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5 Tips to Launch Your Dream Career as a Game Developer

If you have a strong passion for gaming and want to leave your mark on the video game world, a game developer career is definitely the way to go. The average salary of $115,000 per year doesn’t hurt either, making it well worth the effort it takes to break into this competitive industry. And you can count on it being an uphill battle, for sure, especially if you’re located in an area fairly saturated with talented tech professionals. Fortunately, you can get past the initial hurdles and achieve great success by simply following these five tips on how to launch your dream career as a game developer.

Target a Niche

Although it’s good to have a broad view of the game development landscape as a whole, you need to focus on a niche to truly stand out from the crowd. There are many roles to consider in the game development world, such as:

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  • Concept artist
  • Storyboard artist
  • UI designer
  • Level designer
  • Animator
  • Programmer
  • Scriptwriter

To figure out your niche, think about where you want to focus your talents to start. As you advance your career, you may get to try out additional roles, especially if you work in small teams. So, you won’t be stuck with your initial choice if it’s not what you expected.

Get Well Educated

While you don’t have to go out and get a bachelor’s degree in computer science, game design, and the like, it certainly can’t hurt. Your degree will ensure you gain the right skills needed to excel in the industry while giving you a competitive edge.

If you do decide to go without formal education, do as many free tutorials as possible to build a strong skillset. Then, put your newfound skills to work in completing your own projects, like creating characters, building levels, and writing stories.

Build a Strong Portfolio

As you put your all into completing your own projects, start building a large portfolio full of your best work. You can then use the portfolio to demonstrate your game design skills whenever you’re ready to apply for your first job in the field.

A website format works best for a game developer portfolio. As you complete each web page, go in-depth about the process of making each piece to show the tools and techniques you used along the way.

Join the Gaming Community

A strong professional network is key in landing your dream job in the game design field. You can start building that network by joining gaming communities all over the web.

You might want to start by participating online at: 

  • GameDev.net
  • Indie Gamer
  • Devmaster
  • Quora

As you dig around online, you’ll also find groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, and other platforms dedicated to your niche of choice.

Start Networking at Tech Events

Attending game design conferences and other tech events is a great way to build your professional network. Start by looking for conferences hosted in your area – unless you have a big travel budget, that is. If you’re in Western Washington, for example, the Game UX Summit might be a great conference to attend.

At each event, focus on building relationships above all else – and the help building your career will naturally follow. Do what you can to volunteer your time helping others as well, so you can gain a great reputation in the industry.

With these tips on your side, you’re well on your way to a lucrative and rewarding game developer career. Just be sure to keep your eye on the prize and you’ll soon start to realize your dreams of becoming a leader in the game design world.