7 min read
#Development Tips
#Game Programming

What If You Don’t Want To Be A Lead? What else is there for you? – Career development guide for game developers

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Who needs a career path in the gaming industry?

Who is this article for?

Short answer: It’s for everyone who considers working in gamedev.

But if you’re more of a regular level (meaning: you know the ropes and have a basic understanding of what you are good at and your strong and weak points), I guess you can make the most out of the knowledge we’re spilling here.

What are the career paths in the game industry?

If you would like to know specific career paths in game dev – we’ve prepared a series of thorough guides explaining nearly all roles in game dev. Take a look!

Guide to the game development job roles

But also, what you need to be aware of is that each of these roles divides into seniority levels. So you usually start as a junior, then become a regular, and then a senior.

And usually, people think that this is it that this is what careers in gaming have to offer, and beyond that, all it’s left is a Leadership Position. But is it?

Do you really need to become a Lead Game Developer?

Let’s take these questions one by one and one step further & see what we’ll find out.

What is a leadership role in game development?

If you are to pursue a leadership path, it is important to know that it doesn’t matter in which game job family you are. Your responsibilities will be the same, no matter if we talk about design, art, or programming.

What does a Lead in Game Development do?

The responsibilities of a lead can be split into two main parts: leadership and management.

Leadership responsibilities of a Lead:

  • Working with team members to help them grow individually
  • Working with team members to help them grow their team as a unified whole
  • Setting objectives to achieve with the team
  • Following up and evaluating those objectives
  • Empower team members to achieve those objectives
  • Motivate and be supportive
  • Plan right gaming industry career paths with the team members for them to increase their creativity and technical expertise as well as their soft skills and develop their autonomy

Management responsibilities of a Lead:

  • Planning and organizing the workload of a team *but try not to become a micro-managing-pain-you-know-where ;)*
  • Follow-ups on the work of the team
  • Communicate decisions (even unpopular ones)

What skills/traits does a Lead need to thrive in this position?

  • Communication skills
  • Know how to listen
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Be inspirational / know how to motivate your team
  • Be trustworthy
  • Learn how to delegate work
  • Be responsible
  • Great Time Management skills

Climb a seniority ladder in your gaming career path and become an Expert Game Developer

But what if you don’t want to be a leader? What if you don’t want to be involved in leadership and managing others? Besides the Leadership path, you have the second option to develop your career path in gamedev, which means pursuing the seniority level.

What are the seniority levels in game development?

  • Junior Game Developer – You need to learn the role. You usually have a mentor, and all you do need is supervision (and proper feedback, so you have a chance to grow)
  • Regular Game Developer – You have more freedom in making decisions.
  • Senior Game Developer – You’re visibly more experienced than other development team members, which means you’ve been given more responsibilities and much more freedom in fulfilling your tasks.
  • Expert Game Developer – This is someone with a profound level of knowledge in the specific game dev field. An authority.

What are the other possible ways to grow professionally in game development?

You can still expand on your competencies. And learn from the adjacents’ roles. For example – if you’re a proficient Game designer, maybe you would like to learn Level Design? If you’re a 3D artist – perhaps learning a bit about animation would be interesting for you as well?

Countless combinations.

But let’s now go into detail…

What are the career paths in the gaming industry for Programmers?

You can enter the fantastic & fascinating gaming world by having a junior position at the beginning. From there, with the correct attitude and while your technical skills are growing and you become more and more autonomous, you’ll reach a programmer position which is the equivalent of a regular/intermediate level.

And from this level is where the magic happens → you can pursue a traditional career path, which means aiming for seniority, or choosing to go for a leadership position.

If you want to pursue the leadership route, you should mentor the less experienced. In addition, exceptional communication skills are needed.

Now, what does achieving the expert level of seniority mean?

Constant innovation in the game code requires pursuing new ways of solving problems. Or innovation. Duh.

Making you an Expert Programmer. [Of course, you still need some soft skills, like communication & collaboration skills]

Also, you can make a lateral move. For example, if you are a gameplay programmer but found out that you are more interested in online services, you can move towards online programming.

What are the career paths in the game industry for Game Designers?

Game Designers usually start with the idea of the perfect game they would like to play themselves. And then we have a reality check 😉

No, but srsly…

It’s not uncommon to shift from other gamedev positions like QA tester (quality assurance).

So if you’re a QA who would like to change the landscape – we’ve heard some inspirational success stories about successful transitions toward video Game Design.

So how a Game Design path looks like? Ofc you’re starting as a Junior, and while you’re climbing the seniority level (and getting to know stuff), you’re about to choose between a Leadership role or Earning more XP points in Game Design.

If you choose the first path – you usually need to nurture and mentor other game designers. And if you’re eager to become a high-level Game Designer – you can become an Expert Game Designer.

Suppose you would like to pursue a Game Director role. In that case, you should consider growing into Leadership positions, as someone in this field needs to swiftly combine the expertise of a game designer with all required skills expected from a lead.

What are the career paths in the video game industry for Game Artists?

If you’re willing to pursue the path of a game artist, you probably grew up with a dream of making the most beautiful characters or creating the most vivid worlds. And now you’re here starting as a junior artist and looking to learn new things.

Usually, as a junior, you’ll learn what graphics assets are needed during the game production, and you’ll get to know what kind of quality the studio you’re working in is aiming for.

Now while you climb your way to the average level, you’ll see that your style has evolved and that the assets you’re producing are of much better quality. What comes in pair with it is that your work has sped up.

You can then determine whether you would like to take care of the new batch of aspiring artists (like you from the past ;)) or maybe you would like to become an expert in your field.

Note that positions like Art Director are strictly leadership roles. So if you aspire to become one in the future, you need to have a Lead’s set of skills + be very competent in terms of the art.

We hope that now you see many game job possibilities that are open for you. With a growth mindset and proper guidance, you’re gonna achieve much in the video game industry. (We hope so, we need new and cool stuff to play as well ;))

If you have any questions, though. Or would like to chat with our recruiters – drop us a comment a note via our social media channels. We would love to hear from you!