What Is Gaming Programming?

As a gaming programmer, you can use your knowledge of writing code to create flexible, fast software that entices gamers. If you've ever dreamed of writing computer code and working in the video game industry, gaming programming could be the profession for you. Schools offering Game Production degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Gaming Programming Defined

Gaming programmers use programming languages, such as Adobe ActionScript, C++ and Java, to create graphics, sound, artificial intelligence and tools in video games. To create artificial intelligence, you could write code to make computer-controlled characters more realistic in terms of expression, reaction and communication. If you'd rather work in graphics or sound programming, you could work to perfect the playback of music, audio effects or animation.

As a tool programmer, you'd create a set of digital directives within the gaming software that allows designers to add their art, music, sound effects and game play information directly into the game. Depending on your job and the game you're creating, you could be responsible for programming one aspect of a game or the whole game.

The work of programming and coding involves abstract concepts and mathematical formulas. Each piece of code must be written to exact specifications. This means as a programmer, you must pay attention to detail and be patient enough to work through each line of often repetitious code. Additionally, you must be able to think analytically to solve problems with graphics, game play or integration.

Important Facts About Video Game Designers & Computer Programmers

Video Game DesignersComputer Programmers
Entry-level Education Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Key Skills Programming, communication, listening, originality, idea fluency, and reasoning skills Programming, communication, listening, reasoning, and information ordering skills
Work Environment Work in business or home offices with specialized gaming technologyWork in business or home offices for computer systems design or other service industries
Similar Occupations Computer programmers, web developers, art directors Information research scientists, computer hardware engineers, software developers
Median Salary (2014) $83,410 $77,550

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

A career in programming typically requires you to complete formal education in the field. Several schools offer 2-year associate's degree and 4-year bachelor's degree programs in game design, production or programming that can assist in preparing you for gaming industry jobs. You may enroll in a certificate program, which may help you obtain an entry-level internship or programming job; however, companies typically hire individuals with at least a bachelor's degree.

Game programming programs combine foundational courses in computer science with game programming, game design, programming languages and mathematics. You could also gain the communication skills and principles to work within an innovative team environment.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), careers for computer programmers were expected to increase by 8% between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). This is due to companies starting to pull programming jobs back into the country and a growing demand for new software. The BLS reported that the average annual wage of computer programmers working for software publishers was $101,640 as of May 2014.

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