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  • A man is sitting at a desk, typing on a computer keyboard.  There are two large monitors on the desk.

    Programming a new game.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, playing a game on a tablet.  There are two large monitors on the desk.

    Computer games programmers develop games for computers, phones, tablets and consoles.

  • Two men are in an office; one is sitting down and the other is standing facing him.  The seated man is holding a smart phone.  They are both smiling.

    Games programmers work closely with designers. Communication and teamwork skills are very important.

  • Three men are sitting at a table in an office; one of the men has a smart phone on the desk in front of him.  They are talking to each other.  There is a large whiteboard planner on the wall behind them.

    In a planning meeting with a designer and the development director. Several games are being developed at the same time, and there are deadlines to meet.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, typing on a computer keyboard.  There are three large monitors on the desk, one of which has a picture of a galaxy on the screen.

    Programmers sort out problems (bugs) in the code while the game is in development.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, playing a game on a smart phone.  There are three large monitors on the desk, one of which has a picture of a galaxy on the screen.

    Checking the way the game plays on a smart phone.

  • Two men are sitting at a table in an office, looking at something on the screen of a smart phone.

    Showing the game to the development director.

  • Computer Games Developer

  • Computer Games Developer

Computer Games Developer

Introduction

As a Computer Games Developer, you will produce games for PCs, games consoles, the internet and mobile phones. Usually you would be working within a team of developers, working on one particular aspect of the game.

Also known as

  • Games Programmer
  • Programmer, Computer Games
  • Developer, Computer Games

Video: - Henrique: Head of Game Development

Video: - Tom: Games Developer

Work Activities

As a Computer Games Developer, you will program games for PCs, games consoles, the internet and mobile phones.

You'll most likely be working as a member of a team, which is normally made up of:

  • Designers
  • Testers
  • Graphic Artists
  • Programmers

Your team will be led by a Product Manager.

You will provide the programming expertise to turn the storyboards and ideas of the Designers, Writers and other production team members, into the finished game.

You will probably be responsible for programming just one aspect of the game - maybe a particular movement, or character. You will combine your work with that of other Developers, to create the finished game.

Once the coding is complete, you might have to test the application to make sure that it works correctly and there are no faults. This can prove a time-consuming process, though most programming applications include special software tools to help in the process.

In larger companies, the testing will often be done by specialist testers.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Computer Games Developer, you'll need:

  • a good knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, computer games
  • advanced programming skills, preferably in C++, C#, Java and ActionScript
  • mathematical ability in order to program the movement of three-dimensional objects
  • a logical, methodical approach to your work
  • good problem solving skills

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £29,000 - £35,500
  • With experience: £37,500 - £44,500
  • Senior positions: £49,000 - £55,000

Your salary might include performance-related pay, profit share or company bonuses.

Hours of work

You would usually usually work 35-37 hours, Monday to Friday. However, late finishes and some weekend work are often required, especially as deadlines approach.

Where could I work?

Lots of computer games companies are based in London. However, significant computer games industry 'hubs' are growing in the following places:

  • Brighton
  • Cambridge
  • Cardiff
  • Dundee
  • Edinburgh
  • Guildford
  • Aldershot
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Oxford
  • Sheffield and Rotherham
  • Warwick
  • Stratford-upon-Avon

Take a look at this map to see where computer games companies are operating across the world

devmap.gamesmith.com/

This career could include working for an agency.

Self-employment

Opportunities occur for experienced Computer Games Developers to become self-employed.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in specialist magazines/websites such as Edge and Develop, on IT job boards and employers' websites, in national newspapers, on Find a Job and at Jobcentre Plus.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

A degree isn't essential for this job. However, degrees in relevant subjects are available at many universities. In order to get onto a degree course you will usually need at least two A levels.

An A level in an IT based subject would be a great help.

So now is a great time to start planning your route through to university. IT based subjects at GCSE and A level would help you to stand out from the crowd.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

Training

If you would like some training, Access Creative College offer courses that could help you enter this career. Course titles include:

  • games development (level 2)
  • games art (level 3)
  • games technology (level 3)

Check the website for dates and availability.

