SXSW 2009: So, you want to be a Game Developer?

Saturday, March 14th, 2009 2:00 PM
Snider, Game Developer
Ted Langdell, Edge Games
Scott Jenning, Game Developer
King Shin, Arkane Studios
Michael Baird

Game Developers are not Game Designers. Artifical Inteligence takes up a lot of development time, and is crutial for game play. Scripting and Physics is also another big category of game development. “Every game developer has three ideas in their pocket for games.” If a Game Developer wants to become a Game Designer too, then it is possible. In order to fully create a game you’ll need to be both a Game Developer and a Game Designer.

Jennings believes that knowing the coding side of game design greatly helps them understand what he can or cannot do. Shin says you typically end up developing to the design.

Why is it easier to get a job as a developer for a Health Care company than it is for a Game Development company?

  • There are very few people who know what makes a great game. And although you can do great code, you cannot make great games.
  • Game Development companies do not want to teach you how to work on games, so you basically need to know everything before getting into the entry-level game programer field. The reason for this is there are just so many other Game Developers who would over qualify you.
  • Knowledge of SQL will make you stand out in an interview, because not a lot of game developers know much about it.
  • Flash runtime is also being started to be used a lot in game development. Very few people know flash’s action script and thus flash programers could easily get a Game Development job.

To be a Game Developer what do i need to learn above and beyond my Computer Science degree?

  • Look at the job requirements for applying online. Take this tasks into hand to learn.
  • Educational classes typically look down upon teaching classes in game development.
  • In school, teaching AI is totally different than the skill set required in game development AI.
  • Have a good demo of something you’ve created. This is absolutly necessary and will put you far ahead of the other people.
  • In an interview they’ll ask what games you play because they want you to play games, and understand how they work. Believe it or not but there are game developers who do not play games.
  • People skills are very important in game development. Games are a Team effort to develop.
  • You’ll need to know C++ unless you’re doing Flash.

When making a demo, what do you exactly do to show you can program a game?

  • You can always mimic a game you like. Like Tetris.
  • Make sure your demo works and does not crash. Make sure you’ve heavily tested it across computer platforms.
  • Since companies wont always want to run your demo on their internal computers for security reasons, you may want to give them a website with screen shots and details about it.
  • Be very clear about what you did in the game. If you didn’t do the graphics, or didn’t program all of it, tell them.

Do not use a recruiter if you want to be a Game Developer. With a recruiter it will cost them more to hire you than if you didn’t have one. Attending a Game Developer conference to network with companies that may be interested in hireing you. Game companies will talk among each other and may be talking about you; so don’t do something stupid.


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