Game Developer Kaihanga Tākaro

Game developers write, design, program, animate and test games for computers, gaming consoles, tablets and mobile phones.

Game developers may do some or all of the following:

  • create games based on their own or other people's ideas
  • develop plots and characters
  • produce preliminary storyboards, character biographies, storylines and features
  • write detailed design documentation to explain how the game should look and function
  • write the computer code that creates the game
  • source and add additional graphics, sound effects and digital images
  • animate characters and other content
  • create test versions, and identify and correct any errors.

Most game developers specialise in a particular aspect of game design. 

Physical Requirements

Game developers spend a lot of time using computers and gaming consoles, so they need to know how to use computer equipment properly to avoid occupational overuse syndrome (OOS).

Useful Experience

Useful experience for game developers includes:

  • creating board or online games
  • writing computer code to create games, software or websites
  • art or design work
  • experience recording or editing film
  • playing computer and video games.

Personal Qualities

Game developers need to be:

  • creative and artistic
  • methodical and accurate
  • patient and adaptable
  • able to work well under pressure
  • good at analysis
  • skilled in planning, organising and problem solving
  • good at oral and written communication.


Game developers need to have knowledge of some or all of the following:

  • gaming and game platforms such as computers, gaming consoles, tablets and mobile phones 
  • game design
  • game players' behaviour and psychology
  • computer systems, processes and languages (such as C++, or C#, or Javascript)
  • game engines such as Unity or Unreal
  • video graphic design
  • 2D and 3D art and animation software.


Game developers:

  • work regular business hours
  • work in offices or studios and usually need to meet deadlines.

Game Developers can earn around $60K-$80K per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Game Developer are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for game developers varies depending on experience and skills.

  • Junior game developers with up to three years' experience usually earn between $60,000 and $80,000 a year.
  • Intermediate game developers with three to seven years' experience usually earn between $80,000 and $100,000. 
  • Senior game developers with more than seven years' experience can earn more than $100,000.

Source: New Zealand Game Developers Association, July 2022.

Game developers may progress to set up their own game development or software business, or move into management roles.

Game developers usually work in one of three areas – game programming, game art design or game design. Within these areas, they may specialise in a particular aspect.

Game programmers may specialise in:

  • tools programming – building special sub-programs within a game engine, to help it run better or faster
  • game play programming – developing a game's strategy, logic, mechanics, and feel
  • artificial intelligence (AI) programming – making game characters learn logically and behave like humans

Game art designers may specialise in:

  • 2D and 3D art and animation – creating the illusion of movement and depth of vision
  • art direction – giving overall direction for the visual style and mood of the game

Game designers may specialise in:

  • creating the content, rules and way players interact with a game

 Game developers may also specialise in:

  • digital sound – using computer software to create the game sounds and music
  • physics programming – ensuring game elements and characters follow real-life rules of physics
  • visual effects – adding special effects like explosions or fires
  • testing – playing games to make sure they work properly, or testing the software
  • studio management – overseeing staff and other resources to ensure games are delivered on time and to budget
  • production and development – a management role, making sure tasks are completed, negotiating contracts, hiring staff, and controlling finances.

Years Of Training

2-3 years of training usually required.

To become a game developer it is essential to have experience of video and computer games. 

Game programmers usually need a degree 

To become a game programmer, you usually need a Bachelor's degree in computer science, software development or engineering.

Many university degrees have papers specialising in game programming or interaction design, and opportunities to make a game as a project.

Game artists and designers need to showcase their work 

To become a game artist or designer you need a portfolio of your work or a showreel of games you have built (including online or board games). Some knowledge of programming is also an advantage.

Employers may also prefer you to have a degree or diploma in:

  • 2D or 3D animation
  • media design
  • game art and development.
Game Developer