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The game industry holds a special place in the growing digital ecosystem. Thus, the total of games released so far has climbed to over 1,181 million and is counting.
But the swell in demand always translates into high job outlook rates for the specialists. And game developers are no exception. These professionals are coveted employees with an excellent game developer salary and career prospects to match. Therefore, game creation is an appealing professional choice among budding programmers.
Who is a game developer?
Put simply, a game programmer is a software coder who is engaged in game creation. This position includes a wide range of programming tasks that range from implementing game balance to writing controls-specific code. Also, game programmers come in different flavors based on the platform they work on. Whether it’s a console, PC, or mobile, game coders have all the skills needed to deploy the game into a specific environment.
But despite a wide range of skills a game developer needs to obtain, this role is among the most well-compensated in the software development world. Glassdoor data demonstrates that the average salary of a game developer is $71,295 per year for US employees. In other parts of the world, the numbers are lower, yet decent. Thus, a game developer in the UK gets around $53K to $64K. At the same time, Europe offers higher compensation with an average of 99,950 per year.
What skills does a game developer need?
While many people assume that game development is all about programming, there is a range of other skills that are also important. In fact, most games require teams of developers with diverse talents.
With that said, here are some of the essential skills that any beginner game developer needs to take off the ground.
Whether you have a technical background or not, coding languages are a staple for game development. Solid programming skills are essential for scripting, gameplay mechanics, and more. There are a plethora of programming languages to choose from when developing video games. Deciding on the right one can be daunting, yet, there are a few stand-out options that can be considered the industry standard in the field.
C#, C++, Java, and Python are among the traditional options when it comes to developing games. Lua and Rust have also made a dent in the market by inheriting the best from C+ and C++. Your final choice should depend on the learning curve you’re ready to tame as well as your future game development niche. Thus, if you go for mobile game development, you should also pick up additional programming syntax like Swift.
A game engine is a software framework that provides the core features necessary to develop a video game. You can get away without them, yet you’ll be reinventing the wheel each time you need to create a new game. So what makes game engines a mandate? In practice, these come in helpful for rendering graphics, collision detection, sound and physical effects, and more. Despite a wide variety of game engines, Unity, Unreal Engine, CryEngine, and Godot are the most demanded in the market.
Each has its own specifics, but there’s one thing that makes for all four. Being available to the individual developer, they all allow you to create AAA-class projects.
Qualifications and training
Statistics demonstrate that most game engineers have an academic background in computer science or related fields. But although it adds traction to your career, a BA degree isn’t mandatory to pick up game development. Most job positions are open to school leavers or people with non-technical backgrounds provided they have hands-on experience in creating projects. Moreover, there are a plethora of both free and paid courses that will get you from zero to hero in game creation.
Exhaustive knowledge of gaming trends
Besides hard skills, you should also keep up with evolving patterns and trends in the gaming world. Forces that shape the current market should be reflected in your skills, thus keeping you relevant in the job market. By analyzing the look and feel of popular games, you’ll be able to enhance your storytelling skills and have a holistic view of bankable game mechanics and such.
The Bottom Line
Becoming a game developer is a lucrative, yet thorny path. So what does it take to get a six-figure compensation? A winning combination of popular programming languages, deep knowledge of game engines, gaming trends, and analytical abilities will make you a demanded game coder. Scripting and design capabilities as well as an understanding of the different hardware platforms will also make a valuable addition to your portfolio.