December 19th, 2007 by Rachel
From the staff of GameCareerGuide.com
Parents’ Frequently Asked Questions About Game Development
Q: What does “game developer” mean?
A: People who make video games or computer games are called game developers. You can think of them like software developers, as video games are essentially just a specific type of software.
Within the term “game developer,” there are a host of other job titles, which we generally break down by discipline or field of study: art, programming, design and writing, production (producers), audio, quality assurance (game testers), and business. The most well known of these are artist or animator, programmer or engineer (sometimes also called coder), and game designer.
Game developers are usually employed by a game development studio, which some people use interchangeably with the term “developer.” On this web site, we try to differentiate between “studios” or “houses,” which are the companies, and “developers,” or the people.
Q: My child wants to make video games for a living. Is this something s/he can actually do?
Video and computer games currently make up one of the largest segments of the entertainment industry. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that’s thriving widely across the world. The biggest and strongest companies in the market hire throughout the year, with no shortage of applicants.
You have probably heard or assumed that getting a job in the video game development industry is competitive. This is absolutely true, and something that parents should be very clear on.
There are an estimated 47,000 game developers in North America alone, with more and more jobs becoming available each year. The number of jobs is increasing because many mass-market video games are on the cutting edge of technology, so as the technology evolves, it takes more and more people to keep up with it.
Ten years ago, development teams of big-name games might have comprised 20 to 40 people, whereas now they are more likely to be 80 or 100 people strong. However, video game development has become better recognized as a respectable and promising career during that same time frame; so while there are more jobs, there are also more applicants.
In general, the job market for college graduates in all fields is more competitive now than it was 15 or 20 years ago — so what makes a job in game development any more competitive than a job in any other field? For one, working with video games is considered a “sexy” job, so it can attract a huge pool of applicants for the wrong reasons (it’s actually very hard work and does not pay as well as other programming jobs). Second, game developers must be highly skilled and talented. The video game industry pushes to be on the cutting edge of technology and entertainment, and studios strongly weigh talent and demonstration of applied knowledge when looking at job candidates.