Video games are now the biggest entertainment industry in the UK. Grand Theft Auto V, a British game, grossed over £1bn in three days. There has never been a more exciting time to be a part of the games industry.
The term ‘games developer’ can refer to a wide range of different jobs within a games studio, from artists, 3D artists and animators to designers and producers. However, the most vital job in games development is that of a programmer, so that is the one we will focus on.
Before you start work on a project as a programmer, designers will have developed the brief and artists and writers will have provided concept material. You will have a good idea of the genre of game you are making and the types of mechanics you will be helping to build.
The shape and direction of the game you are making can change many times during development. You will be in constant communication with designers, artists and the rest of the team throughout the process.
As the game’s features start to come together it will enter alpha stage, where playtesting will begin. The beta stage comes next, where the game is mostly feature complete and the design is locked down, and development moves to testing and polish.
You can’t get into the games industry just because you love video games. You need to have a useful skill, such as knowledge of programming languages such as C or C++.
There are courses offered in games development, although these offer a general, non-specialised education. A computer science degree or diploma is a more effective way to get into programming in games. Another way into the industry is through QA (or Quality Assurance), working as a tester finding bugs in a game.
However, the best way to break into games development may be to start work on a game yourself, teaming up with other people at your level who have the necessary skills.
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