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How to Become a Video Game Programmer

Have you ever played a video game and wished that you could be a one of the key members who developed the game and made the magic happen? Do you excel at problem solving and thinking outside of the box? If so, you might just be a great candidate to end up with an amazing career creating the code for games. Let's look at how to become a video game programmer.


What qualities do I need for video game programming?

There are some good traits to have for those entering into video game programming and programming in general. Of course, some of these traits can be worked on and refined, but it's probably best if some of them come naturally for you.

programming video gamesGood problem solving skills and logic

Much of a video game programmers work involves figuring out the best and most efficient way to get things done while programming. This involves someone who is a good problem solver who can look at things from many different perspectives and figure out the best way to tackle the programming challenge. Having a good solid logical mind will go far for coding various aspects of a video game.

Good with numbers and math

Like it or not, you are going to have to face some math in programming a video game. ;) Linear algebra is something that you should become comfortable with as it is an essential part of the whole process. Linear algebra in relationship to a video game deals with vectors which are used to calculate camera angles, object positions, velocity and more. It's not that hard to work with linear algebra, but being familiar with it will be important.

Good organization and focus

With code needing to be as bug free and efficient as possible, having strong organizational skills is a great asset. You will need to keep track of a truckload of variables and details, so staying on top of them in a structured way will go a long way. Having a good focus will bring this all together. Also keep in mind that there is pressure to get games out in a timely manner. You will have to put in some serious time to meet those demanding deadlines.


What is the outlook for the video game programmer in 2018?

With the release of the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U along side mobile devices, PCs and more there is a huge demand for programmers entering the video game / entertainment space. There maybe has never been a better time to enter in as video games are being played extensively both on mobile platforms and home platforms. Whether people are playing Angry Birds at a bus station on their smartphone or the next GTA on the PlayStation 4 at home, there will be a big demand for video games for the foreseeable future.

coding video gamesOn one end of the spectrum, Indie developers have a chance to make it big without being a part of a huge team. There are many examples of Indie developers and programmers who have had tremendous success with the flexibility of a smaller team, and have sold millions of units of their game.

On the other end of the spectrum are bigger studios putting out jaw dropping cinematic game experiences on home consoles and PCs. These developers often have a whole team of programmers who each specialize on a more specific task exclusively. While a small Indie programmer might program most of the game, someone working with say Bungie or Naughty Dog might just focus on physics or networking code.

With bigger studios though, comes greater pressure for the video game to succeed and sell a lot of units. Not doing so has caused some studio closures. That said, there are still a lot of jobs out there for programmers. Just don't count on 100% to stay at one studio for your whole career. This is nothing to worry about, but being flexible for where you work is probably a good idea.

Regardless of where you end up, there will be ample opportunities in the video game space for programmers to find employment.

Get some training

With the amount of expertise needed to understand the various aspects of programming a video game, a degree focused on programming in a video game development environment will be important. There are plenty of more general programming programs that will give you a good foundation as well, but you will miss learning about the process of working with other members in a video game studio, as well as missing out on the various connections a good school will have to the video game industry.

Full SailGetting informed about what degrees and programs are out there is an important step in figuring out what can get you closer to become a video game programmer. Even if you aren't ready to commit to a school or program, learning what's out there gives you a clearer picture of what may be the best option for you moving forward. Keep in mind there is no obligation to these schools when you request free information, so you can view it more as an information session to better prepare you.

Full Sail University offers a great Game Development Bachelor of Science degree at their campus location that you really should check out to see what a good program should offer. Another good option is The Art Institutes that offer a few video game program degrees that you'll want to take a look at. Get some info from these schools, look at what they offer, and start to figure out where you can go from there.

In Summary

With the video game industry booming from Indies to big studios, there is a high demand for video game programmers. There are certain traits that will help you land that job, but you will need some sort of programming degree, and one focused on working in the video game industry will be a plus. So have you decided yet if you want to become a video game programmer? It might be that dream career you always wanted.

Make sure to also check out:

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