Economy leaves video game developers out of work

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Justin Berenbaum, a 17-year veteran of the video game industry, hunts for a job at the Game Developers Conference. Credit: Robert Durell / For the Times

Since landing his first job in the video game industry in 1992 as a salesman at Capcom, Justin Berenbaum never wanted for work -- until this month.

The 39-year-old from Woodland Hills was laid off from his job as vice president of business development at EmSense Corp., a San Francisco game design consulting firm. A few days later, he was roaming the halls of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, browsing the career pavilion and hitting up former colleagues for leads.'For the first time in 17 years, I have no idea what my next job will be,’ Berenbaum said. ‘Given how bad the economy is, I’m a little worried.’

What a difference a year makes. After a decade-long boom, hiring in the video game industry slowed dramatically in late 2008 as consumers curtailed spending and credit dried up.

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-- Alex Pham