Other courses could be available in your area.

Work Experience

If you really want to become a Computer Games Developer, then you should think about getting relevant development experience in another industry first. This will give you a great advantage, when gaming opportunities do appear. And don't forget to play games! Become an expert in the latest developments within the gaming world.

Progression

Experienced Computer Games Developers could become Team Leaders and then Programming or Project Managers.

Qualifications

For entry to a degree course in a relevant subject, the usual requirement is:

  • 2/3 A levels
  • GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in 2/3 other subjects
  • English and maths at GCSE

You might need maths and/or another numerate science subject (for example, physics) at A level for some courses.

Alternatives to A levels include City & Guilds or BTEC level 3 qualifications and the International Baccalaureate Diploma.

There are various relevant vocational qualifications which you could consider, including:

  • BTEC level 3 - computer games development
  • BTEC level 3 - profesional competence for IT and telecoms professionals
  • City & Guilds level 2 & 3 - ICT professional competence
  • City & Guilds level 2 - software development
  • City & Guilds level 2 - technical certificate in digital technology (software & applications)
  • City & Guilds level 3 - advanced technical diploma in digital technologies (application development)

However, course requirements vary so check college/university websites carefully.

It might also be possible to enter this work without formal qualifications, if you have relevant programming skills.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Courses

If you are a graduate with a non-relevant degree, taking a one-year IT postgraduate conversion course will improve your chances.

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course, for example, Access to IT/Computing, could be the way in. These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.

Another option would be an HNC in computing on a part-time basis, either evening and/or daytime.

Alternatively, taking short intensive courses in specific computing languages with private accredited IT training providers can help you to develop the portfolio of technical skills needed by employers. Such courses can be taken on a flexible, evening, weekend or day part-time basis.

Distance learning

Distance learning opportunities include the Open University, which offers a number of degrees and diplomas in computing, including the degree in Computing and IT. Many educational institutions offer specific qualifications on a distance/online learning basis.

Further Information

Queen's University Belfast

Irish enquiries

Website: www.qub.ac.uk

ScreenSkills

Skills for the creative industries

Email: info@creativeskillset.org

Website: www.creativeskillset.org

Creative Choices

Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills

Email: info@creative-choices.co.uk

Website: www.creative-choices.co.uk

The Tech Partnership

Skills for business and information technology

Address: 1 Castle Lane, London SW1E 6DR

Tel: 020 7963 8920

Email: info@e-skills.com

Website: www.e-skills.com

Open University (OU)

Tel: 0845 3006090

Website: www.open.ac.uk

Inside Careers

Specialists in graduate careers

Address: Unit 6, The Quad, 49 Atalanta Street, Fulham, London SW6 6TU

Tel: 020 7565 7900

Website: www.insidecareers.co.uk

BCS: The Chartered Institute for IT

Address: First Floor, Block D, North Star House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FA

Tel: 0845 3004417

Email: custsupport@bcs.uk

Website: www.bcs.org

Capita Learning and Development

Tel: 0800 0223410

Email: hello@capitalearning.co.uk

Website: www.capita-ld.co.uk

Big Ambition

Email: bigambition@e-skills.com

Website: www.bigambition.co.uk

Bring IT On

Irish enquiries

Website: www.bringitonni.info

Blitz Games Studios

Email: info@blitzgamesstudios.com

Website: www.blitzgamesstudios.com/blitz_academy

Guardian Technology

Address: Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU

Tel: 020 3353 2000

Email: tech@guardian.co.uk

Website: www.guardian.co.uk/technology

Creative & Cultural Skills

Skills for craft, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts

Email: london@ccskills.org.uk

Website: ccskills.org.uk

People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales

Email: peopleexchangecymru@gov.wales

Website: www.peopleexchangecymru.org.uk/home

Train2Game

Website: train2game.com

Access Creative College

Email: admissions@accesscreative.ac.uk

Website: www.accesscreative.ac.uk

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