The video gaming industry has wonderful career opportunities with rewarding jobs waiting for those with passion and dedication. The range of jobs are as diverse as the industry itself. There are gaming artists, animators, audio engineers, producers, gaming assurance testers, developers, designers, and more. Starting a career in video games is a realistic goal and in many cases, a lucrative one to boot. It’s no secret that game development has become one of the most sought after fields in the application development space. The average game developer or designer has the capability of making hundreds of thousands every year and has the potential to make millions if they become partners or investors. 

Video game career
Photo Credit: Myriam Casper

The demand for competent game developers and designers is high and expected to remain that way for the next 20 years or so. Game developers work hand in hand with Game designers, programmers, and software developers when making games and their duties can span anywhere from audio, design, production, and visual arts. They are the geniuses behind the layout of every game and the mechanics, animation, and programming. Game developers and designers take basic ideas and turn them into controllable and interactive stories. 

Starting a Career in the Video Game Industry

Breaking into any industry is hard. Being a game developer or designer are the two career paths that offer the most promise and compensation. Even though demand is up, establishing yourself in the gaming industry is not easy. There are hundreds of professionals with better-looking resumes searching for the same jobs you want. The easiest way to break into the industry is head-on. That means going to college to become specialized or gaining your experience first-hand. To propel to the top you will need to have an extensive portfolio and great people skills. With all these things, getting into the industry should be attainable.

Video Game Designer Jobs 

A video game designer is in charge of developing ideas and concepts for games. It is his/her responsibility to create the story, layout, structure, vision, and mechanics of the given game. They essentially make a mental version of the entire game and await developers to flesh out their concepts and ideas. Video game designers are required to produce numerous visual aids and provide it to their team. The average video game designer is capable of some 3-D modeling, coding with C++,  and drawing.

how to become a game developer

How to Become a Game Designer

My recommendation is that before you decide to choose any college, you should gain basic knowledge and skills in various software applications. The best-case scenario would be to even have a portfolio that features some of your best work. Although game design is still a relatively new field, you can get a decent degree if you know where to look. If you’d like to break into the industry, you should study at one of the following schools.

Here is a list of potential universities: 

  • USC (University of Southern California) 
  • Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)
  • Becker College
  • Drexel University (Philadelphia) 
  • University of Utah
  • Digipen Institute of Technology (International School)
  • NYU University (New York University) 
  • MSU (Michigan State University)

The college you decide to go with should take you through some of the basic prerequisites for game design. You should be taken through basic computer science, game design, practical programming, Mathematics, and Logic. While becoming a certified game designer is possible, becoming a game developer is not as simple as easy or direct. Most institutions don’t award degrees for game development. As a budding young game developer, the only option you have is to go after another degree that is associated with software engineering, information technology, and computer science. The degrees will provide you with a working knowledge of all the programming languages you need to know.

Having a bachelor’s degree in software engineering is not mandatory, however, it is a certification that might give you an advantage over competitors. All you need to become a great game developer is working knowledge of the essential programming language (which includes application programming and web programming), communication skills, a qualified portfolio, and experience.

How to Become a Game Developer

Game developers are responsible for bringing the game designers concepts and ideas to life. They are responsible for the programming of the game, the animation, and everything else in between. Game developers should be able to code flawlessly with Java, C++, HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, and SQL. They should also have great communication skills, handle pressure well, and have background knowledge of how games operate. 

Beefing up your resume

After spending half a decade at a prestigious institute, it is time to build up your resume and add numerous projects if there aren’t any yet. Typically, a great place to start is to build your own game with a team or by yourself. There is no measure of skill and experience that quite compares to creating your own game. As a game designer and developer, looking to break into the industry, you should intern in the field. This part does matter, but at the end of the day, any form of experience is always appreciated. 

Careers in the video game industry

How to Find an Internship

There are numerous job hunting sites out there such as Indeed that companies use to offer internship positions. If websites aren’t your style, consider sending your cover letter/resume to every local studio and gaming company, you know. If it is possible, I recommend trying to get a paid internship at the studio that eventually accepts you.

Video Game Developer Salary  

There has been some conflict about how much money a game developer can make. Some sources claim that developers make a cushy six-figure income yearly, while others claim that it is closer to a mid five-figure income. Although both numbers are correct, they do not accurately portray the reality of the situation. It is entirely possible to end up on either side of the spectrum depending on your experience, skill, location and current career in video games. 

Job analytic sites have compiled numerous job postings and provide a realistic average that accurately tells you what to expect from a job as a game developer. Concluding that the average game developer makes about $110,800 per year. Although thousands of game developers are severely underpaid, even more, are compensated handsomely. In the worst-case scenario, as a budding developer, you might end up earning less than most, but rest assured, you should not fall below $68,000.

Experience matters in terms of salary. The location of your job matters as well. Some cities pay better than others, experience doesn’t matter as much as it should, but all things being equal, people rarely earn below the average, so you should be looking at six figures if you end up becoming a game developer.

Requirements to Be a Video Game Developer or Video Game Programmer

In all of human history, it has never been so easy to pick up a new skill like it is right now. Online coaching websites and free resources have revolutionized the learning process and made high-level skills accessible to everyone. Learning something as advanced as C++ and JavaScript can be learned at one’s own pace. Online tutorials and courses offer more personal experience and allow you to cover all your bases and ask all the questions you need answers too. It is efficient, accessible to you whenever you need it and very instructive. 

It is almost flawless and perfectly accessible to anyone willing to pay. That means aspiring game developers who can’t afford college. Online courses provide insight on numerous topics and allow you to work at your own pace. Plus, most online courses usually come with a Facebook or forum group connecting you to a community of learners that could potentially have the answers to your questions.  Courses on websites like Udacity, Coursera, and Pluralsight, are known for there high-quality and subject depth.

In a nutshell, online courses are cheaper and faster than college. They are an alternative option to those that don’t have the time or money to learn advanced programming for 3-4 years of your life. At the least, it can help you get an internship or a low-level entry position. However, we strongly recommend going to an accredited college will give you more credibility when starting out and jump hunting. A degree from a reputable university will give you a foundation to work outside of the video game industry if you choose to one day. Although there are great other alternative options out there, going to an accredited four-year university will have your career a jump-start.

Post a Job

Others Jobs in gaming:

Gaming Artist or Gaming Animator – Creates interactive animation within video games

Gaming Audio Engineer – Implement proper sound, sound effects and mix music in the game.

Video Game Producer – Heads the complete development of the game

Gaming Quality Assurance TesterVideo game tester

Gamer – Professional gamer, content creator or streamer

Maintaining a Career in Video Games

Fewer factors than you think come into play when you are aspiring to have a career in video games. Sure, experience, skill, and proper execution play a major role in determining how far you’ll make it in the industry, but soft skills such as imagination and communication are more important to having a career in video games than one might think. As a designer and developer, your job is to bring to life those ideas that kids and gaming enthusiasts spend $38 billion each year on. For that to happen, you need to have a solid relationship with everyone on the team. The video game industry is adaptive and ever-changing it is even common for workers to change firms frequently. Only creative designers and developers will make it to the top.

Current Jobs in Gaming

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