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Videogame Developer

(aka: Programmer, Software Engineer, Game Developer)

Your parents told you they'd rot your brain. In their defense, it's unlikely mom and dad could have foreseen the digital explosion that has turned the videogame industry into a multi-billion dollar juggernaut that employs over 120,000 people in the United States alone. We've come a long way since Zelda and NHL '94 (one-timers FTW!)

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What do Videogame Developers do?

  • Write computer code. Videogames are nothing more than computer programs, often written in the same programming languages that run less entertaining programs such as, say, Excel or TurboTax. The output may be flashier, but videogame developers still spend much of their day neck-deep in code.
  • Work with game artists and designers. Bringing a videogame to market is a collaborative exercise, and game developers must work closely with the artists and designers whose concepts and characters they are tasked with bringing to life.
  • Test gameplay features, and fix bugs. Identifying the source of bugs can be one of the more tedious tasks, often requiring deep dives into millions of lines of source code.
  • Crush Red Bulls. The work requires long hours, often producing code that is complex and tedious. Late nights are a virtual certainty. Take heart in knowing, however, that the profession has one of the highest reported rates of job satisfaction.

How much do Videogame Developers make?

One of the major draws of working in this technical and competitive industry is that videogame developers tend to be extremely well paid. Even junior developers at mid-level gaming studios can often find themselves earning in the 6-figures. A 2011 study reported the following average salaries for various positions in gaming development: Game Developer ($93,000), Artists & Animators ($75,800), Game Designers ($73,400), Producers ($88,500), Audio Engineer ($83,200).

How do I become a Video Game Developer?

Education Requirements. "Videogame Developer" sounds a lot sexier than "Software Engineer", but the truth is that there isn't much difference between the two. Or, more accurately, the former is merely a subset of the latter: videogame developers are computer programmers often trained in traditional coding who have decided to focus on the gaming niche. As with many programming jobs, there are no specific educational requirements to work in game simply have to be good at what you do. That being said, having an Associate's or Bachelor's degree serves as an indicator to prospective employers that you have a minimum level of programming ability, and can serve as a decent foot-in-the-door if you don't have a library of previous gaming projects you can point to.

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