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How to Become a Game Developer?

by Snehal Naik
How to become a game developer
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From the first video game created by MIT students during the 1960s to the latest games released today for popular gaming platforms, game development has come a long way. Currently, the global video game market revenue is worth $396.2 billion, and this figure is only expected to double by 2029. During the global COVID-19 pandemic, especially, gaming turned into a new, comforting hobby. As the gaming industry continues to stay healthy even after the pandemic, there have been healthy revenue projections for the video gaming industry. This indicates a booming demand for game developers. In this blog, we will get an overview of what it takes to become a successful game developer.

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Understanding the Game Development Landscape

Did you know that the gaming industry generates more revenue than movies and music combined? There are almost 2 billion mobile gamers worldwide. As one of the fastestgrowing industry sectors, game development is becoming a career choice for many developers. To become a game developer, you should have a combination of creative and technical skills. For instance, you should know the different types of game genres and their coding aspects. At the same time, a good grasp of creative concepts such as character design, is a great value add. As an aspiring game developer who is perhaps also an avid gamer, you may have developed an interest in building games from the time you started playing. 

Top Video Game Genres 

Here is a brief overview of the top video game genres with games for you to understand the game development landscape:

Sandbox: Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto, The Sims

Real-time strategy (RTS): Company of Heroes, Age of Empire, Warcraft 

Shooter (FPS and TPS): DOOM (FPS), Halo (FPS), Gears of War (TPS)

Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA): League of Legends, Smite, Dota 2

game genres

Role-playing (RPG, ARPG, and More): Skyrim, Diablo, The Witcher 3 (ARPG) 

Simulation and sports: Football Manager 2021, Cities: Skylines, NBA2K 

Puzzlers and party games: The Witness, Tetris, The Talos Principle 

Action-adventure: Assassin’s Creed, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, God of War 

Survival and horror: Resident Evil, Alien: Isolation, Minecraft 

Platformer: Sonic Mania, Shovel Knight, Dead Cells 

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How to Become a Game Developer?

The video gaming industry reported a revenue of $154.6 billion globally in 2021. As workfromhome jobs became common during and after the global COVID-19 pandemic, video games and eSports have become a mainstream entertainment option across age groups. This indicates a surge in demand for skilled professionals in the game development industry, particularly mobile gaming. Let’s look at how you can meet this demand and become a successful game developer.

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Who is a Game Developer?

A video game developer is someone who participates in all stages of game development, from concept to reality. A game developer should know how to code and program the visual elements of a game. Further, game developers are also expected to run tests that ensure the game does well on supported platforms. A game developer typically carries out the following day-to-day tasks: 

  • Developing ideas for game design 
  • Translating visual ideas into code 
  • Prototyping, iterating, and polishing gameplay 
  • Collaborating with designers, producers, artists, and quality analysts 
  • Monitoring game stability across platforms 
  • Reviewing existing code and recommending improvements 
  • Porting games or elements from one system to another 
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Top Courses to Become a Game Developer

If you are enthusiastic about imaginative game concepts and know how to convert a game concept into tangible gaming software, you are a great candidate to become a successful game developer. It all starts with earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science or related fields. Additionally, there are many paid and free courses that you can enroll for both online and offline to become proficient in game development fundamentals. A few popular courses to get you started are: 

Complete C# Unity Game Developer 2D

You can sign up for this course on Udemy and learn Unity in C#, and code your first few 2D video games for web, Mac & PC. This course does not require you to have prior programming knowledge and helps you become familiar with the Unity game engine.

The Game Design and AI Master Class Beginner to Expert

With this course, you can become an expert in using game engines like Arcade Studio and Unity3D and develop for Nintendo, Xbox, PS4, PC, Mac, iPhone, and Android. The course covers 3D game design, 2D game design, AI art, VR/AR/XR, Unity, coding, C#, game development, animation, programming, and Photoshop. For a quick peep into C#, read more here. 

Python Game Development: Build 11 Total Games

This course will teach you to build games like Mario, Angry Birds, and Flappy Bird with Python. It covers the basic logic of Python programming and covers how to make GUI games with Python.

Computer Science for Game Development

This is a self-paced course by Harvard University via the online learning platform edX. It comprises two courses: 

  • CS50’s Introduction to Computer Science 
  • CS50’s Introduction to Game Development 

The course will teach you about computer science, programming, and software development along with the fundamentals of game design and development.

Character Design for Video Games 

This course is from California Institute of the Arts via Coursera. In this course, you will learn about concepts and approaches used to create character designs that can be applied to video games.

Introduction to Augmented Reality and ARCore  

This is a course by Google Daydream Impact and Google via Coursera and teaches the fundamentals of augmented reality (AR), and how to build an AR experience using ARCore. It is a beginner level course with a flexible schedule.

