Salary: 18,000 – 70,000
If you love computer games and enjoy using your imagination, this could be ideal for you. Computer games developers produce games for PCs, games consoles, the internet and mobile phones. The work could involve developing new games or updating existing titles. A game can take several months or even years to produce. There are many stages before a game is released, from creating ideas and characters to programming and testing. There are various tasks involved at each stage, so your role could be, for example:
- designer – deciding what a game looks like and how it plays. You would either come up with your own original ideas or work from an existing concept (idea)
- artist – creating the game’s visual characters, objects and scenery, and producing concept art and drawings (storyboards) at the planning stage
- animator – bringing the characters, objects and scenery to life with computer modelling and animation software during the production stage
- programmer – creating the code to make the game work. You could specialise in developing graphics, artificial intelligence (AI), or gameplay software.
In all of these roles you would report to a producer or project manager, who oversees the whole process and makes sure that the finished game is completed on time.
Career Entry Requirements
This field is highly competitive and as such it is recommended that students study a Computer Science related degree from a good university (see the software engineering job specification for these). You will generally need to gain a 2.1 or 1st degree classification and then go on to specialise with a Masters degree course.
In addition to this you will also ideally have the following experiences:
- 12 month industrial placement in computer games industry
- Portfolio of 3-4 games
- Evidence of working on a game in a team of developers
- Experience of a game engine such as Half-life 2 or Unity
- Experience of 3D scene-layout packages e.g. Maya, Unreal
- Experience with procedural-based scripting languages e.g Lua or C#
- A-levels ABB in Physics, Mathematics, Computing and Art
If you feel that you wish to get into computer games but do not have the academic profile to apply for a top university you can consider applying for a specialized undergraduate course that has been accredited by ‘Creative Skillset‘. It must be stressed that this is a very competitive field to enter and you need to examine the statistics on the number of people who progress from university to actually work in the games industry. UniStats is a good site to gain this information. The courses below are all accredited by Creative Skillset and have reasonable employment rates:
- University of Bournemouth – Games Programming (AAB with either Mathematics, Physics or Computing)
- Teesside University – Computer Games Art (BBC must study Art or Design or CDD for foundation)
- Sheffield Hallam – Games Software Development (BBC)
- University of Abertay – Computer Arts (BCC must study Art, Design or Computing)
- University of Hertfordshire – 3D Digital Animation (CCC with a creative subject)
- Southampton Solent – Indy Computer Games (DDC at least a D in a relevant subject or E for foundation year)