When we talk about a career in IT, the first profession that comes to mind is a programmer. However, the industry offers much more options. Besides, even programmers can be engaged in absolutely different projects. For instance, some of them work exclusively on website development, mobile apps, software for corporations, and others in game development. If you love games, whether these are mobile, PC, or console video games, you should consider namely this direction in the IT industry to combine your hobby with a profitable and promising specialization.
It is a complex process that can be performed by one person or a company. In our days, it is more common for the game development process to involve a team comprising multiple different specialists. Commercial games are developed by a team of developers hired by a single company. These companies can specialize in games for mobile devices, PC, or video game consoles. Naturally, these types of game development differ due to the peculiarities of the platforms. However, the key elements of the development process are very much alike.
To obtain a game developer profession, first of all, you need to learn at least one programming language. Where should you start? We advise you to choose the first language to learn based on the platform for which you would like to develop games for:
If you want to try developing your first game, you can use one of the most popular engines:
Each game development language has its benefits and purposes. You should not think that some of them are better than others because they are used for the solution of different tasks. Many video game developers program the major part of the project using one language but the heavy or difficult part demands more flexibility, in another one.
If you want to start with something easier, you should consider becoming a mobile game developer. You can download a popular engine and launch a new app in just a few weeks. Engines are the software that offers ready-made solutions for the work with graphics and physics. And the developer only has to add sprites or character designs and then code several scripts using one of the programming languages. You can even download all of the resources or buy them on the Internet without developing anything new. Your task is just to compile them together and create an interesting script.
For any game developer, it is quite beneficial to be able to work with cross-platform applications and engines. Besides, a specialist should clearly understand the stages of game development:
In a team, a specialist will have to tightly work with a screenplay writer, animation artist, game and sound designer, tester, and programmer.
To summarize, the main skills you need to become a game developer are:
If you want to become an indie game developer, i.e., work for independent projects not financed by the big companies, you must be able to create animation, visual effects, game concepts, and design, and know the basics of modelling. In such projects, the teams are quite small, and a single specialist should undertake several roles.
You can become a game developer without a special degree. What’s more important for your future employer is your portfolio and skills. However, it would be beneficial to get at least a bachelor’s degree in, for example, computer games development, programming, computer science, games technology, mathematics, software engineering, and so on. Besides, you can complete courses on various educational online platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, or others. You can also get certifications from these platforms, but although some of the courses can be completed for free, you will have to pay for the exams. If you already have a degree in a close field, you can also complete courses to broaden your knowledge and increase your chances of employment. You can consider such subjects as animation, interactive media, games design and art or graphic design, and so on.
The average annual salary of a specialist in this field in the USA is around $65,000. An entry-level specialist can count on $57,000 a year. A specialist with more than one year of experience but less than 5 years is usually paid around $65,500 a year. A specialist working in the industry for 5+ years earns around $74,000 annually.
In Canada, the average salary is C$58,500 a year which makes around $45,500. If it is the first year of working in the industry, the annual salary is around C$46,000 or $36,000. For specialists working more than one year but less than five years, the usual pay is C$56,000 or $44,000. A specialist with 5+ years of experience, on average, earns around C$73,000 or $57,000.
In India, the average salary for the position is around ₹479,000 or $6,400. A young specialist can earn around ₹330,000 or $4,400 a year. A game developer with 1-4 years of experience can expect a pay of ₹494,000 or $6,600 a year. And a specialist working in the industry for 5+ years is paid, on average, ₹860,000 or $11,500 a year.
The major IT giants offer game developers the following salaries:
As for the salaries offered by these companies in India, they are, naturally, much lower than those for US employees, but usually, they are slightly higher than the national average for the same jobs.