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How to Become a Games Developer in the UK (with no degree and no experience)

Pursuing a career as a video game developer is the dream of gamers everywhere. The career promises to fulfill the ultimate fantasy of creating the perfect video game, which features high-quality graphics, intriguing storyline and iconic characters. Video game developers are individuals with advanced capabilities in programming and developing video games. A game developer can program games for different mediums, such as a console, PC, as well as smartphones. So how can someone become a games developer?

However, it takes more than just a passionate love for video games to become a game developer. If you have dreamt of pursuing this career, you may need to develop some love for Maths and Computer Sciences. The profession requires the combination of passion in the field of mathematics, programming, computer science, as well as creative arts. Therefore, if you are truly passionate about games, you must improve your skills in the preceding areas as well.

Taking this into account, the field of game development is not easy. While it doesn’t require a formal degree, it does require you to have certain set of skills. Refer to the following guide to make sure that you have what it takes to become a game developer in the UK, without a degree or experience.

What is a Game Developer and What Do They Do?

Game developers create, design, and test games. Typically, there are two types of video game developers, those who work alone, and those who work in a team. The latter category includes game developers who work for a game development firm such as Electronic Arts (EA). These individuals work with game designers, game writers and other developers.

On the other hand, game developers that work alone have extended duties. These individuals referred to as ‘indie developers’, come up with the entire idea of the game, create storylines, program the game and try to sell it online. To pursue a career as this type of game designer, you are not required to have a formal degree or experience.

However, in order to become an effective game developer, you would still need a small team to execute your idea. Typically, game development requires three phases.

Before the game is developed, the idea for a story is created, the designs are outlined, and prototypes are created. Once the pre-production stage is comprehensively planned, the production stage is started.

In the production phase, the game designers create a compelling design that determines the ways in which the game would work. Following this, the game programmers add the required code which brings the game to life.

The last phase of game development includes the testing phase. At this stage, the game is run through various tests to ensure that it functions proficiently. If any error is discovered in the game design, it is amended and perfected. When the game is in its optimal form, it is released for use on online platforms.

The roles of traditional game developers vary from project to project. However, a traditional game developer writes down the ideas and concepts for the characters, they plan out the level, create a script, carry out research and design the layout for the game. In addition to this, game developers are also responsible for writing codes, editing and implementing changes, generating game menus and permitting online access.

Moreover, as game development is a collective effort, it is imperative for the game developers to have effective communication skills, so they can convey their ideas and get their points across to the consumer.

All in all, game developer plans, designs and creates a video game that works on computer, smartphones and gaming consoles. The key responsibilities of a video game designer include the generation of visually-appealing, era-specific graphic content, in addition to writing the relevant code to ensure that the design functions proficiently. While passion fuels game development, pursuing a career in the field involves having proficient knowledge over software development, mathematics and computer science.

Average Salary of a Game Developer

The value of a video game developer comes from their individual skill-set, the ability to execute an idea, their location, as well as their degree of experience. If the game developer has the right skills, they can land a job that pays an above-average salary.

With that said, in the field of game development, there is a huge pay gap, relative to gender. The data collected from thirty-one survey responses show that 90.3% of males are paid the average amount, whereas, only 9.7% of women are paid equally.

The salary of a video game developer varies in terms of their experience, skills and abilities. Starting out in the field, a video game designer is able to earn around £22,000 to £39,000 per year. However, like any other field, the salary of a game developer sees a rise, as the experience grows.

At the earliest stage of their careers, game developers earn an average salary of £25,000 annually. However, once they gain some relevant experience in the field, they are able to earn a steady amount, which could be in the region of £30,00 per year. This amount is paid to developers with at least 1 to 4 years of experience in the industry.

Similarly, game developers who have been in the field for a period of 5 to 9 years are able to earn an average salary of £36,000. Therefore, the field of game designing offers the opportunity for growth.

Having said that, the amount can rise and fall, depending on your level of expertise. For instance, game developers with skill in software development can earn a salary that is 13% above the average rate. Similarly, game developers with expertise in C++ Programming Language are able to earn 9% more than the national average.

Another valuable skill, which has a positive impact on game development, is Object Oriented Programming (OOP). Game developers with proficiency in this area are able to earn more than the national average.

On the other hand, there are several skills, which when practised alone, can have a negative impact on the salary. Game developers with the sole expertise in C# Programming Language, Unity Engine, Game Design, and Video/Computer Gaming Software, acquire a payment that is less than the national average.

