How to Begin a Career in Video Game Design or Development

Photo by Sam Pak on Unsplash

Video games have a reputation for being violent and causing kids to act like the characters they play do. However, video games can also be educational, informational, and a healthy coping mechanism to stress. On the other end, video game design and development provides people with a creative, sometimes challenging career.

But there is a difference between video game design and video game development.

Design vs. Development

The design area of video games is specifically about the visual and creative elements of building the game. These developers are typically part of a team. They work on characters, settings, worldbuilding, animation, and more. Any creative aspect of video game development is actually the job of a video game designer.

Video game development, on the other hand, is a more technical part of the process. These developers are commonly referred to as programmers because they create and edit the code that makes up video games. They make the game playable, coordinating with other team members to ensure players have a smooth experience.

The Financial Aspect

In terms of salary, game developers and programmers both make around $65,000 a year in the US. Having a degree in a relevant field can increase that average up to $75,000 annually, though that’s with the assumption that the person has several years of experience.

Video game design and development is extremely competitive, bringing in over $100 billion worldwide every year. However, the diversity in the games themselves and the people who make them has expanded in recent years.

Starting a Career

To break into the video game industry, follow the steps below:

  1. If possible, obtain a degree in a related field.

Developers can be self-taught (and most are nowadays) but earning a degree in a field like Computer Science could set developers apart from other potential candidates.

  • Create a portfolio of work.

Companies rely on resumes and portfolios when they hire developers. Portfolios are good examples of what a candidate is capable of, as well as providing a look into the candidate’s preferences or specialties.

  • Utilize recommendations where available.

Since the industry is so competitive, any recommendations from previous employers or colleagues have a higher chance of gaining the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager.

  • Enter competitions.

Similar to portfolios, any skills demonstrated through competitions would benefit in the hiring process. This can show potential employers that the developer is dedicated to finishing their projects, understands that deadlines are important and sticks to them, and isn’t afraid to think outside the box.


To get a job as a video game designer or developer, having dedication and patience is the key. Coding skills can be learned. Additionally, creativity could be trained, but understanding the industry is the first step. Accountability, mental exhaustion, challenges, and problem-solving are other things every developer should consider before he or she enters the industry.

Developers who work on video games often do it for the creativity they can incorporate into something that challenges them. In short, they enjoy feeling satisfied after pushing themselves to finish a tough project.