunities.

Additionally, consider joining professional organizations related to game development.

These organizations often host networking events, provide training and education opportunities, and offer resources to help you advance your career as a game economist.

Remember, networking is not just about what you can get from others but also about what you can offer.

Be prepared to share your insights, offer assistance, and contribute to discussions.

This will help you build strong, mutually beneficial relationships within the industry.


Step 10: Stay Up-to-Date with Gaming Trends and Player Behaviors

As a Game Economist, you must continually stay informed about the latest trends in the gaming industry and the evolving behavior of players.

This is crucial because these dynamics directly influence the in-game economies you will be managing.

You can accomplish this by following gaming news outlets, participating in gaming communities, attending gaming conferences, and conducting your own research.

Understanding the different trends in the gaming industry, such as new game mechanics, popular genres, or innovative monetization strategies, will help you design and balance in-game economies that are relevant and attractive to players.

Similarly, being aware of player behaviors will help you understand what players value in a game, what motivates them to engage with the in-game economy, and how they respond to different economic conditions.

This understanding is pivotal in creating an economy that is engaging, fair, and profitable.

In addition to these, it’s also beneficial to keep an eye on the broader economic trends and theories as they can provide valuable insights that can be applied to the in-game economic systems.

Regularly reading economic research papers, journals, or attending economic forums can be helpful in this regard.

Remember, the gaming world moves quickly, and a successful Game Economist should always be ready to adapt and evolve with it.

Your ability to stay current and apply new knowledge to your work will be a key factor in your success in this role.


Step 11: Apply for Positions as a Game Economist

After you have gained the necessary knowledge and have refined your skills, it’s time to start applying for positions as a Game Economist.

Look for opportunities in the gaming industry, where there is a demand for professionals who understand game economies and can help shape game design based on economic principles.

Begin by updating your resume to highlight the skills and experiences that make you a strong candidate for a Game Economist position.

Be sure to showcase your knowledge of game theory, your analytical skills, and any specific experiences you’ve had in designing, implementing, or managing in-game economies.

Take advantage of job search platforms and networking opportunities.

Attend industry events, join online communities, and connect with professionals in the field.

These interactions may provide you with valuable insights, help you keep up to date with the latest trends in the industry, and could potentially lead to job opportunities.

When you find a job listing that suits your skill set and interests, make sure to tailor your application to highlight the most relevant aspects of your background.

Craft a cover letter that shows your understanding of the role and the company’s games, and how you can contribute to the success of their product.

Finally, be prepared for the interview process.

This could involve multiple stages, including initial phone screens, technical assessments, and in-person interviews.

Be ready to discuss your experience, show your enthusiasm for the role, and demonstrate your understanding of game economics.

Remember, it can take time to land the perfect position, so remain patient and persistent in your job search.


Game Economist Roles and Responsibilities

Game Economists use a combination of economic theory, analytical skills, and an understanding of player behavior to create and manage virtual economies within online games.

They focus on designing and optimizing the economic systems to create a balanced, engaging, and profitable game experience.

They have the following roles and responsibilities:


Game Economy Design

  • Create and refine in-game economic models and systems.
  • Analyze player behavior to predict impacts on the game economy.
  • Plan and balance resource distribution, currency systems, pricing, and virtual goods.


Data Analysis

  • Analyze data to understand player behavior and the performance of the game economy.
  • Identify trends and insights from game data to inform design decisions.
  • Use data analysis tools and software to process and interpret large data sets.


Monetization Strategies

  • Develop and implement monetization strategies, such as microtransactions or in-game advertising.
  • Optimize monetization efforts to maximize player engagement and revenue.
  • Balance the need for revenue generation with a positive player experience.


Economy Balancing

  • Monitor and adjust the game economy to ensure balance and fairness.
  • Prevent economic exploits, such as inflation or deflation, that could disrupt the game economy.
  • Adjust game parameters to respond to changes in player behavior or market conditions.



