It’s interesting to note that though their titles are quite similar, game developers and other developers are often quite different both in educational background and skill set. The skills and personality traits generally required to make a great game developer have some unique twists. Here are a few:
Sense of Motion & Gravity
The speed at which a character falls, the direction of exploding materials, and the lightness or heaviness of foot are all determined by the skillful consideration of motion and gravity. Game developers must have a strong grasp of the physical world, in order to reasonably replicate the details in the back-end of any game.
While other developers may have little end-game in mind while hunched over a desk crunching numbers and coding software, their game industry counterparts must consider how the various art forms will be affected by or interact with certain developments. Artful intelligence — an awareness and keen understanding of music, visual art, storytelling, and character design — is essential for any game developer.
Game developers must have creativity, but how that creativity is expressed may vary from developer to developer. Where software or app developers may only need general coding and programming skills with a dash of audience appeal, game developers need to see the whole picture to excel in their jobs. Creativity is also essential when it comes to problem solving glitches and bugs within game play.
Love of Games!
In other fields of development, your personal hobbies and interests usually matter little to the employer. However, in the case of game development, having an enthusiastic love of games outside of work is critical. Without it, potential employers may scratch their heads in amazement that you even applied for a job. As a developer, you need to envision the gaming experience from the perspective of a gamer, so truly you must be a gamer yourself.
Again and again, game developers are asked to make games “fun.” This ambiguous request may seem incredulous to those not in the industry, but all game developers know that if a game isn’t fun, it will not sell, and they may be out of work. In order to understand what fun is, a game developer must himself enjoy fun too.
In the gaming industry, a producer may have one idea this week only to change it completely next week. Developers must have a flexible personality and be willing to start over completely when needed — and that may be quite frequently. According to 2014 research by Microsoft, when compared to jobs in software development, game developers consistently state they often do less design work because of the high probability of change.
Skills Shared With Other Developers
In addition to the above unique characteristics, an employable game developer must have a good understanding of the basics as well. These include knowledge of the C++ and OpenGL computer languages, solid math skills, unit testing abilities, familiarity with REST web services, mobile technology skills, and excellent communication. At least a basic understanding of Ruby and Python are good too, depending on game platform and functionality. Finally, all developers in any field must be willing to learn new mediums and technologies. In two years, what you know now will be ancient.
A brief survey of the game developer characteristics above gives some insight to the industry at large — it’s fun, artful, creative, technically apt, and did we mention fun? Yes, we love our jobs.
Have some more skills to add to this list? Share them with us!
[Photo Credit: Dave Allen]