Becoming a Game Engineer
A game engineer designs the software programs for computer games. Their job tasks include developing gaming programs and networks for third-party use, designing games, and creating game mechanics that coordinate with a story. The tasks they perform are similar to those attributed to software engineers, software developers, and game designers. Long work hours are the norm in this occupation.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Experience||Varies; 2-3 years of experience required|
|Key Skills||Must be creative and possess analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills; familiarity with design techniques, drawings, blueprints, and models; as well as able to conduct operations analysis and systems evaluation; ability to use related software, such as those used for program testing, and environment development; familiarity with industry-specific tools, such as integrated circuit testers and application servers|
|Median Salary (2015)||$100,690 per year (for software developers)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Monster.com job postings found in November 2012, O*Net Online.
Step 1: Graduate from a Bachelor's Degree Program
Most game developers and software engineers have bachelor's degrees, such as the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Computer Science with a computer game design concentration, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design and Technology with a focus on game design, B.S. in Game Design and Development, or B.S. in Computer Science with a concentration in game design. These programs, which require four years of study, focus on the construction and design of computer games, and the increasing use of games in different aspects of society.
The curriculum includes classes for Java programming, data structures, design history, game software development, programming for interactive and digital media, human computer interaction, interactive narratives, and artificial intelligence. In addition to lecture and studio work, some programs also include an internship and senior thesis project.
Complete an internship. Some bachelor's degree programs allow students to complete an internship during their studies. Because internships allow students to obtain experience working in the field of game engineering and interact with other game engineers, they make it easier to find employment after graduation.
Produce a senior project. By creating a senior project, students obtain even more experience working in the field and graduate with a product of work to display to potential employers. Some employers appreciate being able to view a candidate's prior work.
Consider completing a concentration. Bachelor's degree programs allow students to hone their studies on their area of interest. Classes cover topics in artificial intelligence, human computer interaction, game development, and digital sound for computer games.
Step 2: Begin Working as a Game Developer
Although some positions, such as those in software engineering do not always require experience, employers prefer applicants with some entry-level experience. Recent graduates of a bachelor's degree program find a job as a game developer immediately after completion of their studies and use their experience to advance to a software game engineering position.
Game developers create game systems and mechanics, develop game documents to support game production, work with art departments to establish game technology, and develop interactive functionality in games. Software game engineers work on a core development team for games, ensure games are compatible with distribution channels, and develop monetization aspects of games.
Step 3: Continue Training
After working as a gaming developer, individuals may go on to positions in game engineering. They use the skills they've acquired through entry-level work to handle more complex projects and systems for consumer use. Be sure that you stay current with programming languages and tools. Employers prefer applicants with knowledge of programming languages, such as Java and Maya. Keeping up-to-date with these languages is done through certificate programs or other types of continuing education.
So if you want to become a game engineer, expect working toward obtaining a bachelor's degree in computer science or related field, working your way up at a development studio, and always being ready to continue your training in programming languages through additional certificate programs.