  • Work closely with game designers, developers, and product managers to implement economic systems.
  • Communicate economic concepts and designs to non-economic stakeholders.


Forecasting and Trend Analysis

  • Forecast future trends in the game economy based on current data and player behavior.
  • Identify potential risks and opportunities for the game economy.


Player Experience

  • Ensure the game economy enhances player engagement and satisfaction.
  • Understand player motivations and how economic systems can influence behavior.



  • Create and maintain documentation for game economy designs and decisions.
  • Present reports and findings to the game development team and stakeholders.


Continuous Learning

  • Stay up-to-date with the latest theories and techniques in game economy design.
  • Attend conferences, workshops, and training programs.


What Does a Game Economist Do?

A Game Economist is a professional who applies economic theory and economic modeling techniques to understand and shape the in-game economies of digital games.

They primarily work for video game development companies or as independent consultants.

They create and manage virtual economies, designing the financial systems within games, which include the creation and distribution of virtual goods, currencies, and services.

Their aim is to create a balanced in-game economy that enhances the gameplay experience while also driving revenue.

Game Economists analyze player behavior to understand how they earn and spend within the game.

They use this data to predict trends and identify potential areas for improvement or changes needed within the game economy.

They work closely with game designers, developers, and data analysts to integrate the economic systems seamlessly into the game and ensure they are aligned with the overall game design and objectives.

Game Economists are also responsible for setting the prices of in-game items and managing the inflation and deflation within the game economy.

They may also be involved in devising strategies for monetization, including the development of premium content and microtransactions.

In response to player feedback or changes in player behavior, they may need to adjust the game’s economic elements to ensure player satisfaction and engagement while keeping the game profitable.


Essential Game Economist Skills

  • Economics Knowledge: As a game economist, understanding economic principles, models, and statistical techniques is crucial. This includes understanding of supply and demand, market structures, pricing models, and macroeconomic indicators.
  • Game Theory: A strong understanding of game theory principles and their application to real-world scenarios is necessary. This includes understanding player strategies, payoff matrices, and Nash equilibria.
  • Data Analysis: The ability to analyze and interpret complex data sets is vital for a game economist. This includes using statistical software and data visualization tools, as well as understanding data integrity and data privacy principles.
  • Understanding of Player Behavior: Game economists need to understand player motivations and behavior patterns to design effective economies. This requires expertise in behavioral economics and psychology.
  • Problem Solving: The ability to identify, analyze, and solve problems related to in-game economics is essential. This includes the ability to design and implement effective economic policies within the game’s environment.
  • Programming Skills: Knowledge of programming languages, particularly those used in game development such as C++ or Python, is important. This will allow you to model economic scenarios and implement modifications to the game’s economy.
  • Communication: Effective communication skills are necessary to convey complex economic concepts to team members, stakeholders, and players in an understandable way. This includes both verbal and written communication.
  • Virtual Currency Management: Understanding the intricacies of virtual currency, including generation, distribution, and conversion rates, is critical. This also involves managing inflation and balancing the in-game economy.
  • Game Design: Knowledge of game design principles is essential. This understanding will enable the game economist to effectively balance gameplay elements, making the game enjoyable while maintaining economic viability.
  • Project Management: Game economists often work on complex projects with tight deadlines. Therefore, skills in project management, including task prioritization, time management, and Agile methodologies, are beneficial.
  • Teamwork: Collaboration is essential in a game economist role. They must work effectively within teams, share knowledge, and contribute to collective success.
  • Microtransactions: Understanding the use and impact of microtransactions in the gaming industry is crucial. This involves designing effective microtransaction systems and strategies that benefit the game’s economy and player engagement.
  • Player Retention: Understanding strategies for retaining players and encouraging in-game spending is key. This requires knowledge of player incentives, reward systems, and progression mechanics.
  • Research: Keeping up-to-date with the latest research and trends in the gaming and economic fields is important. This includes conducting your own research to improve the game’s economy.
  • Creativity: Balancing a game’s economy often requires innovative solutions. Creative thinking can lead to unique approaches and effective problem-solving.


