Game Developer Jobs

Do you like killing for fun?

No, not the shovel-it-in-the-backyard-of-the-neighbor kind of killing.

We are talking about gaming here!

Are you here because you want to create a video game?

Who are the heroes who stand behind the vibrant gaming industry?

They provide people with a time-consuming hobby, stress relief, and let’s be honest – a platform to kill for fun…

Are you wondering how many people play video games?

Are you interested in game developer jobs

Let’s get started with some video gaming stats:

  • The global game market revenue is forecast to reach $196 billion by 2022.
  • There are now over 2.5 billion gamers worldwide.
  • In the US, the average salary for a game developer is $56,000.
  • DOTA 2 is the highest paying esports game, with prize money exceeding $218 million.
  • Los Angeles is the US city with the most gaming job opportunities.
  • The top city for augmented reality and VR gaming jobs is New York.
  • About 2,457 companies are in the US video game industry.
  • 29% of all gamers are Millennials (18-34-year-old), while 27% are Gen Z (13-17-year-old).
  • Among the best game developers are Nintendo, Bethesda, Naughty Dog, and Valve.

Here you will find a detailed job description and lots of useful information about game development jobs.

Even if you are a beginner, you’ll find out the path you’ll need to walk to become a specialist in this field.

Game Developer Jobs In a Nutshell 

In short, a team of game developers has the goal to transform a game designer’s concept into a playable end product.

You need these main skills to be a game developer: 

  • Proficiency in programming languages like C, C++, Java, Python; 
  • Good understanding of math; 
  • Familiarity with game engines; 
  • Analytical and communication skills; 
  • Creativity 

The annual salary of game developers ranges from $59,000 to $161,100.

How to Become a Game Developer [For Beginners]

Are you wondering how to start a career in video games? Maybe you’ve just graduated or want to change fields. Or… maybe your passion for games doesn’t stop at playing them – you want to create them!

So start with these questions:

Are you an avid gamer who’s willing to spend as much time learning as playing – or even more?

Do you want a career that’s both highly technical and creative?

If yes, read on.

You need to understand the market and get as much relevant experience as possible if you want to break into the games industry.

First, if you want to become a game developer, it’s key to be a coding enthusiast, as the job comes with lots of coding. You can imagine – beautiful, intricate games aren’t easy to make. So you better get familiar with (for starters) at least one programming language, such as C++, C#, Java, Python, etc.

Another important skill is a good understanding of game engines, which control the flow of the game. Some companies make and use their own bespoke game engines, while others choose already existing and available ones, such as Unity and Unreal.

It’s also a good idea to decide whether you want to focus on 2D games or 3D games.

Small independent game projects need their staff to know a bit of everything. Larger game studios, on the other hand, usually have in-house teams of software engineers who develop all the different elements.

Typical employers include video game developing companies (video game developers and video game studios) and video game publishers.

Vacancies are advertised online by employers and on IT job boards, by recruitment agencies, and career services. We have a job board here on Leftronic as well.

So:

Who Can Apply For Junior Game Developer Jobs?

Both students and graduates are welcome! There are many opportunities such as game developer internships, industrial placements, and graduate schemes.

Some employers consider hiring young people an advantage because games are mostly played by people in their early 20s.

If you’re looking to fill one of the entry-level game developer jobs, you’ll usually need a technical degree, such as Computer Science, Math, Physics, Engineering, or Games Development with a technology focus.

It is possible to apply for jobs in video games with no experience and even if you’re a school leaver. Still, it highly depends on the employers and their requirements. It will give you a great advantage to have done one or more of the following:

  • An internship
  • A university placement
  • Developing your own game independently
  • Participating in game jams and hackathons
  • Taking certificate courses

Moreover, apart from technical skills, possessing some soft skills is also desirable:

  • A passion for video games (but not an obsession!)
  • Good knowledge of gaming trends
  • Efficient communication skills
  • Creativity
  • An analytical mind
  • A good team player mentality

So if you’re looking to have a chance with game developer jobs at entry-level, work hard on your tech skills. That said, it’s worth it to keep your soft skills up to par as well – you’re going to be working in a team, after all.

