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Video Game Programmer Job Description, Career as a Video Game Programmer, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training:— Bachelor’s degree in computer science or computer game development

Salary: Median— $83,383 annually

Employment Outlook:— Good

A video game programmer is essentially a software programmer who writes codes for video games. They are responsible for making the game work properly. Video game designers may design a road and a bunch of cars to race on it, but it is the programmer’s job to decide how fast the cars would run, how far those would bounce over an obstacle, and so on. It is also the programmers’ job to make sure that the games run smoothly, without crashing. Video game programmers may have to develop games for PCs, as well as consoles like Playstation, GameBoy and XBox. So, they need to have good knowledge about the internal mechanisms of these platforms.

Education and Training Requirements

A bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science is a must for a video game programmer, along with good analytical and reasoning skills. Many universities and colleges these days offer bachelor’s degrees in computer game development. These degrees are good stepping stones for aspiring game programmers. Active involvement in open source software development projects also help a lot. Video game programmers must have good knowledge of games and must be passionate about playing games as well. Experienced video game programmers may pursue a degree in management disciplines and shift towards managerial positions.

Getting the Job

Skilled programmers in C/C++ or Java may be able to get jobs as video game programmers as soon as they are out of college. Job openings for video game programmers are advertised in the classified section of newspapers, as well as in job portals on the Internet.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Advancement in video game programming primarily depends on the programmer’s skills, and how quickly he/she is able to improve upon those. Concepts of game programming are undergoing rapid changes with every passing year, and the faster a video game programmer can adapt to the continuously evolving trends, the better his/her career prospects. Demand for video game programmers has increased to a good extent in the last few years, and is expected to grow even further in the coming decade.

Skillful game programmers are often promoted to senior programming positions or managerial positions as they gain experience in the field. It is now possible for fresh graduates to get jobs in the industry, but they must be prepared to deal with stiff competition. However, a bachelor’s degree in computer game development will certainly give aspiring candidates an edge over their peers when applying for a job.

Employment outlook for video game programmers is expected to be good in the coming years. Video game sales grew by almost 200% from 1996 to 2006. The gaming industry is thus naturally expected to have a high demand for skilled and experienced programmers.

Working Conditions

Video game programmers may have to work under varied conditions. Programmers in well-established game studios work in well-lit, comfortable workspaces. They usually work in regular shifts and have 40-hour work weeks. However, as projects near completion, they may have to put in additional hours to meet deadlines. During those phases, it is not uncommon for game programmers to spend more than 60 hours a week in the office, ironing out bugs in games, and optimizing program code to ensure good performance of the games under different circumstances.

Where to Go for More Information

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
2 Penn Plaza, Suite 701
NY 10121-0701

Entertainment Software Association
575 7th Street, NW
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20004

National Workforce Center for Emerging Technologies
3000 Landerholm Circle S.E.
Bellevue, WA 98007

International Game Developers Association
19 Mantua Road
Mt. Royal, New Jersey 08061

Salary, Earnings and Benefits

Video game programmers earn quite a high salary, with even the most inexperienced candidates getting a yearly average of around $57,000. The average yearly salary of video game programmers in the United States is around $83,383. With experience, this figure can even exceed $100,000 annually.

Programmers employed in well established companies generally enjoy all benefits offered to regular employees, including vacations, paid leaves, and other perks.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesComputers, IT & Telecommunications