Video-Game Programmer: Making a Passion Profitable

Video games are, by definition, fun. They’ve been a flashy, alluring pastime for the nearly four decades of their existence. For the lucky few, however, video games have become a job. These guys are game programmers, and industry demand for them is swelling.

According to a recent Variety article, the video game sector was up 13 percent in January, tipping the scales at $1.3 billion. Software sales themselves were up 10 percent.

“When I started out making PC games for my first job, we were on three- or four-person teams, and the whole team making the game — the designers, art and everything — was like 10 people,” said Noel Llopis, an independent game programmer. “By the time I’d done my last game at High Moon, which was the ‘Bourne Identity’ game for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, we had a team of almost 200 people. So it really changed a lot in 10 years.”

Paid for Their Passion

For most students, video games are a distraction from studies. For a fledgling professional video-game programmer, the situation is somewhat the opposite. A programmer needs a solid grasp of C++, the main programming language for game development, as well as fairly high-level math skills, Llopis said.

“They need a good grasp of linear algebra because computer games are all about linear algebra — matrices, vectors, rotations and translations and all that — and really good grasp of basic algorithms — being comfortable with things like sorting, trees and data structures,”…


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