Game Economist Career Path Progression

The Foundation: Junior Game Economist

The path of a Game Economist often starts as a Junior Game Economist.

At this stage, you’re learning the ropes and gaining a deep understanding of game economies.

Your tasks may include performing data analysis, developing pricing strategies for virtual goods, and assisting in the design of game currencies.

Here are some tips to succeed in this role:

  1. Master the Basics: Understand the fundamentals of economics and how they apply to game economies.
  2. Learn Continuously: Stay informed about the latest trends and developments in the gaming industry.
  3. Analytical Thinking: Develop strong analytical skills to interpret complex data and identify trends.


The Ascent: Game Economist

With experience and confidence, you’ll progress to the role of a Game Economist.

You’ll have more responsibilities, including designing complex game economies, modeling player behavior, and balancing resource flows.

Here’s how to thrive in this stage:

  1. Design Skills: Improve your economy design skills by studying successful games and experimenting with your designs.
  2. Communication: Be able to effectively communicate your ideas and findings to both technical and non-technical team members.
  3. Problem Solving: Be ready to solve complex economic problems and make decisions based on data analysis.


Reaching New Heights: Senior Game Economist

The next level is the Senior Game Economist position.

In this role, you’re recognized for your expertise and leadership.

You may lead game economy design, mentor junior colleagues, and make key decisions that impact the overall game economy.

To excel as a Senior Game Economist:

  1. Mentorship: Share your knowledge and experience with junior colleagues to help them grow.
  2. Strategic Thinking: Consider the broader implications of your economic designs and decisions on the game’s success.
  3. Leadership: Lead by example and inspire your team with your work ethic and problem-solving skills.


Beyond the Horizon: Lead Roles and Beyond

As your career advances, you may choose to specialize in a particular area or take on leadership roles such as Principal Game Economist, Game Economy Director, or Head of Monetization.

These roles involve greater responsibilities, leadership, and strategic decision-making.

Here’s what to focus on:

  1. Technical Leadership: Drive the creation and implementation of game economies and monetization strategies.
  2. Management Skills: Develop strong leadership skills to guide your team effectively and make high-level strategic decisions.
  3. Innovation: Stay ahead of industry trends and innovate to create engaging and balanced game economies.


Pinnacle of Success: Chief Economist or VP of Monetization

At the apex of the Game Economist career ladder, you may find roles like Chief Economist or VP of Monetization.

In these positions, you’ll shape the overall economy strategy for multiple games, make critical decisions, and lead larger teams.

You’ll be instrumental in driving the financial success of the game company while ensuring player satisfaction.


Game Economist Salary

Entry-Level Game Economist

  • Median Salary: $60,000 – $85,000 per year
  • Entry-level game economists typically have 0-2 years of experience and hold degrees in economics or related fields. They are primarily responsible for analyzing in-game economy, offering insights, and making recommendations.


Mid-Level Game Economist

  • Median Salary: $85,000 – $120,000 per year
  • Mid-level game economists usually have 2-5 years of experience. They take on more complex responsibilities such as designing, implementing and tuning in-game economies to ensure balance and player satisfaction.


Senior Game Economist

  • Median Salary: $120,000 – $165,000 per year
  • Senior game economists have over 5 years of experience and are responsible for leading the design and management of multiple in-game economies, mentoring junior economists and making critical decisions.


Lead Game Economist

  • Median Salary: $160,000 – $220,000+ per year
  • Lead game economists come with significant experience and knowledge. They are responsible for overall strategic decisions regarding in-game economics, and often lead teams of economists and data analysts.


