What does a Game Programmer do?

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Game programmers write and develop software to create video games. They make sure that the game design is fully implemented and translate game concepts into clean and efficient code. Game programmers work in collaboration with game designers and developers to create task deliverables as well as set work deadlines. What does a game developer do?

What is Game Programming?

Game programming is a subsection of game development and refers to the code written to bring a game to life. It involves taking specifications from developers and translating it into a game that’s functional and playable.

Most games are written using C or C++ programming language and require strong computer, mathematical and logical skills. 

Role Overview of a Game Programmer - Responsibilities, Skills, Background and Salary
Role Overview of a Game Programmer

Game programming is a complex task and requires a large group of programmers to work together. This is because programmers are in charge of everything, from mapping out the terrain of the game to implementing AI. 

Because of the complex nature of this field, there are specializations within it, some of which include – network programming, UI programming, input programming and sound programming.

Role of a Game Programmer

A game programmer’s primary role is to write efficient code that is in line with the game developers specifications. They are essentially in charge of bringing a game to life. They assemble platforms that power the games and are in charge of choosing the coding language.

Programmers work closely with designers and developers during the whole process and are responsible for ensuring that production runs smoothly. They create unit tests and procedures and document the specifications.

Responsibilities of a Game Programmer
Responsibilities of a Game Programmer

They may also be required to script functions and interactions and stimulate AI in opponents. Game programmers essentially create the User Interface and develop custom tools, when required.

They also create prototypes during the early stages of the process and troubleshoot and debug any issues that may arise. 

What are the roles and responsibilities of a Game Programmer?

  • Write efficient code in line with the game developer’s specifications
  • Assemble platforms that power the games
  • Choose which coding language will be used
  • Work closely with designers and developers during the whole process
  • Ensure production runs smoothly
  • Create unit tests and procedures
  • Document specifications
  • Write Script functions and interactions
  • Stimulate AI in opponents
  • Create UI 
  • Develop custom tools
  • Create early stage prototypes
  • Troubleshoot and debug issues

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Skills of a Game Programmer

The most crucial skill that a game programmer must have is the ability to write clean and efficient code. Solid knowledge of various programming languages like C++ and Java is also a requirement. 

Experience working with game engines such as Unreal Engine, Unity and GameMaker is important as is the knowledge of 2D and 3D animation software

Skills of a Game Programmer
Skills of a Game Programmer

Game programmers must be aware of the internal mechanisms of various gaming platforms and are also required to be familiar with the game production process. They should have a wide-ranging knowledge of gaming genres and trends and be aware of various advancements in the gaming industry.

Game programmers must possess strong mathematical skills and should be able to work well in a team. They are also required to have an analytical mindset, strong communication and problem-solving skills and must be able to meet deadlines and client requirements.

What skills are needed to be a Game Programmer?

  • Ability to write clean and efficient code
  • Solid knowledge of various programming languages like C++ and Java
  • Experience working with game engines such as Unreal Engine, Unity and GameMaker
  • Knowledge of 2D and 3D animation software
  • Knowledge about the internal mechanisms of various gaming platforms
  • Familiarity with the game production process
  • Wide-ranging knowledge of gaming genres and trends
  • Knowledge of various advancements in the gaming industry
  • Strong mathematical skills 
  • Ability to work well in a team
  • Analytical mindset
  • Strong communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to meet deadlines and client requirements

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Background

How hard is it to become a Game Programmer? If you want to become a game programmer, you’ll need to consider getting a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering or a related field. While this is not strictly required, employers often lean towards candidates that possess degrees. 

Online training and certification courses also go a long way in the eyes of your employers. Check out some options for these below:

Salary

Entry-level game programmers and beginners can earn approximately $44,000 annually. The average salary for game programmers with a few years of experience is $65,000 whereas for senior programmers, the salary can go up to $96,000.

The salary range in Germany for Game Programmers is between €30,000 to €68,000 while in the UK, it ranges from £20,000 to £41,000.

How much does a Game Programmer make?

Junior $44,000
Average $65,000
Senior $96,000

How much does a freelance Game Programmer make?

Average Hourly Rate of a Freelance Game Programmer
Average Hourly Rate of a Freelance Game Programmer

The average freelancer hourly rate of a game programmer is $56. Extrapolated to an 8-hour day, the daily rate is around $448 (freelancermap price index – April 2021).

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Natalia Campana

Natalia is part of the international team at freelancermap. She loves the digital world, social media and meeting different cultures. Before she moved to Germany and joined the freelancermap team she worked in the US, UK and her home country Spain. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at www.freelancermap.com

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