How to Become a Video Game Developer

How to Become a Video Game Developer: Career Path Guide

If you want to become a video game developer, you first need to determine if this career path is well suited to your skills and interests. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a video game developer:


• You are passionate about video games

• You understand the differences between good video games and bad ones

• You have a solid working knowledge of various scripting languages

• You enjoy working in a fast-paced environment

• You have a high degree of focus when working

• You have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field

• You posses strong knowledge of programming data structures, logic, and algorithms


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a video game developer. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Video Game Developer

Many employers prefer to hire candidates for Video Game Developer jobs that have a bachelor’s degree in a field such as computer science, software engineering, or a specialized field such as video game development.


Some universities, such as Carleton, Lakehead, Brock, Algoma and the University of Ontario, offer bachelor degree programs in science or computer science with game development specialty streams.


Some employers may also accept development and design diplomas and certificates obtained from a community college. 




What is a Video Game Developer?

Video game developers help make the imaginary seem real. They turn the vision of the game artists and designers into reality by utilizing programming and coding languages.


Video game developers work among a team of professionals, whose collective efforts are responsible for the development of video games on various platforms, such as game consoles, computers, mobile phones and the Internet.



Video Game Developer Job Description

The job description of video game developers can vary, depending on the size of their employer, what kind of games their employer produces, and many other factors.


Some video game developers, such as those that work for companies that produce relatively simple games, may be responsible for a wide variety of tasks in the development of a video game, ranging from the development of the concept for a video game, to the design and programming of that game.


Other video game developers, such as those that work for companies that produce complex games, may be responsible for focusing on one highly complex and specialized area, such as developing the core engine that drives the whole game; the 3D graphics component; music and digital sounds; or network programming, used to connect players online. 



Video Game Developer Job Duties

• Develop the initial concept of a video game

• May create the initial designs and visual concepts for a video game

• Generate game scripts and storyboards

• May use 2D and 3D modeling and animation software during the production stage

• May use programing languages to program the actions and other elements of the game

• Liaise with programmers, game designers, game testers and other professionals during the development phase

• Solve technical problems that are identified during the testing phase

• Liaise with sales and marketing staff during the entire production process



Who Creates Jobs for Video Game Developers?

Game developers are hired on a part-time, full-time or contractual basis by video gaming companies, of which there are currently over 300 in Canada alone. Video game developers may also become self-employed as an independent developers or freelancers.




Career Advancement for Video Game Developers

With sufficient industry experience and competence, video game developers can move into a variety of positions with greater levels of pay and responsibility. Within a large company, they may move into supervisory and management positions such as Lead Developer, Technical Director or Director of Operations. They may also choose to start their own gaming company or become freelancers. 



Skills and Traits Needed to Become a Video Game Developer

In order to become effective in a career as a video game developer, you need to posses a certain set of skills and personality traits. These skills and traits will help you make the most of your career as a video game developer by allowing you to perform your job duties with competence, and by helping you to maintain a positive attitude towards your work.


Many of these skills and traits are also in high demand with companies that hire video game developers; you will see many of these skills and traits, or variations of them, listed on video game developer job postings.


Personal Traits

• A passion for video games

• A deep understanding of what makes certain video games good, and others bad

• Enjoy using math and physics to solve problems


Soft Skills

• Able to translate the gameplay’s vision into programming

• Find it easy to visualize code as real game elements

• Have high attention to detail for catching glitches and bugs

• Able to stay focused on challenges and fixing problems until the cast is complete

• Be able to work efficiently and under pressure

• Thrive in a fast-paced environment


Hard Skills

• Solid working knowledge of a variety of scripting languages

• Solid working knowledge of object oriented programming languages

• Posses strong knowledge of programming data structures, logic, and algorithms


Get Your Degree!

Find schools and get information on the program that’s right for you.

Powered by Campus Explorer

Video Game Developer Salary

The annual earnings of video game developers can vary, depending on their personal qualifications, the size of their employer, the specific responsibilities of their job, and many other factors.


Video Game Developer Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertan workers in the Computer Programmers and Interactive Media Developers occupational group earn an average of between $27.52 and $45.98 per hour.


Video Game Developer Salary Canada: According to Statistics Canada, the average salary level of Canadian workers in the Computer Programmers and Interactive Media Developers occupational group is $53,589 per year.


Video Game Developer Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, American workers in the Software Developers, Applications occupational group earn a mean salary of $93,280 per year.



Careers Similar to Video Game Developer

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Video Game Developer, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities:


Computer Programmer

Java Developer

Multimedia Programmer

Video Game Audio Programmer

Web Designer



References: How to Become a Video Game Developer

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a video game developer.



Wages & Salaries in Alberta:Interactive Media Programmer.” (March 31, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 15, 2020.

Occupational Employment and Wages:Software Developers, Applications.” (March 29, 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics - United States Government website. Retrieved January 15, 2020.

Career Profiles:Career Mash.” (n.d.). Career Mash website. Retrieved January 15, 2020.

Careers:Video Game Programmer and Developer.” (n.d.) CompuCert website. Retrieved January 15, 2020.

Jobs Database:Game Developer.” (n.d.). Careers New Zealand website. Retrieved January 15, 2020.



Scholarships for Becoming a Video Game Developer

Scholarships in Canada and the United States listed for majors that apply to becoming a Video Game Developer can be found on the following pages:


Computer Science Scholarships

Graphic Design Scholarships

Software Engineering Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Video Game Developer: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a video game developer. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


Top Banner Image: