To become a video game developer, you will have a passion for translating design concepts into the best possible gaming experience using expert technical skills.
You may be involved in the creation and production of games played on PCs, consoles, web browsers or mobile devices. Your detailed understanding of video game design will allow you to convert concepts, drawings and rules into addictively playable games.
If you are employed by a large company, your role will probably focus on programming, or your specialist area of programming such as network, graphic, toolchain or artificial intelligence.
If you are developing a small independent game, you may have a broader scope covering design and programming.
Here at City, University of London, our central London location and close industry ties give you the best chance of getting where you want to go.
City has been leading the UK in computer science for six decades. We helped to establish the British Computer Society, awarded some of the country’s first Computer Science degrees and today pioneer future development from our vibrant modern department.
What can I expect as a video game developer?
Developing video games is a complicated art, with no two games and no two developers exactly alike. At the beginning you are likely to specialise in one or two areas of the process. This might be 3D modelling, testing, design or programming.
Different publishers manage the game production workflow in different ways, dividing and designating areas, meaning you may be responsible for several tasks.
As a video game developer your work is likely to involve:
- Assessing video game design specifications
- Writing code to translate design concepts into a playable game
- Developing and delivering systems and code with languages such as C++ and C#
- Using application program interfaces (APIs) that allow softwares to interact
- Performing code reviews to ensure quality
- Refactoring code to improve existing code design
- Programming the game’s terrain
- Programming artificial intelligence for non-player characters.
If design is your area you could be involved with 3D modelling and software packages including Maya, 3ds Max, Cinema 4D and Blender.
If you are more of a coder, your efforts might concentrate closely on programming languages such as C++ and scripting languages including Python and Lua.
Your high performance and attention to detail will be constantly monitored. It is vital for any glitches and bugs to be detected and resolved before any game is released and your role may include additional quality testing.
Related courses at City
Whatever your level of interest in becoming a video game developer, City's courses can help you take one step closer to a career, develop specialisms that'll set you apart from the field or broaden your horizons with study in related subjects.
- MSci (Hons) Computer Science with Games Technology
- BSc (Hons) Computer Science with Games Technology
- MSc Computer Games Technology
Who can I work for as a video game developer?
Most employers in this industry are developers or publishers of games. Development studios may be owned by a single publisher or they may be independent entities. There are no geographical borders and business is conducted locally, nationally and internationally.
Production companies and studios span from microbusinesses employing fewer than five people to multinational organisations employing hundreds.
Many people work in this field on fixed-term contracts, rather than on a permanently employed basis. You may have the chance to work flexibly as a self-employed freelancer from early in your career.
What about work experience as a video game developer?
A working demo of your game programming examples is an absolute must. This can powerfully showcase your technical skill and creativity to potential employers.
Coding fluency in languages like C++, scripting experience and knowledge of specific software tools will also be useful. A portfolio of your artistic work is vital for design roles.
Traditional paid or unpaid work experience gained in industry will always be helpful. It can give you an insight into the industry and help to build a network of contacts.
A fascination with games and the industry will be a strong asset. If you professionally read and engage in online forums, you should begin to develop in knowledge and profile.
What are my prospects as a video game developer?
Your prospects as a video game developer are bright, because career progression in the industry can happen relatively fast.
Within five to seven years you may find yourself leading teams and you may reach senior level inside ten years. These roles cover technical directors, team managers and producers.
You might decide to specialise in evolving areas like wireless platforms, interactive game applications and online gaming, or you could consider setting up your own studio.