Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related subject
Average Salary: $80,000
Job Outlook: Poor
Just about anyone who has enjoyed playing a video game may have dreamed of becoming a developer, but only a few will make this a reality. Although it’s important to have a love of games there are lots of serious skills which are required, and only the most highly qualified people will find jobs in this competitive industry.
Anyone wishing to be a game developer must be good at computer programming, as a typical game will require hundreds of thousands of lines of code written over a period of months. This code is often written by teams of software developers who are able to understand extremely complex mathematics, as a lot of the programs are based around algorithms which describe the movements within the games.
The best programmers are able to write code that can be changed without destroying the game, as some games have features which allow players to access new levels and effects. Good code can sometimes be used for other games. There are often many specialists on a game developing team, including artificial intelligence, graphics, and sound and engine developers.
A game developer needs to have a strong mathematics background combined with a great level of artistry and creativity as they have to have the ability to visualize the way the finished game should look. A lot of game developers find that they use math skills learned in high school, so it’s a good idea to take as much math as possible. It is also necessary to be able to work well alone or in a team and to have good communication skills.
Education and Training Requirements
The majority of game developers have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or some other related subject such as electrical engineering or cognitive science. Some developers also have advanced degrees. While it isn’t strictly necessary to have a degree for this job it is frequently demanded by employers, and it will give you a good background in programming and essential skills.
Getting the Job
The competition for jobs as a game developer is extremely stiff, and you really need to be able to stand out from the crowd. As a game developer you are likely to have already spent considerable time developing your own game, and this should be an essential part of your resume as it will show potential employers exactly what you are capable of.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development
There is stiff competition for jobs within the game development industry, and those who have good formal qualifications are likely to earn more in the long-term, and may have a much better chance of getting a job, although programming skills and creativity remain highly important. The best game developers may go on to run their own development teams.
Working Conditions and Environment
Most game developers work in extremely relaxed environments, with little or no dress code. They are also likely to have comfortable offices which are well-equipped, and they are getting to do something that they are likely to really enjoy. Unfortunately they are often required to work extremely long hours by game companies anxious to release the very latest game, and this can lead to early burnout.
Salary and Benefits
The average salary for a game developer with three or less years’ experience is around $60,000, while the average salary across all experience levels is around $80,000. Some game developers earn well over $100,000, and may receive additional compensation in the form of annual bonuses, stock options, or profit-sharing. Additional benefits include medical and dental insurance and pension plans.
Where to Go for More Information
Game Developer Magazine
5218 East Terrace Dr.
Madison, WI 53718
International Game Developers Association
19 Mantua Rd.
Mt. Royal, New Jersey