You know that one game that made you fall in love with the idea of creating video games? Maybe it’s Red Dead Redemption 2 or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or the number-one-selling game worldwide: Minecraft. Perhaps it was something completely unique, such as the rarest indie treasure that speaks to your heart despite staying out of the mainstream.
The point is, if you've researched ways to work in the GameDev industryExternship with TripleTen: Allcorrect Games, there was probably a game that mesmerized you. And maybe you’ve been dreaming of creating something similar ever since.
You're not alone. Many people now working in game development have had the same experience. So if you aspire to contribute your creativity to this dynamic industry, don’t worry; there’s a well-beaten path to find your dream job in GameDev.
Keep reading to see how to transform your passion into a rewarding career.
The many roles within the GameDev industry
GameDev, short for game development, is the process of creating and designing video games. Storytellers, designers, and developers collaborate to bring game ideas to life. Games often have a team of specialists to, including:
- Game Designer: Creates the core concept and mechanics of the game to ensure that it’s engaging and enjoyable.
- Programmer: Writes the code for the game using programming languages and handles aspects like gameplay, physics, AI, and more.
- Artist: Develops visual elements, such as characters, environments, and props, using 2D or 3D art and animation techniques.
- Sound Designer: Creates sound effects, music, and voiceovers for the game’s atmosphere and immersion.
- Writer: Develops the game’s narrative, including storylines, lore, character arcs, and dialogues.
- QA Tester: Tests gameplay, performance, and compatibility to ensure the game is free of bugs.
Note: Game development and game design are different aspects of the game creation process.
- Game development is about creating code. It’s the technical and programming side of building a video game. (e.g. game engine, AI behavior, and so on)
- Game design is about creating rules. It’s the process of designing the gameplay, storyline, objectives, and overall experience of the game.
Essentially, game developers only work on code-based games. Game designers also create tabletop games, party games, and other non-programmable games.
While the roles of artists, sound/game designers, and writers are immense, we’re going to focus on the technical side of game development.
What you need to know before joining GameDev
To break into the game development industry, it’s beneficial to have gaming experience. Familiarity with a wide range of game genres and styles helps newcomers grasp the important aspects of good gameplay. Also, knowing different styles of games helps you identify industry trends and potential areas for innovation.
For industry newcomers, possibly the best way to start working in GameDev is to become a quality assurance (QA) technician. This position helps even non-programming beginners gain insider knowledge of the game production process. Working as testers, individuals familiarize themselves with crucial development milestones and learn how different components come together to create a complete gaming experience.
In the end, the core requirement for game development roles is, of course, coding skillsThe Ultimate Guide to Learning How to Code: Unleash Your Coding Potential. Let’s now dive deeper into what the technical side of the industry looks like.
Most common video game development tools
At the heart of any video game, there’s the game engine — the software that developers use to build the game’s mechanics. The engine is responsible for handling tasks like physics simulation, rendering graphics, and player control.
According to GameDeveloper.com, Unreal is the most popular engine, used in 25.6% of games. Unity is the second with 13.2%. However, Unreal Engine isn't available for free. We recommend that beginners start with free engines that come with clear documentation, such as Construct 2, Pygame, and LÖVE.
Check out the table below to learn more of the most popular game engines.
Still, an engine is just a tool. In order to fully utilize its capabilities and start building a game, a developer needs to write code. Their coded commands tell the engine how the game’s mechanics, physics, user controls, and other components should work.
Code is written in one of the programming languages. The choice of language depends on the game engine used for the project, as certain engines have a native or preferred language. As you can see in the table above, Unity runs on C# while Unreal Engine primarily uses C++.
Here are the key differences between the mentioned languages:
- C#Thinking about Getting into IT? Try C#: This is the primary language for indie developers who prefer using Unity due to its free features. C# boasts a clean, easy-to-understand syntax. It’s often chosen for developing games suited to various platforms (PC, consoles, mobile).