Director of Game Economics

  • Median Salary: $200,000 – $300,000+ per year
  • These high-level roles require vast experience, deep understanding of economics and game design. They are responsible for setting the strategy for in-game economics and overseeing all economic aspects across a studio or company’s game portfolio.


Game Economist Work Environment

Game Economists typically work within the vibrant and fast-paced environment of the gaming industry, often working for game developers, publishers, or gaming consultancy firms.

Their work environment is usually office-based, however, with the rise of remote working, many game economists now have the flexibility to work from home or anywhere with a stable internet connection.

The nature of their work requires constant collaboration with game designers, developers, and project managers, thus effective communication and teamwork are crucial elements in their daily operations.

Game Economists may also spend significant time analyzing data and creating models to predict player behavior, making a quiet, focused work environment key.

The job can be stressful due to the pressure to make accurate predictions and meet project deadlines, but it can also be highly rewarding for those who have a passion for both gaming and economics.

While a standard workweek is typical, overtime might be required during major project phases or prior to game releases.

The role of a Game Economist is continually evolving, as they need to adapt to changes in the gaming industry and advancements in technology.

After gaining experience and establishing a solid reputation in the industry, a Game Economist may choose to take on consultancy roles, advising various companies on their game economies, or even venture into creating their own game development company.


FAQs About Becoming a Game Economist

What qualifications do I need to become a game economist?

To become a game economist, you would typically need a degree in economics, computer science, game design, or a related field.

Key skills include a deep understanding of economic principles and theories, proficiency in data analysis and modelling, and a thorough understanding of game mechanics.

It’s also beneficial to have a passion for and knowledge of video games.

Proficiency in programming languages such as Python or R can also be useful, as these tools are often used for data analysis and modelling.


How long does it take to become a game economist?

The time it takes to become a game economist can vary depending on your educational path and experience level.

If you pursue a traditional bachelor’s degree in economics, computer science, or game design, it typically takes four years.

Postgraduate study in areas like economic modelling or game theory may also be beneficial and could take an additional 1-2 years.

Gaining practical experience through internships or in roles like game design or data analysis can also help you become job-ready.


Can I become a game economist without a degree?

Becoming a game economist without a degree can be challenging, as the role often requires a deep understanding of complex economic theories and the ability to apply these to the design of game economies.

However, if you have significant practical experience in game design or economic analysis and a strong understanding of economic principles, you may be able to work your way into this role.

Self-study, online courses, and practical experience in game development or economic analysis can be beneficial in this regard.


Is being a game economist stressful?

The level of stress in a game economist role can depend on various factors like the complexity of the game economy, deadlines, and the individual’s capacity to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.

Just like any other job, it can be stressful at times, especially during key phases of a game’s development.

However, it can also be intellectually stimulating and rewarding, particularly when a well-designed game economy contributes significantly to a game’s success.


What are the career prospects for game economists?

The career prospects for game economists are promising as the video game industry continues to grow and evolve.

As more complex and immersive games are developed, the need for professionals who understand and can design effective in-game economies will increase.

Apart from working directly with game studios, game economists may also find opportunities in consulting, academia, or in companies developing economic modelling software.

They might also progress into broader roles within game development, such as project management or executive leadership.



And there you have it.

Venturing into the realm of becoming a game economist is no trivial task, but it’s unquestionably worthwhile.

Equipped with the appropriate skills, education, and tenacity, you’re well on your path to making a substantial impact in the gaming industry.

Keep in mind, the journey may be arduous, but the possibilities are endless. Your groundbreaking ideas could be the catalyst for the next major innovation that revolutionizes the way we play, engage, and experience games.

So, take that initial leap. Immerse yourself in learning. Connect with industry experts. And most importantly, never stop analyzing and predicting game trends.

Because the gaming world is eager to see what you can develop.

If you’re seeking tailored advice on launching or progressing your career as a game economist, have a look at our AI Career Path Advisor.

This complimentary tool is specifically designed to provide personalized recommendations and resources to help you effectively navigate your career path.

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