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What Does a Video Game Programmer Do?

What Does a Video Game Programmer Do?

Ever wondered what goes behind all those fantabulous video games that keep you glued to your HDTV screen for hours at end? What does a video game programmer do? Let's get into the shoes of a game programmer and find out his contribution towards making those superb games such big hits!
CareerStint Staff
Before we get to take a closer look at the particulars of a video game programmer's job, let me first set the record straight - a video game programmer is not the same as a video game developer or a video game designer. While most often these three terms are, erroneously, used interchangeably, all three profiles are totally different, so are the respective job descriptions. So, what does a video game designer do? Well, a game designer is responsible for developing the gameplay, viz., the challenges, stages, rules, environment, story line progress, etc. What about the game developer - what does he do? A video game developer is responsible for developing and managing the entire software project of a particular video game. Video game designing and programming are sub tasks of video game development. Coming to game programming, what does a video game programmer do? Let's get to the details now.

Video Game Programmer Job Description

As most of you tech-enthusiasts out there must have deduced by the term programmer, the primary job of a game programmer is, indeed, writing the game code base. Once the video game developer has set out the guidelines and basics of the game, the video game programmer is entrusted with determining and developing the codes that regulate the more specific micro parameters of the game such as the speed of a moving object, the intensity of the colors, the various game effects such as reflection, bounce, dimensions of various elements with respect to each other and the game environment, etc. Also, it is the game programmer's duty to make sure that the game code does not allow the game to crash in between gameplay but ensures smooth continuity till it's game over time.

Qualifications and Eligibility Criteria

A video game programmer can be a graduate in software engineering or computer programming. A computer scientist or a graduate in video game or software development disciplines are also highly eligible for applying as video game programmers. It also helps if, besides the aforementioned primary disciplines, the applicant also holds a degree/ diploma/ relevant certification in the fields of artificial intelligence, game engineering (physics and graphics engine programming) and sound programming. The minimum qualification that is expected of an applicant for the job of a video game programmer is a bachelor's degree in computer science with excellent analytical skills and reasoning acumen. With many institutes offering career-oriented tailor-made courses these days, you can enroll yourself for a bachelor's degree for video game development and 3D graphics animation if this is the career field that beckons to you. Most employers consider academic specializations or experience in C, C++ or Java programming extremely desirable in freshers and during campus recruitment drives.

Video Game Programmer Salary

The entry-level average salary of a video game programmer is approximately $40,000 - $45,000 a year. Those individuals who come with at least a couple of years of experience in game programming or game coding can earn an average of $50,000 - $55,000 a year. Depending upon the game developing company that employs you and its various bonus and profit-sharing programs, a game programmer having at least 3-5 years experience can earn as much as $85,000 - $100,000 a year!

Besides fitting the bill for the aforementioned academic eligibility criteria, a passion for playing video games and active participation in open source software development programs helps round-up your software code development and game testing skills. An inherent interest in 3D graphics, animations and sound programming further helps boost your game programming skills. A developer may set the stage for a game and the designer may lay out the ground but it's the programmer who tweaks the micro environment and the various game parameters to make it a success in terms of the feel, effects and the overall gaming experience. Therefore, a programmer's job is akin to fixing the skin over the bones and muscles of the game.