Video game developer: job description

Video game developers take a designer’s concepts and build them into a playable game for users.

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What does a video game developer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Video game developers, also known as games developers or video game programmers, write code for games for a variety of formats, such as PCs, consoles, web browsers and mobile phones. They take the video game designer’s ideas, drawings and rules, and turn them into a playable game with visuals and sound through writing code.

The work of a games developer typically involves:

  • Looking at the design specifications of video game designers
  • Writing code to turn the designer’s concepts into a playable game
  • Using application program interfaces (APIs) – a set of pre-built commands that allow different softwares to interact
  • Programming the game’s terrain
  • Programming artificial intelligence for non-player characters within the game

PayScale research suggests that games developers and programmers can earn above £30,000, even in starting roles. Find out the typical starting salaries for graduates in IT jobs here.

Typical employers of video game developers

  • Video game developing companies (known as video game developers and video game studios)
  • Video game publishers

Vacancies are advertised online – by employers and on IT jobs boards such as IT Jobs Watch – as well as by recruitment agencies, careers services and by targetjobs.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into video game development for university graduates. Other posts in related fields may be open to school leavers.

Graduates will require a degree in computer science, software engineering or a related subject. If you have an unrelated degree but are proficient in relevant programming languages and familiar with the gaming industry, you could also be eligible for entry-level positions. Work experience and a portfolio of work will become essential early on in your career in this very competitive industry.

School leavers may progress to video game development by undertaking an apprenticeship in software development or a related role. To find out how you can get into this career via a school leaver route see the IT section of TARGETcareers, our website for school leavers.

Key skills for video game developers

  • Creativity
  • A passion for video games
  • Wide-ranging knowledge of gaming trends
  • Strong analytical frame of mind
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Proficiency in programming languages, such as C# and C++

Read more about games development as a graduate area of work here.

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