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.
Games developers tend to be distinct from games designers, who focus on the structure of a game and its overall look. Developers take these ideas and use code to turn them into playable games with visuals and sound.
Typical duties include:
- Using game engines to build games, and elements within them, by writing code based on designers’ concepts.
- Attending regular meetings with other developers and other colleagues to discuss progress and resolve problems and share expertise.
- Fixing bugs and rewriting code to improve the final game.
- Carrying out testing throughout the development process.
- Working with other creatives, such as graphic designers and animators.
The extent to which you can specialise depends on the size and nature of the organisation you work for. For an indie developer, you could handle all the programming for a project while at a large games studio with many developers, you’re likely to be able to focus on a particular aspect of coding.
Salary survey websites suggest that earnings for junior or graduate games developers tend to be around £25,000. This will increase as you gain experience, which can happen quickly due to the hands-on, collaborative nature of the role.
Typical employers of video game developers
- Video game developing companies (known as video game developers and video game studios.
- Video game publishers.
- Marketing firms and advertising agencies.
- Universities and educational institutions.
- Elearning providers.
- Central government.
With experience, you could become self-employed and choose the clients and products you’d prefer to work on. To do this, you’ll need to be able to manage your own workload and finances as well as have excellent technical skills. As with most freelance and contract work, you’ll also need to keep an active network to help you find work.
Vacancies are advertised on
, via careers services and through university departments. You’ll also find vacancies advertised by specialist recruitment agencies and IT job sites.
Jobs with small studios may not be advertised widely – if at all – so contacts, including those in your university department and those developed during periods of work experience, will be essential when you’re starting your career.
Qualifications and training required
There are routes into video game development for university graduates and school leavers.
Graduates will generally need a degree in computer science, software engineering or a related subject such as physics or mathematics. 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 be essential early on in your career in this very competitive industry. School leavers can progress to video game development by undertaking an apprenticeship in software development or a related role.
Key skills for video game developers