- C++Programming Languages 101: Super Easy Explanation of C++ for Beginners: This is the main programming language used in Unreal Engine and many in-house engines of large studios. Compared to C#, it lets programmers control the device “down to the metal” with all its hardware. However, C++ is fairly complex for beginners.
- PythonA Brief Introduction to Python — the universal programming language: This language is not widely known for game development, yet it allows developers to create simple and moderately complex games. Python’s readability and ease of use may appeal to beginners, but it’s not as performant or extensively adopted in the industry as C++ or C#.
- Lua: Although not the typical language for GameDev, Lua excels at handling game logic, AI, and configuration settings. Its lightweight nature and ease of integration make it a popular choice for modding, scripting, and customization. The biggest downside is that Lua performs the poorest of the bunch in terms of market prospects.
Where to learn game development skills
If you have zero experience with coding, your main task is to master programming skills first. One surefire way to do this is by completing online courses.
TripleTen’s Software Engineering Bootcamp is a comprehensive program designed for beginners who want to work as programmers and coders. The curriculum includes theory, practice, and project-based learning. Students also receive line-by-line code reviews from professional software engineers, helping them further refine their skills.
The bootcamp provides career support, such as guidance for resume and cover letter writing, LinkedIn profile creation, mock interviews, and job searching. Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to work on real-life projects through externships at actual companies. Our bootcamp graduates enjoy an 89% employment rate.
And if you don’t secure a job within six months of graduation, you’re eligible for a tuition refund.
As soon as you’re comfortable with coding, the next step is to move toward game development. You'll find that the internet is a treasure trove of educational tutorials, guides, and other resources. For example, take advantage of the official documentation from game engine developers:
Engaging with fellow developers through online communities such as Reddit, Discord, and YouTube helps GameDev beginners build connections and improve their skills. Another option is to participate in game development events or hackathons. They expand your portfolio, and some collaborations might even lead to potential employment offers.
To track event announcements, as well as recent news and open positions in companies, check out GameDeveloper.com (formerly Gamasutra) and GameDev.net. Both websites are invaluable sources of industry knowledge.
How to get a job as a video game developer
So, you’re finally ready to make the leap into the game development world. Practice and experience are your best bet. So here’s a roadmap to get started working in GameDev.
- Master coding skills: Begin by learning popular programming languages ― such as C++, C#, or Python ― that are widely used in the game development industry. Look up online coding coursesEmbark on a Coding Adventure in 2023: The Ultimate Guide to Start Coding and tutorials to help you get started.
- Work with game engines: After you master the programming language(s) required for the game engine of your choice, start improving your game development skills.
- Build a portfolio: Showcase your expertise by creating a portfolioHow TripleTen’s Career Center Helps You Land a Job of prototypes or completed games. If coding is all you can do, don’t worry; there are lots of free graphic and audio assets to use for your projects.
- Gain relevant experience: Look for internships, part-time jobs, or volunteer opportunities to gain hands-on experience in the gaming industry.
- Network: Attend industry events and hackathons, join online forums, and engage with fellow developers on social media.
By the way, working in a big GameDev studio is not the only option. Those who want more artistic independence might consider working as indie developers instead of joining established teams.
Your GameDev journey starts with Software Engineering skills
Coding is essential for those who create video games. So, before you start working on your GameDev skills, you need to learn how to develop software.
Don’t know where to start? Join our Software Engineering bootcamp. After completing this program, you’ll be able to build applications from scratch. This will give you enough expertise to find work as a junior software developer — a stable, fulfilling career that will further fund your steps toward working as a game developer.
Finally, from a software engineer’s standpoint, it’s much easier to navigate the world of game development. With a programmer’s expertise, you’ll find it easy to compare the functionality and convenience of different game engines, programming languages, and frameworks.
The important takeaway is to remember to take small steps toward your goal. With passion, you'll soon make your dream of becoming a video game developer a reality. Good luck!