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Computer Game Developer
To be a game developer, you must truly love games. You mustn’t just like playing games, you must also like understanding games. You have to enjoy the concept of dissecting a game, breaking it down into smaller parts, and visualizing how the pieces fit back together.
Game developers take on many jobs, but no job, is as important as the programmer. The programmer is the heart of the game. Without the programmer, there is no game (Gruber).
Another job in developing a game is an artist. Artists are important too. Artists might even play a more critical role than a programmer in some games. However, that depends entirely on the game. Artists design book covers for the game’s manual, the title screen, the introduction, and anything else that needs to be drawn.
A Musician is also needed in developing a game. They make music and sound effects that go along with the game. There are a lot of musicians. There are not a lot of jobs for them. Most musicians are out of a job in the gaming industry.
Producers oversee game development, and they also make sure all of the needed elements are in place. In some cases a programmer or an artist plays the role of a producer and gives orders to people. A producer might provide resources necessary for the game. They might also pass out pay checks. The job of a producer is not as important as the programmer or artist.
There can be confusion on who the designer is. A producer might think he is the designer, when actually the programmer is the designer. The artist should be the designer, being that he has the creative talent, but nobody pays attention to the artist. Successful and good designers are hard to find.
Play testers search games for errors and playability. However, since most games are under-funded and behind schedule, the play tester is generally ignored more than he should be.
The publisher is the boss of game development. He sits around, does nothing, and collects 95% of the money a game makes. Most game developers and designers despise the publisher.
Most people who wish to be game developers make their first game alone. These people are called lone wolves. A lone wolf does all of the jobs listed above on his own. Many people enjoy working alone, and continue to work alone, even after their first game is completed. Being a lone wolf isn’t for everybody. A majority of game developers work for companies (Gruber).
Salaries vary from company to company in the computer game industry. Salaries depend on the size and successfulness of the company. According to a recent issue of Canadian Business magazine, experienced game programmers in the United States have a base salary that averages around $50,000 to $60,000 a year. However, some successful game developers can earn up to $150,000 a year (Baldwin). New game programmers and designers with little experience earn about $30,000 (Encarta). Game developers can also get extra money if a game sells well.
Educational requirements vary greatly with each job and employer. Some employers require a college education in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, computer-aided design, computer graphics, or art (D.O.T.). Most employers ask that their employees demonstrate knowledge of the skills they will use on the job. It is very possible for someone with no college education to get a good job in a computer game development company.
Game developers will need excellent computer programming skills. A proficiency with programming languages like C and C++ is essential (D.O.T.). Algebra and geometry skills are a must for designing. Programmers also need to have a strong background in computers, math, and physics to be successful in programming 3-D design elements that give the game a realistic look (Computer Game Designer). A solid background in English and literature will help with the plot and the story line of the game.
The most successful in the computer game industry have a combination of creativity, vision, technical, and analytical skills. Creative problem solving skills and attention to detail are important as well (Baldwin).
Computer game developing and designing is not for everyone. Many people say designers are born, and they can not be made. A love for games is essential in being a computer game developer. A designer must enjoy his job. He must look forward to going to work everyday. If a computer game maker hates his job, then his games will be hated as well.
Baldwin, Tom. “Designing the Future.” Canadian Business
Sep. 1999: 9-12
Chronicle Guidance Publication. “Video Game Developers and
Designers.” D.O.T. : 03. Brief 678
Computer Game Designer. Available @
“Computer Games.” Encarta. CD-ROM. 1997
Gruber, Diana. Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Game
Developer?. Available @ http://www.makegames.com/chapt1.html
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