Another factor that plays a significant role in salary is your location. Game designers situated in London are able to earn 20% more than the national average, whereas, those in Manchester earn 7% less. In addition to this, game developers located in Leamington, England, are typically rewarded a salary that is 16% less than the national average. Therefore, before pursuing a career in game development, take these factors into account.

Skills and Talents To Become a games developer

In order to pursue a career in game development, there are several paths that you could follow. If you wish to land a job in a software or game developing company, you would need to complete a minimum of Bachelor’s degree in computer science or any other related fields. On the other hand, if you are braced to pursue a career as an indie game developer, you do not require a formal degree. Rather, all you need are programming skills, sufficient knowledge in the industry, along with the ensuing skills:

The ability to come up with fresh ideas

The profession of game development requires you to come up with fresh ideas to develop a compelling game. For this purpose, having a passion for video games is paramount. If you are passionate about playing games, you may have an idea on what gamers (the target audience) want. This knowledge, combined with your own creativity, can help you come up with innovative and captivating ideas.

Proficiency in programming languages

Essentially, a career in game development is impossible without having fluency in a programming language. As there are thousands of programming languages, it is very difficult to be proficient in all of them. However, you must have complete and an exhaustive understanding of a few languages, which are popular in the game development industry. Some of the most popular programming languages include C++, Java, HTML 5, CSS3, JavaScript, and SQL.

Using and editing scripting language

In addition to having fluency in a programming language(s), it is equally important to have some knowledge of editing and scripting language. Scripting languages are high-level languages, which are necessary in developing some games. Therefore, having a certain degree of knowledge in this area is essential.

The ability to carry out research

Conducting detail-oriented research is a significant part of game development. Every game is set in a certain era or time period, which is defined by the detail in graphics, design and the spoken language of the characters. Hence, as a game developer, it is imperative to carry out comprehensive research to ensure that every element of the game is perfected and aligned with the period in which it was set.

Design skills

As an indie game developer, you need to have proficiency or some understanding of game design. This way, even if you end up building a team of game designers, you would still be able to assess the quality of the design. Additionally, holding an understanding of game design can further assist you in hiring the right individual. Therefore, it is important to educate yourself in this industry as well.

The ability to take feedback

Being a game developer is an arduous job. Even if you end up creating the perfect game, you would still have to deal with the criticism of the audience. Considering this, you must possess the ability to handle feedback, and learn from it.

Communication skills

Creating a game is near impossible if you attempt the entire project yourself. To handle this job, you would need to work in a team of highly-skilled individuals. As a result, you are required to have proficient communication skills, which enable to guide, direct and manage the team with efficiency.

Knowledge of game trends

The game development industry is ever-changing. One day, your game could be at the top, but the very next day, it could fade into the background. Keeping this in mind, it is crucial for you to have knowledge of the fluctuating trends of the gaming industry. Having this knowledge would make sure that you create the ideal game, which is in-demand, while also filling the gaps in the gaming market.

Starting Your Career | Become a Games Developer Guru (Showcase your talent on YouTube)

You can gain recognition in the world of game development by promoting yourself on numerous social media platforms. For the gaming community, YouTube is the ideal platform, which allows people to connect, interact and come together as a community. Hence, to get started in game development, starting a YouTube channel can place you one step ahead. Traditionally, game developers post the following content.

Tutorial videos

Uploading game development tutorial videos can help you gain some recognition in the game development industry. It would make you a household name and encourage firms to seek out your services.

Game reviews

You can also upload videos on YouTube that review a plethora of popular games. If your content is engaging, you can get a good following. Once you gather fans, you can either start a GoFundMe account to start your first project, or you can wait for the projects to come to you.

Gaming videos

The simplest way to gather a following on YouTube is to film gaming videos. Most members of the gaming community are intrigued by watching experts surpass different levels in the most popular video games. Taking this initiative will build your name in the gaming industry. Additionally, you can also monetise from these videos by adding advertisements, or by creating a YouTube Premium account.

Conclusion – Is Becoming a Games Developer Right for You?

Game development may be your passion, but you need to have the required skills and talents to pursue a career in this field. Moreover, game development further involves a lot of technical elements. If maths is not your strong suit, pursuing this career may not be the right path.

With that said, if the passion for the field is enough to make you want to refine your skills in the aforementioned areas, you can start your career as a game developer by promoting your brand on social media platforms, particularly YouTube. In doing so, you can build a strong following, which can help you create your name in the industry. Subsequently, the choice of becoming an indie game developer or working as a part of a game development firm would lie in your hands.

All in all, once you have the passion, the drive, and the skills to become a game developer, starting a career in game development could make your dream come true!

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