3 Things Studios Want in a Game Programmer

Increased popularity in computer, mobile, and console gaming has peaked the interest of many individuals seeking to break into the game programming industry. Well, that and the prospect of designing the next AAA title and becoming a part of a triple billion-dollar industry. Being a game programmer is a role that is rewarded highly in one of the top-grossing industries in the world – but for those who want to make it their career will be entering a highly competitive field.

You want in? Let’s unpack a handful of the most important traits for a solid and well-rounded game programmer.

1. Live and breathe games.

Academy of Interactive Entertainment - Game Programmer“Fun is not the same as fulfillment.” – Tom Bissel (Author of Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter)

First off and possibly the most obvious is that you must have a passion for video games. Imagine if someone who hated cooking, yet they still wanted to become a chef. Yeah, that probably wouldn’t work out too well. Most studios look for people who know the difference between a good game and a bad game. Chances are the only people who can discern the two are – you guessed it – gamers. If a good writer is also an avid reader, then a good game programmer is also an avid gamer.

However, it doesn’t end at your passion for playing games. Playing games is a great way to analyze gameplay functions, but you’ll need to get your feet wet into actual coding. C++ and C# are top languages recommended by our faculty; our instructors are industry experts who share their knowledge in a studio-simulated classroom.

2. Make mistakes and learn from others.

“It turns out that many of the traits, habits, beliefs, and actions that teenagers and young adults pick up playing video games and working with handheld gadgets will help them as they enter the ever-changing global workforce.” – Karl M. Kapp (Author of The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-Based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education)

Ask yourself: how do you learn from errors and how do you respond to fixing those errors? Game programming may be the foundation of a game, but even a programming prodigy can stand to learn from their errors.

Our Game Programming students learn to bounce back by developing razor sharp problem-solving skills, and an open mind to learn from their peers. When you’re willing to learn from others, it humbles you enough to realize that you don’t have all the answers – but you’re willing to find those answers. Being able to handle recommendations for change, or facing criticism is a part of being a professional, and this is still something that even veterans struggle with. In short, be humble. Listen, and don’t just wait for your turn to talk. Face criticism with the skills to come up with solutions not only by yourself, but on a team when plans go south.

3. Be a critical-thinking machine.

Game Programmer -“Games are transforming the brains of people who play them in largely positive ways.” – Jane McGonigal (Game Designer, TED Talk Speaker)

Lastly, a solid game programmer will have stellar mathematical and critical-thinking skills. Applying your technical skills is where creativity comes into play. If there’s one thing video game enthusiasts enjoy, it is different ideas or gameplay functions for games. Whether it’s thinking outside the box by developing new gameplay mechanics – or identifying bugs in the games you play – being a game programmer is both lucrative and rewarding, especially for those who are always up for a challenge.