Here are some additional tips on how to increase your chances to get one of the jobs a gaming company can offer:

  • Post your work on discussion boards – persist and you’ll get noticed and build useful connections in the industry.
  • Make your own little games – you’ll gain experience and get noticed! (there are many free game dev tools you can use)
  • Get an entry-level job as a game tester – it’s the easiest to get (no degree or experience required, and everyone can apply!)
  • Get a job at a gaming studio in a non-game dev position – maybe you’ll start as support staff and go up from there.

Once you get inside and become visible in the gaming industry world, it gets easier!

Just keep in mind that game programmer is one of the more difficult positions that usually require more education and experience.

Now, let’s dig even deeper into the game developer’s world.

Game Developer Job Description

What does a game developer do?

Can YOU do it?

Please keep in mind that this is only a general job description. Every employer will have different criteria for hiring.

Game Developer: THE Job Description

Game developers, video game developers, video game programmers… those tireless heroes have many names!

A game developer is a person who takes the video game designer’s ideas, drawings, and guidelines. After that writes the code that will run the game.

Game developers, similarly to app developers, use collections of libraries (ready-made code), on top of which to develop their games. A set of libraries that can help you develop a complete game is called a game engine.

The game engine handles many tasks such as input, networking, physics, graphics, scripts, etc. Among the most popular engines are the Cryengine, Source, Unity, and the Unreal Engine.

It’s crucial to get familiar with them if you’re after video game developer jobs. They’ll often be the foundations of your games.

So, what else do game developers do as part of their job every day?

Game Dev Jobs

Daily Activities of Game Developers

Let’s see what the daily activities of game developers are.

Here are the main game developer responsibilities:

Planning game projects

  • Looking at design specifications of video game designers
  • Planning the storyline, characters, environment, activities, scoring, and progression
  • Breaking the project down into smaller tasks
  • Creating a schedule with estimated timelines
  • Setting milestones
  • Creating prototypes

Once they have the main picture, game developers decide what kind of game developer software to use. This is the game engine. The right choice depends on whether you want to make a 2D or 3D game, the genre of the game, and the devices you want it to be played on. Apart from the already mentioned game engines, GameMaker: Studio and Stencyl are also very popular. There are numerous engines to suit everyone. 

And if game devs want to create something truly revolutionary, they can create a brand new engine that fits their goals.

Designing the game

  • Coordinating with visual designers.
  • Using computer applications to make 2D and 3D models of game assets, scenery, characters.
  • Creating graphics for game art and maps.
  • Animating the characters and designing environments.

For small projects, one person can do various tasks, while in bigger organizations, there are separate game design jobs

Writing code skills: 

  • Deciding on the most suitable programming languages for the game’s target platform.
  • Writing code in a variety of programming languages (C++, C#, Java, Python, Swift, JavaScript).
  • Using application program interfaces (APIs) – a set of pre-built commands that allow different software to interact.
  • Programming the game’s terrain.
  • Programming AI (artificial intelligence) for non-player characters in the game.

Game programmers have one of the most responsible tasks and can spend a lot of time improving their code. 

Testing and debugging games:

  • Using automated testing tools to check for broken features and functionality
  • Inspecting the code for errors
  • Handling requests to fix performance and reliability issues

Then we’ve come to the game tester jobs. After game testers have tested the game before it goes to the public, game developers fix and improve the game.

Maintaining game projects

  • Handling new feature requests and making improvements to the game.
  • Producing add-ons and game packs.
  • Making updates to introduce new levels and characters.
  • Adding online gameplay functionality.

Even when the game is released in the wild, the job is not over. You have to take care of your creation and think of new ways to enhance it. This keeps the users’ interest strong and the profits coming in.

Key Areas of Expertise of Game Developers

Game developers need to have good knowledge of at least 1-2 programming languages. More often than not, those tend to be C# and C++, though it does depend on the platform. Some idea of low-level programming (Assembler) might be good too, just so they know how things work under the hood.

Since you’re not going to be writing games from scratch, any familiarity with development frameworks, such as Unity or Unreal Engine is always a plus. (Of course, given that the company you’re interested in actually uses the framework.)

