Game development is a challenging field that involves heavy programming, logical problem-solving, and computer science. Web development is similar in some ways, yet very different. So can a web developer become a game developer?
Web developers can become game developers if they practice making algorithms and developing mathematical problem-solving skills. Putting together a game development portfolio is key for professionals looking to make this switch, as it’s the number one way to prove to employers what you can do.
Read on to learn more about the best way to move from web development to game development. This article will teach you everything you need to know to make a change in your career path.
The Best Way To Move From Web Development to Game Development
The move from web development to game development is more straightforward than you think. Game development is very similar to web development, just with vastly more opportunities for user interaction. Game development can be a welcome challenge for mid-career web developers looking for their next move.
Web developers who want to get into game development should practice their skills in logical problem-solving, artificial intelligence, physics, and multi-user networking. The job of a game programmer is to bring a game designer’s ideas to life, including everything from the way the visuals look to the way physics works within the game world.
How To Get Started in Game Development
The first thing you should do if you want to get started in game development is to build a portfolio of projects. This will highlight your skills for employers so that they can see how your experience could transfer.
Building a Game Development Portfolio
Building a solid portfolio is key to making it in game development, especially if you don’t have any experience in the field yet. The following are some tips and tricks to consider when putting together your game development portfolio:
- Start small. Your first few pieces in your portfolio are allowed to be small projects. Trying to take on too much right away can backfire if you end up with a lower-quality project.
- Highlight your strengths. If you’re good with front-end development, make an application with an interesting user interface. If back-end development is your strong suit, make interesting use of data.
- Display projects that use mathematics. The more you can include projects that display mathematical processing and logic skills, the more employers will see your relevant strengths.
- Include diverse projects. You don’t always know who’ll be looking at your portfolio, so you need to make sure that you show off various skills. Even for just one potential employer, it helps to include a range of skills and qualifications.
- Write about your projects. Showing that you can’t only program but also communicate about your programs will make you stand out to employers.
- Use a simple layout. Make your projects the focus by avoiding unnecessary noise. Use simple colors like black and white, and don’t add distracting features.
Learning Languages for Game Development
If you’re planning to move into game development from web development, you may need to supplement your skills with a new language.
The most common programming languages used in game development are C and C++, although Perl, Lua, and Assembly are also common. You may learn these on the job as well, but the more you can bring into your first game development interview, the better.
Although C++ is very popular in the game development business, it doesn’t mean that you can’t use it for web development (although other languages might be better at it).
Do You Need a Computer Science Degree for Game Development?
Most game developers have a computer science or computer engineering degree. It isn’t a requirement, but it’ll help you if you’re looking to move into game development from web development.
If you don’t have a computer science degree, you might consider a certificate program or boot camp to supplement your experience. The Tech Academy, Codaisseur, and Holberton School are a few options to consider.
How Is Game Development Different From Web Development?
Game development is similar to web development in that both use programming languages to bring a virtual world or screen to life. However, there are also key differences.
Is Game Development Harder Than Web Development?
Many professionals consider game development to be more challenging than web development. Games and their engines are incredibly complex and involve heavy mathematics to facilitate the user’s actions. Game development is also a more competitive field, whereas there are typically many job opportunities available for web developers.
Game Developer Salary vs. Web Developer Salary
In the United States, game developers earn about $71,295 a year on average, compared to the $72,090 a year that web developers make on average. In either field, more senior developers will make more money than their junior counterparts, so don’t be discouraged if your first offer for a job in game development is lower than you’d like.
Jobs in Game Development
There are several different kinds of jobs available in game development, and the right one for you depends on what you want to focus your career on.
These are some of the most common careers in game development are:
- Lead Programmer: supervises the development of a game, coaching junior programmers and ensuring that the code meets quality standards.
- Artificial Intelligence Programmer: creates computer-controlled characters and features in a game that are built to respond intelligently to user input.
- Graphics Programmer: integrates artwork into a game through graphics-producing algorithms, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional.
- Network Programmer: enables fair online gameplay by creating secure networks for user traffic.
- Physics Programmer: determines how objects interact with each other, like explosions, collisions, and splashes.
- Tools Programmer: makes processes easier for other developers, simplifying things like creating new levels in the same game.
- User Interface Programmer: responsible for interactions like menus, giving players options and instructions for interaction based on artwork.
Web developers can become game developers if they put work into developing their portfolios and practice skills in math and physics. Game development involves more mechanical thinking and logical problem-solving than web development. While some programming skills may transfer, web developers need to be prepared to learn independently if they want to switch.