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Where The Hell is Matt – How A Video Game Designer Salary Becomes A Trip Around The World


Still in his 20’s, Internet-celeb Matt Harding, creator of the where the hell is matt Web site has had an interesting career path that included him taking two major trips around the world. Not too many people go from video game store sales clerk to video game designer and eventually to world traveler and online video dancing sensation.

In a recent PayScale Salary Story, Matt recalled his path from high school to traveling around the world. This trip is what resulted in the original where the hell is matt dancing video.

Does your job have the potential to pay as much as a video game designer salary, so you could travel the world too? Take our salary survey to find out.

Matt’s Career Path

Before Matt earned a video game designer salary, Matt worked in retail sales – selling video games and accessories. Jobs like this pay a relatively low hourly wage of $7 to $9 – not quite a video game designer salary range. His next gig was working for a video game magazine. According to PayScale data, jobs that involve working for a magazine typically pay in a salary range of $30,000 to $50,000.

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After the magazine gig, the generation z job-hopper moved to Los Angeles, California where he went to work for video game giant ActiVision. Matt worked as a designer and started to earn a video game designer salary. According to PayScale data, a video game designer salary with 1-4 years of experience in Los Angeles earns in the $49,500 to $70,500 salary range.

What It Takes to Earn a Video Game Designer Salary

According to Matt, he didn’t want “to spend 12 hours a day staring a computer screen, getting fat and getting pale skin.” He gave up his video game designer salary and used the money that he’d saved to travel around the world for 5 months, leading to the creation of his where the hell is matt Web site.

Of course, being a video game designer can be fun – you get to contribute to video games that may be played by millions of people, work with other smart people who love games, and, depending on where you work and how much experience you have, are paid a pretty good salary. On the other hand, the hard work requires you to be indoors most of the time and work insane hours to meet unrealistic product release deadlines.

What if Matt had stayed in the U.S., continued to work crazy hours in the software industry, staring at a computer for 12 hours a day instead of becoming a world traveler?

Hypothetically speaking, if Matt had become fat and pasty, moved north to Silicon Valley and worked as a Product Manager in e-Commerce, his annual salary range would have been $89,902 to $124,900. Let’s say this traveling two-step had moved to San Jose, California and became a Sr. Test/Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer in Computer Software; he would have been dancing to a salary range of $84,704-$91,500.

What Does A Trip Around the World Cost?

Matt chose to travel. To date, Matt has been to 55 countries and 7 continents. And he says that in a lot of ways it can be cheaper than staying at home in the U.S., where the costs of rent, car insurance, high-speed Internet access and cable TV add up fast.

Of course, depending on what you do, where you stay and how you travel, you can spend a lot or a little. The blog 13 Months provides a lot of detail on the cost of world travel, breaking the cost into three categories: transportation, daily expenses and splurges on special experiences. They average about $2000/month per person. To get the details on the cost of their trip and advice on keeping the cost of travel low, visit the 13 months travel blog.

What’s Next for Matt of Where the Hell is Matt Fame

After Matt’s dancing video took the Internet by storm on sites such as YouTube, BoingBoing and Metafilter, Matt was approached by Stride Gum to take another around-the-world dancing trip. This time he had six months to travel and record his smooth moves.

When we asked Matt about his future goals, the dancing celeb said that he “really doesn’t like working” and described his current occupation as itinerant deadbeat. Matt doesn’t want to design video games, but says he enjoys playing them, surfing the web and watching movies via Netflex. Maybe he could become a film reviewer. If Matt became a journalist, he could make a salary range from $30,000 to $80,000.

To each his own. No matter what you do, find out whether you are being paid fairly by taking our salary survey.


Dr. Al Lee

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