Then, depending on your actual position and tasks, some fluency in algebra, calculus, and even mechanical physics can prove useful.

And, of course, creativity is the driving force behind all that.

That’s why when companies want to hire a game developer, they better offer a really nice salary!

Speaking of which…

Game Developer Jobs Salary Breakdown

What is the highest paying job in the gaming industry? That can easily be game programmer/developer.

Game developer salary range:

The median annual game developer salary is around $101,800. It can vary between $59,000 and over $161,100 – for the highest earners.

Here are the lowest and highest salaries you can expect in your game developer career depending on the city, state, as well as your experience and position:

An entry-level video game programmer with less than 1 year of experience earns an average total of $53,949.

For a game programmer with 1-4 years of experience, that figure is at $65,227.

As you enter the bracket of 5-9 years of experience, your average salary will be about $72,999.

Finally, once you get 10 years of experience under your belt, your income tends to gravitate around $85,000.

In Boston, Massachusetts, employees in this position earn an average of 27.7% more than the national average.

Game developer jobs in NYC can bring you 22.5% more earnings.

Meanwhile, the lowest salaries are found in Austin, Texas – 7.4% less.

The video game graphic designer’s salary is on average $63,781. It can start at $39k and go up to $102k.

The video game tester salary ranges between $18,000 and $55,000.

And if you want to work for some big names, game companies in San Diego are big on quality. Among them are Sony, Disney, Rockstar, and Activision (High Moon).

Or maybe you wish to work remotely as a freelancer?

Freelance Game Developing

When you’re in game development, it looks like a good opportunity to work remotely. You only need a computer, right? Well, not exactly.

Not everyone can comfortably be a freelancer. Self-discipline is crucial.

So let’s consider the pros and cons of remote game developer jobs. This can reveal to you whether you’re freelancer material.

Pros of Freelance Game Developer Jobs

  • Freedom to choose your clients and projects
  • Getting experience with a wider variety of projects
  • No commuting
  • Flexible schedule
  • Ability to travel and work
  • Unlimited working potential
  • No face-to-face contacts with clients and colleagues (might be a pro or a con)
  • Fewer expenses (depends)
  • Setting your own prices – no fixed game programmer salary
  • Getting various experience

These are some of the most common pros of freelancing.

However, don’t be quick to search for “game developer jobs near me.” Take a look at the drawbacks first.
Cons of Freelance Game Developer Jobs

  • Inconsistent payments
  • Lack of security and reliability
  • No face-to-face contact with clients and colleagues (again)
  • Poor communication (depends)
  • No paid time off
  • No health insurance included in your video game job salary
  • Searching for new projects constantly
  • A feeling of isolation, loneliness, and missing out sometimes
  • Not being part of a working place community
  • Unreliable clients sometimes
  • Highly competitive field
  • No fixed working hours – a tendency to overwork

As you can see, there are always cons next to the pros. Only you can decide if freelancing fits your character and lifestyle.

Freelance positions are especially suitable for younger people, for example, or those who travel a lot and want more freedom.

Of course, it’s a decision you can always change. You can always try working as a freelancer for a couple of years. If you decide it’s not for you, you can switch to a non-remote position. Some, especially later in life, like the idea of having the security of a steady income, insurance, and paid vacation.

So look at freelancing from both sides and choose the most important aspects for you in your current stage of life.

Game Developer Careers

Now let’s see what kind of careers you can choose from.

Game development jobs can be:

Game designer

Video game designers are among the dream jobs for gamers. Specific subsets of those are lead designers and level designers.

Designers express their creativity through developing game concepts, storylines, and characters. They collaborate with other members of the development team like game artists, programmers, and audio engineers.

It is a highly competitive role, so all related experience you can get is valuable.

Software developer/computer programmer

They implement the game designers’ visions for their final products.

Developers work with designers to agree on what’s actually possible to accomplish and how. Then they write the code that determines how the game will behave.

Of course, this is a really simplistic way of putting it. Still, if you’ve wondered what makes a game run, you might have the makings of a software developer.

Game artists and animators

Animators are responsible for the visual aspect of a game. They use specialized software to design the objects in the game and animate any behavior the game needs them to have. These objects include any game characters and anything from the game environment.

