How to become a video game developer
Video game industry is increasing in size at a very rapid rate with some of the world's biggest software and media companies now an integral part of the industry. This only bodes well for the future to have such illustrious companies on board; but also in the present, with hundreds of millions of dollars they are ploughing into the sector. With the increase in research and development, there also comes an opportunity for people to forge great careers in this burgeoning industry.
Video game developers or video game designers (can be used interchangeably) are now in big demand. With competition between major players to provide games for consoles for companies like Microsoft, Sony – two companies with the signature consoles in Xbox and PlayStation respectively – fierce, it means competition to hire talented game developers is stronger than ever. With this, also comes the benefit of high salary and rewards for these game developers.
Role and type of video game designer jobs
It may seem like as if the role of a video game developer is to create video games using their programming and coding skills, however, this is just one part of it.
When creating a game, there will be a steam of several, if not upwards of 10 members. They are delegated different jobs but with the aim of coming to a shared experience of putting together a highly playable game they can market to the hungry gaming public. Although their jobs are different their roles are often entwined because
The video game coders or programmers - as they are sometimes known - will use their knowledge in computer languages to create the game.
The focal point of every good game will be a storyline. It is the story line or the script of the video game that creates the interest and acts as a selling point to the public. There are members in the design team that work exclusively - or in consultation with the coders – to create a script on which the game will be based. Although their work is often overlooked, they are in fact vital members of the video game developer industry.
Unless you are one of those stereotypical geeky person that has had a natural gift at creating software programs through trial and error from an young age, it will almost certainly require that you have a background in education in computer science, software development, etc. Many universities now also provide degrees in game development.
A degree in computer science
Many video game developers have a background in computer science because it provides the knowledge in computer languages, a requirement for developing highly complex games.
Many game developers also learn complex programming languages through trial and error and through self-help using textbooks, and aid from websites that provide tutorials in programming.
To get a job as a writer, a degree in more non-technical subject will suffice. There is a tendency to hire people with degrees in English, media oriented courses, etc.
Other than having the technical know-how, a game developer also has to have other skills:
- You should have a serious interest in gaming. Most video game developers are also avid players themselves. This is especially important for people that work on the scripting because there always needs to be unique ideas for new games. One of the biggest selling points of new games is the authenticity of the ideas and game play.
- Teamwork – As explained earlier, developing a game requires teamwork and, therefore, you have to have an ability to work efficiently with others.
- Communication – This follows on from the above. Interacting with other members of the design team and the head of the unit and anyone else that you may need to report to will require excellent communication skills.
- Creativity – Game designers, especially those who work on the scripting need to demonstrate lots unique ideas.
Finding opportunities to work for a game developer
There are numerous routes people can take to find jobs in game development. Firstly, look for opportunities on websites of game developers. Sometimes you will find job opportunities posted by firms like Electronic Arts in their job section , THQ, who may announce jobs on their sites.
Remember, this industry is highly competitive and, therefore, you will need to be a great candidate to lend a job as a developer.
Companies like Electronic Arts take in undergraduate students as interns thus providing an opportunity for people to get highly relevant experience while studying for their degree.
Small independent game makers
Some tope video game designers do not necessarily work for big video game manufacturers. Some in the industry have founded small-independed companies and, then, tie up contracts with big players like Sony to make game for their platforms.
Sending off CV to companies
Another way is to send your CV to video game makers together with your apllication as to why you are interested in working for them. You should address this to their Human Resource department since you are making a speculative application, unless you have a specific address.
Another route is to look on the websites of major online job portals. Gaming companies also advertise jobs on major job sites as they get more exposure and thus more likely to get a wide range of applications.
Building your own game development firm
Because many video game developers are avid gamers, some of them have been into game development for a number of years on a small scale. Many of the most popular arcade games, for example, have been developed by passionate gamers that, now draw millions of players online across many arcade game sites.
Bearing in mind that the employment market for game designers is highly competitive, the salary earned by developers reflects this. In fact, the starting salary for a game developer is high compared other similar industries that require similar levels of technical knowledge in programming.
The salary for a video game designer varies depending on the type of role you have in the design team, seniority and experience, etc. It will also vary substantially depending on the size of the firm for which/she works for.