How to Become a Game Developer: Complete Guide

Post date :

Jan 18, 2024

The development of a video game involves many moving parts, animators, programmers, software developers, QA testers, game designers, and many more. This article focuses on the game developer's role, what a game developer is, their responsibilities, skills, salary expectations, and more.

What is a Video Game Developer?

A game developer is a professional who combines creative and technical skills to build different types of video games for various platforms – console, desktop, mobile, etc.

Generally, game developers work closely with game designers to come up with ideas for gameplay, then use programming languages, game engines, and other software tools to turn ideas into playable games by creating a game’s mechanics, systems, and features. 

They handle the intricate details of game architecture, character models, environmental visuals, user interface, artificial intelligence, and ensure that the game runs smoothly across different platforms. Game developers also tackle challenges such as physics simulations, collision detection, and optimization to make games realistic and enjoyable.

In essence, game developers are the architects behind the scenes who transform gaming concepts into interactive, immersive experiences we call games.

Game Developer Responsibilities

As a game developer, your responsibilities will hinge on both the size of the company and your area of expertise. At larger studios, you may specialize in one area of game development. At an indie studio, just like working in many small businesses, you might wear multiple hats and engage in several stages of a game's development lifecycle. Here are some general responsibilities you may have in this role: 

  • Use programming languages like C#, C++, Java, and Python to create visuals, game mechanics, features, and functionalities.

  • Identify and fix technical issues, bugs, and glitches within the game.

  • Prototype, iterate, and optimize code and game elements to enhance performance.

  • Review existing code and recommend improvements.

  • Collaborate with game designers, artists, animators, and other team members.

  • Adapt games for various platforms like consoles, PCs, mobile devices, etc., while considering hardware capabilities and limitations.

  • Create and maintain technical documentation.

  • Incorporate feedback from playtesting and user experience testing.

Useful Skills for New Game Developers

Given a developer’s responsibilities, having the right skills on your resume is critical. This section covers some essential skills you need to show employers.

Coding: If you want to develop games, you have to learn how to code. Start with C# or C++, since they are the most commonly used. From there, you can expand to other programming languages such as Python and JavaScript. Many developers master multiple languages to adapt to various projects.

Game Engines: Experience with game engines (ex., Unity or Unreal Engine). Unity is a good place to start, with Unreal Engine coming in handy when you are a bit more experienced.

Mathematics and Physics: A strong foundation in mathematics and physics is helpful for implementing game mechanics, physics simulations, and algorithms.

Graphics Programming: Understanding graphics programming enables the manipulation of graphics, shaders, and rendering techniques to craft realistic environments, character animations, and special effects, all of which are pivotal for captivating players.

User Interface (UI) Design: Intuitive menus, responsive buttons, and clear HUD elements are key to keeping players engaged. A well-crafted UI enhances accessibility, guides players seamlessly through the game and makes it user-friendly which contributes to player satisfaction.

Collaboration: Game creation is a multidisciplinary effort. Developers work alongside artists, designers, sound engineers, and QA testers to bring a game to life. Effective communication and teamwork are vital to align technical implementations with creative visions.

Game Design: Understanding game design principles is very useful. Developers need to know how to translate game designers' ideas into functional gameplay, considering factors like player engagement, balance, and progression.

Game Developer Salary

A common question is, “How much do game developers earn?” Well, it depends. Salaries vary based on several factors such as the type of work, employer, experience, and location. Here are some average base salaries of game developers.

How to Become a Game Developer

There are many paths you could take to become a game developer. You can:

  • Get a degree in computer science or a related field. While not all employers require you to have a degree, some still might value candidates who do. The typical diploma can take one to two years, while a bachelor can take as many as five years. 

  • Do some self-directed learning. There is a lot of information out there: books, blogs, articles, podcasts, YouTube tutorial videos. Note that the effectiveness of this approach depends on your preferred learning style. For example, if you know you struggle to stay committed over the long term, this approach may prove difficult and time-intensive.

  • Accelerate your launch into a new career with a bootcamp. For example, UBC Extended Learning in partnership with Circuit Stream offers a 30-week bootcamp in Game Development, to help you gain the technical skills, industry knowledge, portfolio, practical experience, and networking opportunities you need to break into the game industry.

Game Development Bootcamp With UBC Extended Learning

If you're looking to combine your love of video games with a lucrative future career, chat with an advisor to see how we can help make your dreams a reality.

© Circuit Stream.
This course is delivered by Circuit Stream in partnership with UBC Extended Learning.

© Circuit Stream. This course is delivered by
Circuit Stream in partnership with
UBC Extended Learning.

© Circuit Stream.
This course is delivered by Circuit Stream in partnership with UBC Extended Learning.