Video game playtesters

Just because a game is finished doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Chances are, it never will be. Nevertheless, companies need game testers who will take the actual games for a spin and evaluate the gameplay.

They can give suggestions on how to improve the gameplay, as well as find bugs. As bugs are identified, testers report them to developers and designers.

Video game audio engineer

One audio engineer alone can work on multiple projects and teams, so it’s a highly competitive role. Audio engineers collaborate with the team to create the soundtrack and sound effects for the game. They use specialized hardware and software for the job.

Video game producer

The producer’s role is to guide the team, plan the daily tasks and deal with the management. And to make sure the vision of the game is being followed.

Entry-level game producers are sometimes called associate producers and are focused more on the bigger picture and schedules.

Senior producers become “product owners” and concentrate on the long-term planning and sometimes even the financing part of the game project.

These are the main game developer jobs, but there are more.

You can start as an intern (for example, a virtual reality intern), tech support, assistant, game tester… and grow to become a game developer manager or even the highest-paid video game developer in the world!

Game Developer Jobs Salary Range 

The salaries for game development jobs vary according to your experience. That said, salaries can be a bit higher or lower, depending on the state and city in the US.

Here is where you’ll find the highest game developer salary in 2019:

  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • New York, New York
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Seattle, Washington

Are you already thinking about moving there?

The top game developers with years of experience can get as much as $161,100 a year.

Freelance Game Developer Jobs

Video game jobs you can work from home do exist!

Before searching for remote game developer jobs though, think about the implications of such a job.

We’ve already discussed the pros and cons of working as a freelancer. Now, let’s consider the job itself.

You don’t need a large office or much equipment to build a game. You need a desk and a computer. You also need a game engine, be it free or paid, or made by you. So far so good.

However, it’s rare that you’ll do the job alone. Usually, you’re part of a team, sometimes small, sometimes bigger. You need good communication with your manager and your colleagues to discuss ideas and collaborate. Otherwise, you might waste time and have to redo your work.

And that is true for each stage of creating the game. So it will be way easier for you to be present in the office together with everyone than trying to reach them on Skype, Messenger, Slack, and so on.

That said, as you get to know the rest of your team, it gets easier to communicate even via chat. That’s why lots of companies allow for home office days for their employees.

Game Developer Jobs: Education 

OK, back to school. Here is what you need to learn if you’re after video game programmer jobs.

Game developers usually get a Bachelor’s degree in Game Development, Computer Science, Game Design, or a related subject. You get the idea.

All these curriculums include courses in Programming Languages, Algorithms, Software Engineering, Graphics, Data Structures, and Mathematics.

Game-focused ones may also include specialized training in 2D and 3D modeling, animation, game design theory, game engines, and game production.

If you follow this up with a related Master’s degree, it can help you stand out and potentially lead you to higher positions.

However, a degree is not a must. It is possible to get a job in game development without one.

For example, school leavers might progress to video game development jobs by undertaking an apprenticeship in software development or a related role.

Or if you have an unrelated degree, but are proficient in some relevant programming languages (like C, C++, Java, Lua) and are familiar with the gaming industry, you could be eligible for entry-level positions.

Even if you don’t have coding skills yet, there are many online courses available. This lets you take matters in your own hands. Just make sure to take note of the requirements of the job and of employers and work hard to meet them. Obtain the needed certifications and self-taught skills and you’ll be unstoppable!

Once you’re ready to invest in your growth, with the help of strong will and patience, you can achieve anything. Always find new ways to test yourself and learn!

Having some work experience and an impressive portfolio will open doors in this competitive industry.

In short, all experience is valuable! Diligence and curiosity will certainly pay off.

Game Developer Skills

Now let’s focus on the specific skills you need.

Game Developer Technical Skills

Key technical skills game developers need to have are:

  • Advanced computer skills with at least one, and hopefully a few programming languages – C++, C#, Java, Python, Swift, JavaScript, Perl, Assembly, Lua, etc.
  • High-level math skills
  • Quality control analysis
  • Operations analysis
  • Systems evaluation
  • 2D and 3D design
  • Good understanding of a game engine or a few of them (Unity, Unreal, Cryengine, Source, RPG Maker, etc.)

