Is game development a field that piques your interest? If yes, you should be thinking of how to learn game development.
With over 2.8 billion gamers worldwide, building a career in game development could be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.
In 2024, the video game market is projected to hit over $282.30 billion, and revenue keeps growing yearly.
So, do you want to become a game developer and build a successful career in the field? If yes, read this article from start to finish.
What Is Game Development?
You don’t need to be a gamer to know what a game is. But you need special skills and knowledge to become a game developer.
A game developer is an individual who creates games using a combination of programming skills, psychology, and storytelling. Games developed can be played online and offline.
Offline, you can play video games on a PC, desktop, mobile device, and television. But it all depends on the developer. The developer may create a video game that runs only on a PC or desktop.
Game development involves the creation and programming of games. It could be done by a programmer or a team of expert programmers.
In other words, a single individual can develop a game, primarily simple games. Game development takes time and energy. Complex games can take years to create.
God of War is about 20½ hours in length. But did you know it took Sony Santa Monica to create the God of War series? Even the documentary covering the game took three years to document.
This explains why complex games require a team of developers instead of one person doing the job alone.
In game development, developers use a combination of the principles of game-play, psychology, and storytelling to create diverse games. They also use UX principles to design the user interface and programming language to develop in-game logic.
Video game development has gotten more advanced, though more accessible, thanks to the numerous tools available to developers. The various open-source products for graphics effects, level design, and sound effects have made developers’ jobs a breeze.
Another important thing these tools have done in game development is making it easier for independent developers to make their way into the market. Now, we have many games developed by these independent developers worldwide.
How To Learn Game Development From Scratch
Let’s start by stating that no clear path to learning game development exists. But there are steps you can follow to build a solid foundation career-wise.
Here are the steps you need to follow to become a game developer.
1: Take a final stand:
I had a friend who appreciated coding and never ceased to confess how much he wanted to learn how to code. Luckily for him, an opportunity to become a programmer came knocking. He took it, but halfway into the program, he quit.
Now, this is me talking to you. You have to make up your mind. Search your heart diligently. Do you want to venture into game development? Do you have an interest in learning programming?
Understand that learning programming is a rewarding decision but can be tricky. There will be moments where you would want to give up because of the confusion and abstractness of the programming language you’re learning.
These experiences will come. We don’t wish for such, but they’ll come. So, prepare your mind before you embark on this journey.
Understand that becoming a game developer will be challenging. But if you persist and focus on the goal, you’ll achieve what you want to become.
So, before becoming a game developer, search your heart. Is this a career path you want to follow? If yes, you’re good to go.
2: Start playing and evaluating more video games:
As someone interested in becoming a video game developer, your first move should be to develop a sound interest in the industry. How can you develop an interest in gaming?
You have to play video games. Play different types of games and observe them. Remember that you’re not playing for fun but to develop your interest and get inspiration.
When playing video games, carefully study every aspect. Try to figure out why the developer made certain decisions. Consider the game’s framework and how it develops as it progresses.
In general, learn about how the game works, its components, and how they interact. You might not get a proper answer at this stage of your game development journey. But as you keep learning, things will become clearer to you.
3: Think about a degree:
Some game developers don’t have a degree but are doing great. So, remember that you can become a game developer without a degree.
Having a degree as a game developer isn’t a bad idea, either. Degrees like programming, software engineering, and even computer science can be added advantages for you in the labor market.
Most employers require a degree when hiring game developers. However, having a degree without the skill or knowledge of the developer you claim to be isn’t a good idea.
If you plan to work with an established game development company, earning a relevant degree is a wise decision.
3: Get basic programming skills:
What do you need to do? The first step is to decide the programming language that interests you. Choose a programming language and learn it. You can take online courses to improve your knowledge. Just start from the basics if you’re a beginner.
Practice makes perfect, so keep practicing. Gain valuable experience writing codes via tutorials, and gradually start writing codes for projects.
With constant practice, you’ll become comfortable writing codes. Just maintain your consistency; you’ll get there in no time.
The programming languages you need to learn:
Everyone who has learned and mastered C++ knows it is a complex programming language. However, it is still a vital programming language for gaming developers.
C++ is widely used in the industry. In addition, it shares many similarities with C, a traditional software programming language.
This programming language allows complete optimization of your game. Another reason it is valuable for gaming development is the exceptional memory management, flexibility, and control it gives developers.
