Can a Software Engineer Become a Game Developer?

Being a Software Engineer in today’s world is a safe career path. There is a huge market out there and it is relatively easy to find a stable job. In addition, the pay is usually pretty good. Next to that, since the pandemic, most companies will allow you to work from home some days a week. However, perhaps you always dreamed about developing games, and now you want to turn that dream into a reality. So what does a Software Engineer have to do to become a Game Developer?

Can a Software Engineer Become a Game Developer?

The short answer is: Yes, it should be possible for every Software Engineer to become a Game Developer. Especially if they put in the effort. However, it is important to note that being a Game Developer is not all about engineering software. As a Game Developer, your goal is to create an immersive experience with a sense of fun and challenge. Building a game requires the mastery of many disciplines that you won’t learn while being a Software Engineer. This is especially true if you’re thinking about doing indie game development where you won’t be solely focusing on technical topics alone.

Why a Software Engineer Would Be a Good Game Developer

As an Software Engineer, you don’t only think about the code. You also consider the software architecture, the target hardware and you are not unfamiliar with using algorithms. If your goal is to develop games, you’ll find that the Software Engineering skills you have now translate really well into Game Development. This is because games are very complex pieces of software that require knowledge of software architecture. Next to that, games make heavy use of many different algorithms for all of their internal systems. Lastly, a game often needs to comply with performance standards on a chosen target platform.

Should a Software Engineer Become A Game Developer?

Many people may have an overly romantic view of Game Development. Yet, the reality is that Game Development can be brutal, exhausting and highly competitive. Because the field is so competitive, it can be hard to find an available job with suitable payment. If you are thinking of joining a studio, you will find that you need prior experience developing games to be taken seriously. Actually, it would be best to join a small indie studio where you will gain experience. However, the pay will be low compared to Software Engineering standards. Also, joining a small studio usually does not guarantee long term job security as its survival depends on whether the published games are successful or not. However, if being a Game Developer really is your passion, then all of the negative things mentioned shouldn’t really bother you.

What is the Difference Between a Software Engineer and a Game Developer?

The main difference between a Software Engineer and a Game Developer is the goal you are working towards. As mentioned before, the goal of a game is to create an immersive experience with a sense of fun and challenge. It’s easy to understand that developing a game is all about creating good user experience. Yet, the problem is that there are no absolute truths or rules that will make a game fun. As a result, you will learn that you cannot perform any objective research or tests to figure out what the game is like.

Where a Software Engineer will try to solve a problem objectively, a Game Developer will continue to solve a subjective problem. Together with the team, a Game Developer will continue to try making the game as fun as it can be, even if that means rebuilding some part of the game. Clearly, a game is not something that can be easily planned out in advance.

What Should a Software Engineer Learn to Start with Game Development?

To start with Game Development, we recommend a Software Engineer to start building games to gather experience. Also, in case you want to apply for a job at a studio, we recommend you to develop games to start building up a portfolio. If you are about to start building your first game, we urge you to read our tips on developing your first game. Next to that, we recommend you to do the following:

Study Math for Game Development

The world of Game Development is filled with math. Any Game Developer should have knowledge of Geometry, Vector, Matrix and Quaternion math. These fields form the foundation of how graphics are rendered and how objects are manipulated in 3D space.

Follow a Game Development Course

These days, it’s easy to follow an online course on a variety of subjects. Therefore, we recommend you to follow courses that focus on Game Development. These courses have everything you need to get started in Game Development. Also, they will teach you a variety of skills from programming, to design and art.

Learn Game Architecture

Next, as a Software Engineer, you should already be familiar with the concepts behind Software Architecture. Of course, it should come to no surprise to you that there are many architecture patterns that are specifically used by Game Developers. Learning about these patterns will help you build better games and recognize these patterns in existing codebases.

Study Game Design

In order to build good game systems, you will need to have knowledge about game design. As a Game Developer, it is your job to translate the design specifications into functional systems. By learning about Game Design, it will be easier to do the translation and incorporate future additions. If you are thinking about designing your own game, then we cannot stress enough how important it is to study Game Design in detail.

Understand The Graphics Pipeline

Since games are a visual medium, it is obvious that you should learn how these visuals are made and rendered to the screen. Extensive knowledge of the Graphics Pipeline will help you make games look more interesting and unique. A game development team will always want to make their game have a unique look or have a style based on an existing game. As a Game Developer, you will have to find ways to implement that style together with the rest of your team.

Try 3D Modelling

Similar to Game Design, you will need to have knowledge about 3D Modelling as well. This does not mean that you will spend most of your modelling. Instead, knowing how models are comprised of hierarchies, animations, materials etc. will help you build better interactive experiences.

Join Game Development Communities

By joining Game Development Communities, you will be able to connect with other Game Developers to share insights, get up to speed with the latest developments and potential job openings. Often, communities will organize a Game Jam where participants of the community will build a game together for fun. This can be a beneficial experience as you will learn many new aspects of Game Development.

What if Becoming a Game Developer Does Not Work Out?

Perhaps you have already tried becoming a Game Developer and it did not work out. You may have build several games that no one wants to play. Or perhaps you just can’t seem to find that studio job that you are looking for. If that is the case, we would still encourage you to keep developing yourself and keep trying. The moment you stop perusing your dream is the moment you can’t realize it. If this is really something that you are passionate about you should keep investing in it.


To conclude, we hope we have now given you a better picture about realizing your Game Development dreams. Especially if you are a Software Engineer, you should have no problem building games, yet it will require you to invest some energy into learning the required skills. If you are truly passionate about this, we encourage you to try it out. Please, don’t stop if things don’t work out immediately. Keep trying and improving yourself.

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