Also, if you want to know what are the other fields in the video game industry, check out the other parts of our game dev roles compendium:

(And while we're talking about game programming career... Check out our current game programmer jobs)

Table of contents:

  1. Technical Director role
  2. Gameplay Programmer role
  3. Backend / Server / Online Programmer role
  4. AI Programmer role
  5. Graphics Programmer role
  6. UI Programmer role
  7. Animation Programmer role
  8. Physics Programmer role
  9. VFX Programmer role
  10. Audio Programmer role
  11. Tools Programmer role
  12. Engine-Specific Game Programmer Jobs
  13. Language-Specific Game Programmer Jobs
  14. Seniority levels in the game programming jobs


Technical Director role in the video game development

technical director in game development - what I do meme

These guys are calling all the shots when it comes to any decision-making regarding technical aspects of the game. They're picking all the tools, engine, tech stack. High level. They also are in charge of planning out the whole project and managing the programmers. They're rarely coding stuff.

Gameplay Programmer role in the game industry

If you need one sentence to explain what this role is for, then here it is: They're building the game. Period.

Gameplay Programmers work closely with game designers and the art team. Their job is to build all gameplay mechanics according to the game design. It's crucial to be an avid gamer while working as a gameplay programmer. This gamer's perspective helps a lot in understanding how things should work in the final video game.

Backend / Server / Online Programmer role in gamedev

Game Programmer jobs: backend developer meme

The masters of servers. They're present in the development of every multiplayer game (or any game that has online features, to be precise).

Their role is to make sure that the game can handle all the players who would like to play a game (crucial in multiplayer titles).

So besides the connection, it's also the way that players can communicate with each other. They also are responsible for creating a stable and secure environment for the players to enjoy. (That includes anti-cheat systems and bandwidth management).

AI Programmer role in the video game development

All NPC's (non-playable characters), enemies, creatures need to act in a specific way to make players believe that the game world is as alive as it gets. And AI Programmers, along with the Game Designers, work on making that happen.

AI Programmers script actual encounters. For example, how they should work, what triggers them etc.

Whether it's the way the enemy behaves on a battlefield or if two NPC's decide to chat with each other, so the player's character will hear through the dialogue what his objective is. You get the drill, right? 

Graphics Programmer role in the game industry

Also known as Rendering Programmer. Specialists in this position have one job: to ensure that whatever the art team comes up with needs to be displayed beautifully in the final video game. And run smoothly as silk. So it's not only implementing the latest tech but also constant tech optimization. 

UI Programmer role in gamedev

This role works close to UI Designers and UI Artists. Once art and design departments come with a clear and readable User Interface design, UI Programmers' job is to create necessary tools and functionalities to implement it correctly. So every piece of the menu, HUD, or game bar that shares with you any data in-game is a child of these 3 roles. 

Animation Programmer role in the video game development

They work closely with animators.

They create necessary tools and functionalities that support the animation team. So if it's related to the movement of characters and creatures - yup, Animation Programmers meddled with it. ;) 

Physics Programmer role in the video game industry

This role takes head-on any issues related to how the physics in-game works. (That means all the collisions, movement of stuff). Physics Programmer usually works on a Game Engine development and implements all changes and features in it.

VFX Programmer role in gamedev

game programmer jobs - meme

It won't be a surprise if I say that VFX Programmer supports VFX Artists. And their combined effort lets us enjoy all visual marvels on the screen. Fogs, explosions, fires, magical auras.

They implement the stuff into the game, control what triggers all these splendid particles and visual effects to show, and optimize the hell out of it.

Audio Programmer role in the video game development

They create the tools and systems in the game engine to implement music, dialogues, sound effects. Everything related to the Audio in-game. As you can imagine - they tend to co-op with the Sound Designers.

Tools Programmer role in the video game industry

If the Artists or Designers need a tool that might save them some time and daily struggle, Tools Programmer is here. These software engineering folks are implementing various tools that can solve the problems and speed up the work for the Design and Art team.

Engine-Specific Game Programmer Jobs in gamedev

While looking through the various job ads, you'll often see game studios mention a specific Game Engine in the job description (eg. UE4 game programmer). It's all related to the tech they're using with the development.

So if you see a job that says "Unity Programmer" or "Unreal Engine 5 Programmer," you should know that the position requires you to be proficient in either Unity Game Engine or Unreal Engine 5.

Language-Specific Game Programmer Jobs in the game development

Some positions might go as "Lead Programmer C++" or "Python Developer." These specific roles require knowledge of this particular programming language.

Seniority levels in the game programming jobs

Lead Programmer role in the game industry

Lead Programmer manages other programmers. It can be either a whole team or a specific role lead (like Lead Gameplay Programmer).

Lead Programmers write code, but besides that, they're also involved in the project planning and task management aspect. They also tend to mentor other programmers.

Senior Programmer role in the game industry

Experienced Programmers who work on a specific part of the game or tech. Senior positions are given more freedom to what they work on. They don't need as much supervision as Programmers with the lesser seniority level.

Junior Programmer role in the game industry

Juniors are given the simplest task to support the work of other programmers (and to take a load of more mundane and basic tasks from them). However, they need guidance and mentorship to progress their career and become full-fledged Regular level Programmers.

This concludes the Programing part of our gamedev career guide.

Stay tuned for the next entry.

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