You can’t avoid math in this job because it is in the core of coding. So it is essential to get started with it early and take all the necessary courses, starting with calculus, trigonometry, and physics. Get familiar with linear algebra and basic algorithms too.

Develop your skills related to object-oriented design, game algorithms, computer graphics, and network fundamentals as well. The greater set of skills you have, the more flexible and productive you can be.

You need to be able to work on your own and proofread your code, as well as analyze your work objectively and think of ways to improve it.

When you know how every part of this elaborate gaming machine works – the code, the engines, etc. – then you’ll easily see the connections between them and make changes.

But technical skills are not everything. No one will want to hire a game developer without any soft skills.

Game Developer Non-technical Skills 

Most of these are the same for many types of jobs but some are specific to game developers. Here are the soft skills that will give you an advantage:

  • A passion for video games
  • Good knowledge of gaming trends
  • Efficient communication skills
  • A good team player mentality
  • Analytical and critical thinking, good judgment and problem solving
  • Decision-making
  • Organization skills
  • Creativity

If you want to work in the gaming industry, you’ll most likely be interested in it and have some knowledge by default. Keep up with the trends and don’t forget why you love this job.

Communication and team player skills are always high on the list, and for a reason. If you think all you’ll do is sit in front of a screen all day and never speak to anyone, think again! You’ll often work in a team and have to collaborate with a varying amount of people. Good communication makes everything work smoothly.

You also need to be able to analyze your own work, think of ways to deal with obstacles as they come, and take quick decisions. If you love challenges and problem-solving, choosing among these game development jobs will feel like being a kid in a candy store.

It’s also preferable to have good organization skills so you can manage your time well and work efficiently alone and with the team. Splitting everything into small tasks and setting due dates helps keep everyone organized.

Last but definitely not least, you need to be creative – after all, we’re talking about creating fun games here! And creativity will also help you come up with solutions and overcome obstacles.

Conclusion

Who doesn’t like video games? Playing them is fun, but creating them –  well, that’s something you can be proud of!

It’s definitely not easy, but if you’re good at it, your games will make millions of people happy. Just imagine!

Now you know what game developers do exactly, how you can get a game developer career, what skills you need, what range of salaries to expect in the field, and much more.

The most important thing from today is that you are already starting to realize if this job is for you. You also know whether you want to work remotely or in-house.

If developing games seems like something you’d love to do, go ahead and take a look at some job postings, starting with those here on Leftronic.

Harness your passion for tech and apply for your dream job so that it feels more like having fun and less like working!

And, you’ll have the appreciation of gamers around the globe!

Either way, good luck!

FAQ

Q: How do you become a game developer?

A: Get fluent in at least one programming language that’s popular among game developers. Then start playing around with side projects – this will allow you to build a portfolio. Your portfolio, in turn, will help you when you start applying for game developer internships or entry-level positions. At this point, you’ll be well on your way to become an experienced game developer.

Q: What skills do you need to be a game developer?

A: You need proficiency in programming languages such as C, C++, Java, and Python; good understanding of game engines, creativity, communication skills, critical thinking, and knowledge of gaming industry trends. Maybe some advanced math skills, depending on which aspect of the game you’ll want to develop.

Q: What jobs are there in the gaming industry?

A: Game developer, game designer, game artist/animator, game sound engineer, game tester, game producer, and so on – the options are many. Which would be a good fit depends on your particular set of skills, as well as your level of experience.

Q: How do I get a job in the gaming industry?

A: See potential employers’ requirements. Become fluent in a programming language that’s popular in the industry, but also one you find interesting. Work on a variety of different projects to round off your skills and build confidence. Share your work online and become visible in the gaming industry – this will allow you to create valuable connections. And of course, search regularly for game developer jobs online – including here on Leftronic.

Q: Are game developers in demand?

A: There is a huge demand for game developers, yes. Since the number of gamers worldwide is expected to rise up to 2.7 billion by 2021, small and big gaming companies alike are competing for their attention with an ever-increasing zeal. They need programmers to feed those ambitions. One of them can be you if you start on that road today.