By John Sonmez May 19, 2016

Is Game Development Career Viable?

Is Game Development Career Viable?

Some people dream of becoming a game developer. And I include myself in this statistic. For a long time, I've dreamed of becoming and working with game development.

For those who don't know, Video game development is the process of creating a video game. Development is undertaken by a game developer, which may range from one person to a large business.

But… Is this a viable career path? Can you actually make money by becoming a game developer? Is the competition high? What should you do in order to become a game developer? How should you start?

Transcript Of The Video:

John Sonmez: 

Hey, what’s up, John Sonmez from simpleprogrammer.com. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about game development. I’m going to try answer some of those questions. Of course, if you know my background I started out really wanting to become a game developer that’s why I really became a programmer in the first place. If you want to hear my history I’ve got a video here that’s—3-part so far series of my history through my career. I started off wanting to do game development.

Anyway, so I get a lot of questions about whether it’s viable. I got this question and it says, “Hi John, how’s it going? I’m a 19-year-old college student and I’m interested in the gaming industry mostly in programming. I’ve been doing some basic tutorials for different game engines and languages and I’m not really sure what to do about school. I’ve been doubting that a degree would be good for me. I recently found block.io and it looks interesting. The android developer option looks cool and it’s shorter and less expensive than others. There seems to be lots of boot camps or web development and software engineering but none for game development like working on a PC or consul games either making your own or working with other people. Do you have any advice? Is software engineering and web development a good thing to look into even though it doesn’t seem as interesting right now? Thanks for your time.”

This is sort of a tough one, right? I mean game development is difficult to get into. Why? Because everyone wants to get in the game development, I mean who wouldn’t want to? The only thing I can think of that would be more difficult to get in to besides game development and certain industries, adult industries that we won’t name here would probably be game testing. Who wouldn’t want to test games, right?

But a game developer it’s definitely difficult to break into but you can do it and you can go to school for it. I’m going to give you 2 schools that I’ve always wanted to attend. One of them—I don’t know a lot about these schools but I’ve heard of them and they’re game development schools specifically. One of them is DigiPen so check that one out. The other one is here in—near me in Orlando called Full Sail University. I’ve heard of them. I’ve heard really good things. In fact, just a few years ago I was tempted to go get a degree from there just because I wanted to go to the school because it seemed like it would be cool.

I don’t know of any boot camps that would actually do game development and I don’t know if you really want to. I think if you wanted—I think game development is in depth enough and that you need enough connections that you probably want to go to school to do that. There’s a lot of things that I don’t recommend schooling for but this seems like one of them just primarily because of the connections and just the in depth amount of topics that are going to be difficult for you to learn on your own.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t be self-taught. I taught myself how to develop games. Of course, I’m not an expert but—and I’ve taught other people how to develop games. I did some PluralSight courses. You can check them out here on game development. You can watch mines if you want as well, but it’s simple stuff. It’s not very complicated stuff.

If you want to do complicated 3D stuff and rendering and you want to get the full gamut of not just doing game development but the art and design and stuff like that you probably need a more formal training in that or you need to really focus and figure out what you could teach yourself on.

Now let’s get into the question of should you do web development or game development like is game development actually viable. It’s viable, but it’s going to take a lot of work. You better be ready to fight and compete and be the best of the best if you’re going to make it there. If you just sort of want to get a job with game development, just get a job doing web development and develop your own games on the side because that’s going to be better. You’re going to definitely be able to get a job there and make some money.

You’ve got to decide for yourself whether it’s worth it. It might not even be worth pay wise. Again, a lot of opportunities where people want to do the opportunity it doesn’t pay as well as the other things. You might make a lot more money doing web development, and in game development you might make less money and work a whole lot more hours. I know a lot of game developers for some of the big studios work ridiculous hours but they like it, but they enjoy it. They don’t care that they’re getting paid less because they’re doing what they really, really want to do. You’re going to have to make that decision.

I do think it is viable. I think that you can make it in that industry but I think there’s a lot of competition and you’re going to have to really, really focus on it. It’s not going to just fall on your lap. I’m not saying web development would but it’s going to be a lot easier for you to get in. there’s going to be a lot more opportunities.

The other option I would give you is you could do independent game development. There’s a lot of developers that make money as Indie game developers. You can self teach yourself and you don’t have to get into the complex 3Dstuff I know that you can develop iOS and android games or you can develop games and sell them on some of the Indie platforms. Probably not going to make a lot of money doing that unless you have a runaway hit, it’s very competitive but that’s an option. You can always do it as a part time thing as well and see. Maybe you get your regular job as a web developer right now and then you start doing any development part time and then maybe if that business says well you can transition into doing that fulltime, I know plenty of people who have done that.

The key thing though is, think about it, make your choices upfront. Decide what your future is, what you want your goal to be and then start moving in that direction. If it’s professional game development for a big studio it’s probably going to be somewhere like Full Sail University or DigiPan. If it’s independent then you can live on macaroni and cheese and try to make it and see what you could do or you could do the web development and do the independent on the side if it’s, “I just want to make money and just program. Game development would be nice.” Then just go with the easy route and become a web developer or whatever. Don’t specialize in game development and just do it as a hobby.

Anyway, great question. I know that there are a lot of you out there that are curious about game development. I hope to do some more videos on that topic. Let me know, thumbs up. I’ll leave some comments if you’d like to hear more topics on game development in general or if you’d like me to interview someone who does games. I think that might be pretty cool.

Anyway, you can email me at john@simpleprogrammer.com. If you like this video, subscribe.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."