What is a Game Developer?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are many different job titles, including those involved in the pre- and post-production process of game development, which could be considered a game developer. In general, a game developer is a professional who helps create a video game from concept to actual product.
For the purpose of this article, we will focus on two main categories of game development, game design and game programming. Game design may include titles like video game designer or writer, while game programming may include job titles like network programmer and user interface programmer.
What Does a Video Game Developer Do?
Video game developers usually work in teams to help make an idea for a video game come to life. The pre-production process usually includes creating a story, outlining designs, and creating prototypes. The video game then moves into the production process, where designers determine how the game will work, and programmers help make the game work. Post-production usually focuses on testing and correcting any issues.
Although it depends on your specific job title and what kind of game designer or game programmer you are, game designers may perform duties like:
- Writing out ideas and concepts for characters, levels, etc.
- Utilizing and editing scripting language
- Researching projects
- Designing the layout of the game
- Making edits based on feedback
Video game programmers may be required to perform duties like:
- Creating code
- Editing code
- Incorporating artwork into the game
- Enabling online access
- Creating game menus
How to Become a Game Developer
Although it depends on the specific job and employer, many game programmers need at least a bachelor's degree, and although a bachelor's degree may not be required for all video game designers, a college degree is helpful. These professionals (both designers and programmers) also usually need to gain experience in their specific field and/or pursue professional certification. Here we discuss some of the game developer requirements in more detail.
Game Developer Education Requirements
Aspiring video game developers can choose from associate's and bachelor's degree programs in video game development. There are also different game design and development degree and certificate programs available, as well as game programmer schools.
While certificate, associate's, bachelor's, and even master's degree programs may be available in some of these different fields, a bachelor's degree is what is commonly required or beneficial. At this level, aspiring designers usually receive hands-on training with technology in the field, and aspiring programmers receive hands-on training in programming languages.
Other Game Developer Requirements
There may not be formal requirements beyond a bachelor's degree for game developers, but it may be beneficial for video game designers to gain as much experience in the field as possible. They may further develop their creativity and computer skills through self-study. Game designers may also add new projects and experiences to their professional portfolios to become more marketable.
Aspiring game programmers may consider becoming certified in a specific programming language. These professionals may also need to take continuing education courses and/or participate in professional development opportunities to stay up to date on current technologies.
How Much Does a Video Game Developer Make?
According to PayScale.com, the median annual salary for a video game designer in November 2019 was $63,781. This is slightly lower than the median annual salary reported in October 2019 for video game programmers of $65,423 (per PayScale.com). A number of factors could cause this salary to change for either position, including variables like job title, skill sets, location, and employer.