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Jobs as a Game Developer

Many creative technology companies seek video game designers with both technical and creative skills to become a part of their game development team. Here are a few job profiles that can be explored, along with salary inputs as mentioned on Glassdoor.

Game Designer

The job of a Game Designer is to use their technical expertise in overseeing both the foundation and execution of the game mechanics and overall user experience.   

Average salary:  

India: ₹4L - ₹12L/yr  

USA: $73K-USD 1L/yr

Senior Game Programmer

Game Programmers are computer engineers trained in the basic languages of computer programming. They use programming knowledge to develop the software to create video games.   

Average salary:

India: ₹10 lacs /yr 

USA: $ 1 lac 

Character Artist

A 3D character artist transforms 2D illustrations and concept art, or live-action actors into 3D models using a framework. A character artist helps with the rigging, anatomical limbs, and finished textures of the models.

Average salary:

India: ₹ 61K/month 

USA: $66K - $108K/yr

Splash Artist

A Splash Artist works with game programmers and designers to take care of the look and feel of a game’s loading screens and the elements seen on that screen, such as the game’s logo, characters, and environment.  

Average salary: 

USA: $65,782 /yr 

AI Game Programmer

AI Game Programmers set up decision trees and design neural networks within the game, creating artificial nerve systems. A game programmer specialized in AI takes care of aspects like the deep impact of gameplay.

Average salary:

India: ₹27,16,528 /yr 

USA: $158,715 /yr 

Systems Designer

A Systems Designer creates software that runs a video game. Systems Designers check which game elements need artificial intelligence (AI), fighting features, scoring rules, etc. They also manage and ensure the smooth system performance of the game. 

Average salary:

India: ₹18 lacs /yr 

USA: $90623 /yr 

Salary source: Glassdoor 

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Essential Skills for Game Developers

Programming & Technical Knowledge

As an aspiring game developer, you should gain the required programming knowledge for developing games. This includes not only earning a related software/engineering degree but also gaining insights into the other aspects of game development, such as designing, technical, production, and more. 

Passion and Creativity

Technical knowledge of UI/UX and programming is essential to build a team to create technically sound games. However, you also need enthusiasm for core concepts, characters, and storylines and passion to translate the gaming concept into working code. 

Time Management

Game development companies often announce the release of games in advance. Game developers with great time management skills can efficiently work and collaborate with teams and stakeholders to create, test, and release games in time for their releases. 

Communication Skills

Working in the game development industry requires collaboration with various stakeholders. Effective communication skills promote easy collaboration between teams and help ensure that the project stays on track and the game is launched without any delays. 

Problem Solving 

With every new game development software or upgrade, there is always the possibility of bugs and glitches. Since time is of the essence, it is important to have critical thinking skills that help with efficient problem solving. In addition, attention to detail helps minimize glitches and keep the project running smoothly

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Technical Skills for Game Development

Programming Proficiency

Your ability to write code in the languages that support game development matters a lot. It increases your chances of becoming an integral part of the huge game development industry. C++, C#, Python, and Java are some popular programming languages used in game development. As a successful game developer, you should be able to write code in these languages and help create the game’s logic, graphics, and physics. 

Game Design and Game Art

Games are visual, so it is important to merge the technical aspects with the creative essentials to build an immersive gaming experience for players. Of course, it is crucial that you write clean, efficient, and well-structured code for a game. Additionally, it is also important to have a good knowledge of concept art, character design, environment design, and UI/UX design. These are concepts that help game designers put together the core gameplay, rules, and mechanics. 

3D Modeling and Animation 

As video games are all about the visual, proficiency in creating three-dimensional models of objects and characters and using 3D modeling and animation software is important. For instance, a good grasp of software like Maya and Blender or a working knowledge of rendering, rigging, and character animation can help advance your career as a game developer.  

Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

Want to be a part of a thriving gaming industry that uses cutting-edge AI to create more alive game environments? Consider getting certifications in AI and ML. In many games, AI-controlled non-player characters get their own personalities and goals through AI-generated algorithms. Artificial Intelligence helps analyze player data to discover patterns, pain points, and preferences that improve game design and create more engaging and enjoyable gameplay experiences. 

Audio Engineering 

Can you imagine playing a video game minus its compelling audio? A good game development project is one that has captivating sound effects, music, and voice acting. In fact, audio engineering and technology play a crucial role in AR, VR, and MR games. As an aspiring game developer, you could consider getting a degree or a certification in audio engineering and technology to become an active part of the gaming industry. 

Understanding of Game Engines 

Your dream to translate a creative idea into a working video game can be realized effectively with a good knowledge of game engines. Whether it is developing gaming or software for any other industry, a set of tools and libraries make complex tasks easy and doable in less time. A good understanding of game engines makes it easier for game developers to use high-quality development frameworks to develop games.  

