How To Prepare To Become A Game Developer

How to Be a Game Developer

Game developers need to be gamers themselves

In the past, we’ve written about the useful skills required to be a game developer. However, simply having the skills is not always a guarantee into any industry. Are you interested in being a game developer? Take note as we share five of the simple secrets to prepare to become a game developer.

1. Play Games & Take Notes

Of course the first step to being a game developer is being a gamer, but being a gamer is not enough. The average gamer plays for self-interest and entertainment. The gamer who wants to become a developer must play with a different goal.

If you want to become a good game developer, you must approach gaming with an attitude of learning and critique. Start evaluating your favorite games. What style of strategy is involved? Are there any quirky elements that make this game standout? What is it about the visuals that appeals to you? When you stop playing for the day, what motivates you to return to the game tomorrow? Also evaluate games you didn’t like. What made you stop playing? What would make it better?

Also, while playing or shortly after a session, write down thoughts about the game and the pros and cons experienced during the session. These notes will help you develop game ideas that are thoughtful, visually attractive, and long-lived.

2. Make a Game

Now that you have your notebook full of what works and what doesn’t, it’s time to attempt making your own game. This step may take a while, depending on your existing level of coding knowledge. If you’re just beginning, there are some excellent online courses offering step-by step guidance to game engines like Phaser and others.

There are several different learning styles, do you know yours? For some game developers, learning by trial and error is the best. Don’t expect instant success and instead learn to self-critique for improvement.

3. Get Good At Communication

Developing a game for market will likely involve more people than just the developer. Even if you choose to independently publish, you’ll need help with marketing, shipping and manufacturing (unless it’s a mobile app game,) and bookkeeping/accounting. You may even need assistance with the game or visual design, depending on complexity. For all these efforts, you’ll need to be a good communicator.

The professionalism you exhibit in communication with others via email, phone, IM, or snail mail will often affect the success of your title. Here again, there are online courses that may assist with the development of good communication skills, although these are often also learned at home and school.

4. Attend Conferences

Make a list of all the upcoming industry related conferences in your area. Aim to attend two or three per year. Keep your wallet or purse stocked with business cards as you make connections, but also go just to learn what’s new and happening in the game world.

5. Make Connections

If you want to be a game developer, it’ll be easier if you start making connections. What is a connection? A connection could be anyone in the industry with whom you share a common interest and are willing to maintain a simple relationship with.

Beyond attending industry conferences, there are many ways to make connections. Forums, social media, meet-ups, and blog comments are a great way to make introductions.

In the end, it takes a lot of internal motivation to be a game developer. Don’t let little things stop you and be willing to learn new things. Be sure to also read our previous post regarding skill sets for game developers.

[Photo Credit: Blake Patterson]