Video game development has become a popular career in the past few decades thanks to the rise in gaming across the world. I mean, who the hell wouldn’t want to be paid for something they’re already really interested in as a hobby, right? It’s like being a pro golfer, who earns money doing something millions of people do in their spare time.
For those who are thinking about going into a career in video game development, we’re hear to help get you closer to that dream, as we breakdown all the information you need to know in order to get there. It won’t be easy — really, though, is anything? — but if you’re passionate about doing something interesting, fun and rewarding, video game development can satisfy all those needs.
After recently reading about one of the hottest game development companies on the planet, Supercell, creating a free coding school to help overcome a labor shortage, here’s everything you need to know to work in video game development yourself. Yeah, all of a sudden work wouldn’t sound so awful, would it?
What skills are necessary for a video game development career?
Sorry to burst your bubble, but if math isn’t your strong suit, finding a career in video game development might not be the best option for you. That’s because understanding how to create mathematical equations for coding purposes is one of the first skills that all video game developers need to know how to do. If you haven’t had a high level of success in classes like trigonometry, physics, and calculus, this type of career probably isn’t for you, unfortunately.
Additionally, those going into a career in video game development should be critical thinkers, be good at problem solving, have quality control analysis, advanced computer skills and know how to “speak” in computer programming languages — such as C, C++, Perl, Assembly, and Lua.
Of course, even if you need a refresher course in some of these practices, there are online courses available to help. But, generally speaking, if you’re thinking about going from a career in a creative field to one that’s more analytical and math-based, it can be difficult.
What’s defined as a career in video game development?
Similar to how a restaurant is run — where there’s a chef, sous chef, managers and servers, so, too, is a team in video game development. That’s because there are so many moving parts in creating just a single video game that it can’t be done by just one person.
Some of the top careers in video game development are as follows:
- Video Game Designer
- Video Game QA Tester
- Video Game Programmer
- Video Game Artist/Animator
- Video Game Audio Engineer
- Video Game Producer
Of course, there are others within the industry, but those tend to be the most popular for people within the video game development career field. Each has its own qualifications and requirements, as well as importance, with a full breakdown of responsibilities being able to be found here, on the Game Industry Career Guide website.
Is there a typical path one in video game development follows?
Outside of getting a college degree in an area of study like computer science or computer engineering, which is the minimum requirement for a career in video game development, it’s important to get an internship and then build a portfolio of work. Understanding the qualifications early on will go a long way in getting you on the right path in video game development.
Along with the right college degree and portfolio, one of the most critical factors in getting yourself a career in video game development is an internship. Similar to other career paths, having an internship will only help increase your chances of landing an entry-level job. Not only can an internship help in building connections at video game companies, but, more importantly, you’ll gain firsthand experience with requisite skills like C++, 3D graphics, artificial intelligence, and physics as well as strong problem-solving skills.
For those looking to get into video game development, some of the major companies in the industry, like EA Games, LucasArts and Insomniac Games, among others, are typically always looking for aspiring video game development candidates. Those brands may feel overwhelming to apply to, but many of those opportunities can lead to work with smaller gaming companies following the completion of your internship.
How much money does one make in video game development?
As we all know, no salary is created equal. Sure, it’d be nice to be a writer in small town Texas making the same amount as a writer in New York City, but, sadly, where you live plays a major factor with how much you earn — and the same holds true when it comes to video game development. So, too, does the level of experience and your specific title.
For a general estimation of how much one can earn in a career in video game development, here’s a quick breakdown of estimated salaries, which are all in US dollars.
- Video Game Designer Salary = $50,000 annually for entry-level, with the possibility of growing to well over $100,000 per year for senior designers or designers leading teams.
- Video Game QA Tester Salary = $18,000 annually as a starting salary, with the highest-end topping out around $55,000 per year for more experienced lead testers. It’s important to remember that video game QA testers are typically part-time roles.
- Video Game Programmer Salary = $44,000 annually for entry-level game programmers, with the possibility to hit over $120,000 per year for those with senior-level experience or who are leading programming teams.
- Video Game Artist/Animator Salary = $35,000 per year for entry-level artists/animators, with more senior-level roles earning as much as $90,000. Like other jobs, this one really depends on your title, as words like assistant, lead and senior can make a big difference with how much you earn.
- Video Game Audio Engineer Salary = $20,000 annually for those starting their career as a video game audio engineer, with a chance to grow to over $100,000 per year if on a senior level.
While salaries in the video game development field look appealing, remember that it takes plenty of experience to move from an entry-level position to a director or lead role, so you’ll be paying your dues earlier on.