What makes something a game

What does a game developer / game developer actually do?

What are the tasks of the game developer and how do you start your career?

Few people can escape the fascination of computer games. On the PC, smartphone or tablet - paddling takes place on all devices. Many new games come onto the market every year. Creating your own games is a lot of fun and a great challenge for many programmers. You don't even have to have studied computer science to turn your hobby into your dream job.

Duties of a game developer

The profession of game designer (English. Game Designer) offers very diverse areas of responsibility. In addition to game design, the focus is on programming sound and graphics and testing the games. Many game developers also work as project managers and accompany a game from the idea to marketing. In most cases, game developers work in a team, with individual members often responsible for certain areas such as animation or sound. First, the game designers deal with the basics of a game. You think about the rules and the different levels and the actual goal of the game - this design of game worlds is a challenge in itself, as even the smallest changes to the game design can have fundamental consequences for the course of the game and / or the level of difficulty. After this stage, graphic designers provide the first drafts that determine the basic appearance of a game. In 3D games, so-called modellers then take over the graphic design of the three-dimensional worlds. The task of the programmer is to create a virtual world based on the specifications and drafts.
The variety of tasks means that game developers have specialized in certain areas of game development such as browser games, social media or casual games or level designers or tests of games and game worlds in the course of their professional life. Authors and producers who take care of the background story and character portrayal or organizational and financial issues are also gaining in importance.

What skills does a game developer need?

In addition to complex and expensive computer games, it is above all free mini-games and casual games that dominate the game market today. These so-called "free to play" games do not pay off through a sales price, but through advertisements or paid add-ons that, for example, simplify the success of the game. With these games, the balance of the events, the level of difficulty and the need to buy add-ons is particularly important, otherwise the gaming experience can suffer significantly.
So-called "mobile games" have also played an important role. Smartphone users use waiting times or breaks to play their favorite games. Through the game apps, gamers are networked with one another online. This places high demands on developers, but makes starting a career very interesting and varied. A good knowledge of the programming languages ​​C ++ and Java or Swift as well as the use of graphics tools and modeling tools are a great advantage for starting a career as a game developer. Since many software companies work with project development techniques such as SCRUM, basic knowledge of software development methods in a team is a great advantage. Ideally, a game developer is familiar with the areas of graphic user interface (GUI), operating systems and app development. High-performance programming, taking into account limited resources, is particularly important for the latter! Good written and spoken German and English skills are essential. Fantasy and creativity, enthusiasm for games, technical understanding as well as communication and organizational skills and the ability to work in a team are also in demand.

How do you become a game developer (apprenticeship / studies)?

As in many IT areas, there were hardly any training opportunities in game design until recently. Only in the last few years have courses in game designer and game development been established at some universities. Some universities of applied sciences also offer courses such as game engineering or game design. Some distance learning institutes also offer the "Certified 3D game developer" course. The students receive the course material by post and can use various software packages (e.g. the Unity engine or comparable engines) to independently plan, develop and, if necessary, market computer games in 3D.
In many cases, the game developers have acquired the skills themselves and enter this profession as lateral entrants. For many companies, enthusiasm, creativity and system and programming knowledge are more important than a training degree. Knowledge of graphic design, product design and marketing can also be an advantage.
Basically, the game developer is a popular profession, there are usually many applicants for a few positions. A big plus point for you can therefore be experience in developing games. You don't necessarily have to have gained this experience in a company. How about the private development of a browser game or a mobile game as a hobby? ;)

Where can I work as a game developer? What salary can I expect?

The computer games industry has been growing for years and the need for skilled workers is still increasing. Game developers find work at various development studios such as Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft, which usually only develop games for certain devices or consoles. Game developers can also find good employment opportunities at large studios such as Rockstar, Electronic Arts or 2K Games - but not only that. In addition, there are less significant indie game development studios that develop mainly smaller games independently of the large corporations, but often stand out for their unconventional and creative work. 3D modelers are also finding increasing employment opportunities in the medical and media sectors. Overall, the prospects for a lucrative job in the games industry are relatively good.
As in many industries, the salary in game development depends on professional qualifications, the size of the company and the location. Compared to the international developers, the salary in Germany still lags behind. The game programmers, who can count on an average annual salary of around 47,000 euros, earn the best. A lead programmer brings it to around 60,000 euros, a technical director goes home with around 70,000 euros.
Although no less important, experienced artists and animators earn around 40,000 euros, the starting salary is around 35,000 euros per year. An art director can hope for 50,000 euros.
Overall, however, management positions in this area are rather few and far between.
Experienced game designers receive an annual salary of approx. 39,000 euros, the salary of an art director or lead director is approx. 45,000 euros. For producers, the average annual salary is around 55,000 euros. Indie studios usually pay much less and often only offer temporary or freelance positions - personal motivation is often the top priority here.