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How to Get Into Game Development: Top Tips

by Michael Smith on 07/07/17 04:29:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


I got into game development through a rather unusual avenue. I won’t go into that here as it’s something I have already discussed at length, but it does beg the question: what is a “usual” method? Or rather, how can you get into game development if that’s what you want to do?

Here are some top tips to help:


Your first step should be to jump into C++ programming. If you have no programming knowledge beforehand then it may seem overwhelming, but it will begin to clear up eventually. Some experts advise that you start with basic programming languages first, but many of these languages will not be of any use to you whatsoever.

So, don’t waste your time learning something you can’t envisage yourself using at a later date. Get involved now, jump straight in and before long you could have mastered C++. There are very few people out there who are true masters of this language, so if you can get to that level then you’ll never have an issue finding work in this industry.

Have Fun

It’s important to have some fun while you learn. C++ will bore the hell out of you to begin with, as you won’t create anything of interest for sometime. So, while you’re getting to grips with this, take sometime to play around with programs like GameMaker and RPG Maker. You’ll have some fun and you’ll begin to understand what sort of long hours, hard work and unbelievable stress goes into creating a video game.

Make Sure You Know What you Want

Of course, the above tips are only relevant if you want to be a programmer. That’s not the be all and end all of game development. There is much more to it. If you want to create an indie game, one that involves the work of one or several people, then you’ll need to program. But if you want to work on big games as part of big teams, then there are many aspects.

You could work in the art department, in which case you’ll need to understand basics like Photoshop and advanced 3D animation programs. I know someone who makes a very good wage doing this, even though his only experience prior to it was developing stickers for a printing company. He got there on dedication and a great portfolio.

You might want to work as a voice-over artist, or in the audio department. There are many aspects of a modern game, so find your niche and focus on it.

Find an Internship

Once you have the skills then it’s time to get experience. Ideally you need to work as an intern or apprentice at a major gaming company. They will teach you most of what you need to know to make it at this level. They may not pay you well, but they will set you up for life.

You can also work as a freelancer on sites like Upwork (discussed in more detail below) or as part of a small indie team. Some freelancing projects and indie companies will pay little but reward you with royalties. This is a great incentive if you love the game and the idea, as it gives you an incentive and it teaches you more about game development at all levels, from creation to marketing.

Don’t Give Up

I recently commented on a client’s story, which was rather unusual to say the least. To summarize, he had no involvement with games, he then won a distracted driving case and he suddenly had all the money he needed to get involved. He invested, he paid freelancers to do all the work, and he was successful.

It just goes to show that you don’t always need the skill, providing you have the funds and the delegation skills. It also shows that if you do have the skills and can’t get hired for a big company, then you could always work on a freelance basis (as I did for many years) taking payments from aspiring game developers like this.

There is no end to the opportunity and the money you can make, and that’s what makes this industry so special.

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