So, don’t let claims of C++ being complex prevent you from learning it. If you have the patience and are resilient, give it a try.
Python is much simpler to learn compared to C++. It boasts a straightforward syntax, which makes it easier for beginners to learn and grasp in no time.
Another thing you need to know is that Python is a scripting language with applications in several domains. These include artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science.
Learning Python offers you a unique way to enter the programming world. It is an excellent way for beginners to get a basic introduction to gaming design.
So, Python is great for beginners venturing into gaming development. But it isn’t famous for creating high-performance games.
Its readability, simplicity, and massive ecosystem libraries make it a wise choice for developing 2D games, prototypes, and even indie projects.
This object-oriented programming language is quite versatile. Its robust development environment and ease of use make it unique for game development.
C# is valuable for building unity games. Additionally, most programmers consider C# more straightforward to learn, understand, and use than C++.
This programming language offers a good balance between accessibility and performance.
Just visit the game’s site and play. You don’t have to download the game to your computer and occupy space.
Finally, you have read something about diverse programming languages. You must choose the best for you based on the games you want to create.
4: Choose a game engine:
Choosing your preferred game engine is essential as a developer. And keep in mind that your choice of game engine will determine the programming language you’ll learn. So, before learning how to code, you should learn about the various game engines.
A Handy Tip: Game engines are software that implements video games without developers needing to build from scratch. There are 3D and 2D game engines. There are also 3D game engines with 2D capabilities.
Examples of such engines are Unity and Unreal. Most professional game developers regard it as #1 game engine.
Other game engines:
- CryEngine 3
- Panda 3D
- Fox Engine
- Open 3D engine
- Amazon Lumberyard
- Adventure Game Studio
The list of game engines is long. You must research each engine to understand its capabilities, how it suits the kind of programmer you want to be, and the games you want to develop.
5: Start an online class
Whether you’re looking to create simple mobile games or ones with rich virtual universes, online courses in game development can be a great asset to help you start your journey.
You can learn programming before you kick-start an online course in game development.
Courses in game development will likely teach you the following:
- The techniques for designing a game story
- Game development history
- Game styles and game-play options
- The fundamentals of programming
- Game engine principles
So, you can see that you’ll have the opportunity to learn programming again when you start an online game development program. No knowledge is a waste in programming. So, even if you already have basic programming knowledge, any course to re-introduce you to the fundamentals of programming is good.
6: Build a basic game prototype:
Every game developer who is a beginner wants to start building games like God of War, GTA, and others once they learn how to code. It is good to dream big, but learning about the basics will give your game development career a solid foundation.
So, start developing basic game prototypes. You can begin by building games like puzzles and other platform games.
Through these games, you’ll develop your skills and learn and master the development processes. That is the step you should consider taking.
7: Don’t skip game development events:
Are there game development jams or events taking place around you? If there isn’t, find out where one is happening and partake.
Expert game developers come around during game development jams and create games quickly. So, you’ll learn how to create video games quickly. And this time, not online but physically with the game developer.
8: Solicit feedback for your work:
Highly revered game developers still seek feedback from their fellow developers. They ask their teammates or friends with programming languages to check their codes and give suggestions.
So, it is customary to seek feedback for your newly developed games. Game development is about building, testing, getting feedback, and iteration.
9: Join gaming development communities:
In game development or programming, no one is an island. Even the expert developers are part of a community of interest to them.
So, join a community of developers that is of interest to you. You can join a community dedicated to a programming language you’re learning or a game engine you’re using.
The benefits of joining developer communities are enormous. You’ll learn from others’ mistakes, get advice and tips, and learn new things. You can ask questions whenever you run into trouble and even get feedback for a project you’re working on.
Game Development Career You Should Know
Game development is a massive industry. So, you can learn a lot of things in this industry.
Here are the different careers in game development:
- Game designer
- Level designer
- Game-play engineer
- Game programmer
- QA tester
So, choose which game developer you want to be.
You have read how to learn game development. We started from the basics, which is taking a stand. The journey will be demanding but rewarding in the end.
You need to decide if you want to become a game developer. If your answer is yes, start learning how to code. Choose a programming language of choice and learn it.
You can learn to take online courses in game development. There, you’ll learn the history of game development and more.
So, if you want to become a game developer, follow the steps highlighted here.