Turning your passion for video games into your full-time game developer jobs can be a dream-come-true for most gamers. But this transition is not easy and requires a lot of hard work, plenty of late-night learning, trial-and-error, but highly rewarding once you've successfully reached your goal.
As a game developer, you are fully involved in the creation of video games, mobile games, PC games, and games exclusively played on certain gaming consoles and other platforms. Here, you can check out the online Game Development schools we reviewed for you.
The term game developer refers to the programmer "developing" the game, but it is sometimes used to refer to any person working on the development of a particular game. Here's an useful post on stages of game development, to boot. Read on if you're interested in this career path and would like to know what your options are.
Types of Game Developer Jobs
There's a lot of job opportunities for a game developer. Game developers work on the planning, designing, creating, testing, marketing, and launching of games for mobile devices, computers, or game consoles. Because of this, the work of game developers is divided into more specific roles.
The job title of game developers may change from one company to the next, but here are the common game developer jobs:
When you hear the term game developers, there's a good chance that the person is referring to a game designer. This designer is the brain of the entire project. The game developer vision will be used by everyone working on the project. The game developer will direct the artists, programmers, project managers, game testers, and marketers about everything from start to finish.
Programmers and Game Testers
The programmer, coder, software engineer, software developer are actually the game developers. They are one of the most important members of the game development team.
A software developer uses programming languages appropriate for the game's targeted platform for writing the code. This code would implement everything from the game's logic to how characters would interact with each other (and within their surroundings).
Depending on how big or small the project is, the job of a software developer could be divided into specific parts of the code or game. For example, level 1 software developer, level 2, and so on.
In big projects or well-known gaming companies, you will find an entry-level software developer, senior software developer, and manager of the programming team.
- Writer: The game writer produces the script for the entire game. The writers brainstorm all conversations of people within the game, as well as the narration at the start and end of each level.
- Music Composer: As the job title may suggest, the work of a music composer is to create the music, sounds, background noise, and all audio-related content for the game.
- Visual Artist: The artist (may also be called game designer) is the one who turns the characters, settings, and every other visual into reality. The role of a visual artist varies greatly on a project-to-project or company-to-company basis.
Like the software engineer, the role of a writer, music composer, the visual artist can also be further divided by ranks (entry-level artist, senior artist, etc.) or specialization (environment artist, level artist, character design artist, and so on).
The project manager or director is a senior-level job held by people with the most experience and strong leadership skills. This role is suitable for those who have been in the game development industry for years and know the ins and outs of the specific division he/she is assigned to lead.
For example, a project manager for the video game developers leads the programming team to reach their deadlines, while the QA manager ensures the game testers scrape through the game to find errors so they are corrected immediately.
Beyond the Scene Gaming Business Professionals
The people working behind the scenes to find new investors, make comprehensive marketing plans, and think of ways to bring the game to the forefront of the gaming industry. These professionals may not be involved in the actual game development, but their jobs are just as important because they are responsible for putting the end-game out into the world.
How Do I Get a Job as a Game Developer?
Companies looking for a game developer choose people who are creative, technically-skilled, and naturally artistic. To land a job as a game developer, you'll need several things such as:
- Formal training: Not all companies require this, but it is a BIG plus if you have a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science, programming, game development, software development, IT, or any related course. A master's degree is often required in manager or director positions. Certificates from short courses along with an impressive portfolio would work as well.
- Experience: Unless you're applying for an entry-level job, you should at least have 3 years of experience in the gaming space.
- Design knowledge: Although a game developer is focused on the code aspect of the game, it is beneficial if you also know how to work with 2D and 3D design tools.
- Tools: Game developers must be able to develop a game using design software (Unity, Unreal Engine, GameMaker Studio), code editors (Sublime Text, Atom, Visual Studio), automated testing tools (Selenium, Junit), and other new software.
Game development is a team effort and consists of several people. You must be a natural collaborator with excellent communication skills, organizational skills, problem-solving skills, and analytical thinking.
How Much Do You Earn as a Game Developer?
The amount game developers earn depends on job type (full-time/part-time), location (remote, work-from-home, office-based), and other factors like experience and specialization.
A beginner software developer earns a salary of about $100,000 a year, while the senior software developer salary starts at $150,000 (or higher). Game developers with a bachelor's or master's degree get to negotiate salary during the hiring process.
If you specialize in a particular topic, such as Artificial Intelligence programming, you may get to land a higher salary even if you are new to the industry.
A game developer working a full-time job at the office gets benefits like medical, vision, and dental coverage; 401(k), paid vacation/holidays, and sometimes profit-sharing programs.
Is a Game Developer a Good Career?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), game developers are in-demand jobs with an expected growth of 31% through 2026. Computer games and console games will still be a hit, but the demand for mobile games is expected to rise.
Continuing education, especially for new technology or skills, can help add experience and negotiate for a higher salary.
Top 7 Gaming Companies to Watch
If you're looking to join a team of skilled game developers and want to see who's hiring, make sure to check this list:
- Activision Blizzard (Santa Monica, California) - Famous for Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, World of Warcraft, this company has been around since 2008 but is part of a much larger "Activision" mother company that has been in the entertainment business for 100+ years.
- Riot Games (LA, California) - Famous for League of Legends, this award-winning company operates the top esports league competition in the world.
- Naughty Dog (Santa Monica, California) - This indie company was founded in 1984, but is now a part of Sony. It is responsible for titles like Crash Bandicoot, Uncharted, The Last of Us, Jak and Daxter.
- Epic Games (Cary, North Carolina) - Join the people who develop games like Fortnite, Unreal, Gears of War, Infinity Blade, Unreal Engine. It is home to over 1,000 employees from around the world.
- Take-Two Interactive (New York City, NYC) - Launched in 1993, this company brought Grand Theft Auto and NBA 2K into the world.
- Electronic Arts Inc. (Redwood City, California) - Created Battlefield, Need for Speed, The Sims, and Star Wars, this company was launched in 1982 by an Ex-Apple employee and has grown into a workplace with over 10k employees around the world.
- Valve Corporation (Bellevue, WA) - Creators of PC games Half-life, DOTA 2, Left 4 Dead, and the massively popular Steam distribution service. It's been around since 1996 and seems like a stable company to work for with current employees calling it a "dream company" to work for.
Of course, speaking of dream companies... If you want to apply to one of the oldest and most in-demand names around, the Japan-based Nintendo (creators of Mario, Zelda, Pokémon) is often at the top of the game developers list of preferred employers.
Now that you see what kind of game developer jobs are around and which top companies you should definitely watch out for vacant jobs, your best bet at landing the job of your dreams is to create more web or mobile games, master tools like game engines, and never stop looking for challenging projects to take on.