Video Game Developer: Career and Salary Facts
Explore the career requirements for video game developers. Get the facts about about career options along with degree requirements, responsibilities, and career growth to determine if this is the right career for you.
What Does a Video Game Developer Do?
As a video game developer, you'll combine your interests of software engineering, programming and designing. These professionals are responsible for using software and codes to create the visual effects and animations for video games. They may begin their projects by researching the topic of the game, developing storyboards and meeting with clients or other people involved on the project. Video game developers may then work as a team or individually to complete various parts of the project. They edit animations based on suggestions from clients or directors, and work closely with other animators or programmers. Learn about the possible career paths of a video game developer, along with training requirements and salary expectations in the chart below.
|Degree Required||Bachelor's degree|
|Education Field of Study||Computer science, computer programming, computer graphics, art, game development and design|
|Key Responsibilities||Design and develop video games, test software, create storyboards and characters|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||4%* (for multimedia artists and animators); 21%* (for software developers)|
|Median Salary||$72,520 (for multimedia artists and animators, 2018)*; $70,743 (for software developers, 2019)**|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Payscale.com
What is a Video Game Developer?
Video game developer is a broad term that can refer to any individual who creates video games for a living. If you are interested in gaining such a position, your job will most likely be to design, develop and test the software used in video games. However, you will probably work with a team of video game programmers and designers who are each trained to develop a certain aspect of a game. It is up to you to determine your specific role within such a team.
For example, you might choose to become an audio system developer, a coding programmer, a visual artist, a game producer or a game designer. Each of these different positions can be correctly labeled as a video game developer, although each has different specific job duties. You should determine where your skills and interests lie before you choose a specific role within the video game development field.
Can I Specialize in the Field?
If you work as a video game developer, you might choose to focus on developing software for a particular type of game console, such as Nintendo or a PlayStation. You might decide to focus on developing video games for personal computers. You can also specialize in a particular niche in the field, such as role playing games (RPGs), multi-player games, porting games or Internet community games. You can also choose to specialize in a specific area of game development including storyboarding, software design and engineering or creating the artwork.
What Educational Programs Are Available?
Several educational programs might prepare you for a position as a video game developer. Some of these might include degree programs in computer programming, software development and game programming. However, a Bachelor of Science in Game Development and Design can combine all of these fields and can prepare you for multiple possible positions within the video game development industry.
A bachelor's degree program in game development and design should provide you with a basic understanding of computer operating systems and computer programming languages. It should also teach you how to develop graphics and use advanced mathematics to develop the physics of a particular game. You are expected to gain the technical and artistic skills necessary to program and design video games while also fulfilling general education requirements.
What Salary Can I Expect to Earn?
In November 2019, PayScale.com listed the salaries earned by the middle percentage of video game developers with several different job titles. It reported that video game designers earned a median salary of $63,781, while software developers earned a median salary of $70,743.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
A few related jobs include art directors, computer programmers and graphic designers. All three of these positions require at least a bachelor's degree. Art directors create, develop and maintain the visual style of the projects they work on, including movies, magazines, newspapers and more. Computer programmers create the codes to make software and other programs work. They work closely with engineers and software developers. Graphic designers are responsible for creating the visual concepts and images for things like advertisements and magazines.