How to Get a Job in Computer Game Development

How to Get a Job in Computer Game Development

A lot of us love playing computer games and there’s certainly no shortage of them these days. Whether that’s the latest 3D blockbuster featuring stunning graphics and innovative gameplay or casual mobile games you just can’t stop playing, computer games bring entertainment (as well as frustration) to all. 

Though do you often play a game and think you could do better? Or would like to learn about the process that goes behind the development of a computer game? Well, many ambitious gamers are now going down that route with many enrolling into universities across the UK to learn the skills required to kick start their careers in computer game design.

The UK games industry is the third largest in the world in terms of success and sales of hardware and software. Some of the most successful game franchises have come out of the UK including Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider, Fable, Total War and Wipeout. The profits made often exceed the film industry with action adventure (and record breaking) computer game, Grand Theft Auto V becoming the fastest-selling video game of all time making over £500 million. The studio behind the record breaking Grand Theft Auto series is based in Edinburgh, Scotland and is just one of the large game studios that are based in the UK. Other studios include Microsoft Studios, SCE Worldwide Studios,

Computer game development teams offer a wide range of opportunities from programming to UX design. With games getting bigger, better and more expansive so comes the need for larger teams.

Types of Skills and Job Roles

  • Programmer (Java, C++, C#, Assembly)
  • 3D Artist/Animator
  • 2D/3D Environment/Level Design
  • 2D Artist/Illustrator
  • Game Designer/Creative Director
  • UX/UI Designer
  • Audio Engineer
  • Sound/Music Editor
  • QA Tester
  • Project Manager/Producer

Even if the skill or job role isn’t directly related to the production of the game there are still several other IT roles within the gaming industry including digital marketing, data analysts and IT support which is more common in larger computer game companies like EA, Activision and Ubisoft.

Common Computer Game Related Degrees

Many skills and roles within the game industry have their own dedicated university courses so if you were interested in a particular part of computer game development you’re likely to find a university of your choice that specialises in that subject. Here are some example university courses available in the UK:

  • Computer Game Design
  • Computer Games Development
  • Computer Game Technology
  • 3D Modelling & Animation
  • Computer Games Programming
  • Illustration and Design
  • Computer Science (Games)
  • Visual Effects and Game Art

Many of the courses incorporate several elements of computer game production so you’re likely to learn how to do basic programming in 3D modelling for computer games and possibly vice versa. It all depends on the course so the best thing to do is check UCAS’s website for more information.

Gaining Experience and Skills

If university isn’t an option for you then there’s nothing stopping you from attempting your own computer game. It’s never been easier to create your own by teaching yourself via online tutorials and reading books on the subject. There are many game engines out to get you started from Unreal Engine to Unity which both offer free versions so getting into game development doesn’t have to be a financial burden straight away. You can learn how to program smaller games and increase your knowledge and skills over time but you can’t do this without dedication, perseverance and time. Both engines have plenty of tutorials, templates and great support from other game developers.

If you’re more interested in learning the graphical side of game development there are several tools at your disposal. Tools like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are often the industry standard for 2D concept art and graphics. For 3D modelling and creation you can look into programs like Maya and 3DS Max which again are industry standard and the best tools to get started in 3D animation and design.

The same advice can be applied to mobile game development too with tools like Unity being able to export to Android and iOS. With iOS you will need XCode which is Apple’s toolkit for creating apps for iPhone, iPad and Mac OS X. Using Apple’s Swift programming language you can teach yourself to create simple but additive games using helpful online guides and tutorials. Hopefully with practice and experience you could soon be creating more complex computer games with immersive 3D worlds and intuitive gameplay.

If you feel you’ve got the experience and skills to partake in game development you can always search online for independent teams looking team members to help complete games. Although there are some that like to go it alone, you’re more likely to get your name on a finished product if you get involved in computer game project. The best way to find work experience is through websites like indieDB, global game jams and networking events. Plus, thanks to crowd funding websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo it’s never been easier for groups to get together to fund their own independent computer game which means more groups are turning to computer game development which increases the opportunities to join exciting game projects and build your portfolio.

Know the Market and Latest Developments

The industry is ever changing as gameplay, graphics and hardware evolves each year. It’s important that you keep up to date with the latest happenings and news in technical innovation. The Playstation 4, Xbox One and Wii U are part of the current generation of game consoles which usually changes every six years. The latest advancements and innovations in gaming have been motion sensing, virtual reality headsets e.g Oculus Rift and voice/facial recognition so things have really come along way. Cloud based gaming or games on demand is gaining popularity with services like Playstation Now allowing you to stream games instantly

Another way of knowing the market is to simply play the games for yourself and check out every genre of games too. Like films, games have genres that range from FPS (First Person Shooter e.g Call of Duty, Doom), RPG (Final Fantasy, Quest for Infamy) to casual games (Angry Birds, Farmville) so having knowledge of all types of computer games and formats will work to your advantage when looking for graduate jobs.