Troubleshooting and Debugging  

Comprehensive and practical knowledge of game engines showcases your ability to handle different stages of game development, including quality assurance, launch, and post-production maintenance. Here, you can play a crucial role in the testing and maintenance stages with a keen eye for detail and the ability to spot and resolve issues.  

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Acquiring Game Development Skills

The game development industry is a dynamic landscape that requires continuous skill enhancement. Now that you have a clear overview of what it takes to become a game developer, let’s look at a few quick tips to help you launch your career as a game developer: 

Identifying Core Skills

The first step is to understand the key skill sets needed to become a game developer. Acquire the technical proficiency and develop the artistic skills needed. Game development is all about coding and programming. Earn certificates and practical knowledge of the programming languages used in game development. These include C++, C#, Python, and Java. Have a good grasp of the game engines and tools that make game development easier. Learn the nuances of 2D/3D design, animation, and visual aesthetics. Gain the required knowledge of game design with respect to storytelling, mechanics, and user experience. Lastly,  develop collaboration and communication skills by participating in teamwork and practising effective communication.

Learning Resources and Platforms  

After you have earned the basic educational qualification to enter the software development field, the next step is to look for courses and tutorials that help you become proficient in game development. You can also sign up for courses and bootcamps in programming, art, and game design. Another good idea is to build a physical library of books about game development, programming, design, and industry insights.  

Practical Application and Projects 

It all starts small. As a developer, irrespective of your domain or industry, your primary task is to showcase your coding and development skills. The first games were all a part of someone’s project and thesis. You could also consider creating personal projects that show your passion for game development. This can help you build a portfolio of personal game projects where you have applied the learned skills to real-world scenarios. Next, you can contribute to open-source projects by collaborating with the game development community. Gaining experience and exposure through contributions is a great way to apply what you have learned in your game development courses.  

Networking and Community Engagement 

Join game development forums and communities and actively participate in online forums (Unity, Unreal Engine, etc.). This will help you network with experienced professionals and peers. Additionally, you can also attend meetups and conferences related to game development along with local and international events for game developers. This can be a great opportunity for knowledge exchange and networking.

Receiving Feedback and Iteration

As an aspiring game developer, you should be open to constructive criticism. Openly share your work feedback within the community. This will promote a mindset of continuous improvement and help you enrich your career as a game developer.

Staying Updated with Industry Trends 

It is very important to know what is happening in your industry. A good way to stay updated with the game industry trends is to follow game development blogs and publications. You can also subscribe to industry blogs, podcasts, and publications. This will help you remain informed about emerging technologies and trends.

Building a Strong Online Presence 

Whether you work as an independent game developer or are employed full-time, it is important to create a professional portfolio of your completed projects, skills, and achievements. Your portfolio should also have your necessary contact information for networking opportunities.

Navigating the Job Market  

Once you have a clear picture of the skill set you have as a game developer, you can build a tailored resume and a portfolio and upload it on job portals. There are many popular platforms for game development job listings. Set up effective job alerts and filters to help you find the right job. You can explore freelance or full-time job opportunities based on your interest in game development. Before job interviews, research your potential employer to understand the company’s culture and values. Ensure that your interview responses align with company expectations. Adapt to evolving game development trends and stay updated with emerging technologies to do well in your interviews. It is also important to have a clear understanding of the industry-standard salary ranges so that you set clear salary expectations. Always aim to negotiate fair compensation and benefits.  

Building a Sustainable Career Path  

Based on your career goals, determine the long-term career goals you want to set up as a game developer. It is important to plan for career advancement and specialization as you grow in your career. Keep upgrading your skills regularly by investing time in continuous skill development.

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What Does It Mean To Be a Game Developer in 2024?

In 2024 and beyond, game developers are exploring new tech trends like integrating metaverse elements into gaming, using AI to develop game mechanics, and leveraging AR technology. In the coming years, the game development industry is expected to witness groundbreaking advancements because of these tech trends, further highlighting the industry’s ever-evolving landscape. A career as a game developer is a blend of passion, strategic career navigation, and continuous learning. Game developers who seek to be an active part of this dynamic landscape should focus on staying updated with the trends in addition to acquiring technical skills, building an impressive portfolio, and actively engaging in the game development community.

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You can pursue a degree in computer science or game development and then complete a coding or game development bootcamp. 

A bootcamp is a short-term educational program that offers practical, job-ready tech skills such as coding, full-stack development and UX/UI design. 

C# and C++ are both popular languages for game development. JavaScript, HTML5, and Python are also widely used in game development.

  • Godot 
  • Unity 
  • GameMaker 
  • CryEngine 3 
  • Amazon Game Engines 
  • Unreal Engine 

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