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  • So You Want To Be A Game Programmer?

    - Marc Mencher
  • Game artists create wondrous landscapes and bizarre characters; game designers write the documents that plot how the game will play. But without programming code, all there'd be in a game would be pretty pictures and a bunch of words. Game programmers -- also known as software engineers -- create the code that makes the game work.

    Of all the programming disciplines, coding for games may be one of the most difficult -- and challenging. That's because of the many different programming disciplines and skills that a game programmer must have under his or her belt -- graphics, animation, collision detection, networking, physics, database, GUI (Graphical User Interface), audio, input, and more. But, as difficult as game programming may be, it's also the programming discipline that's the most rewarding. Imagine what it must feel like to be able to go down to GameStop and see your game up there on the shelf!

    At its most basic level, a programmer's job is to translate a solution to a problem into a language that a computer can understand. This ability, of course, is not enough. To have a successful career in the game industry, you must be able to write or “cut” code that is efficient, fast, and reusable. That code must be flexible … and so must the programmer. Frequently you will be expected to complete a task or create new technology in an area that is unfamiliar to you. This will also take place in a production environment, which means that not only will you be learning, but you will also be learning under a deadline. An additional positive aspect of the job is that you will rarely find yourself bored. Every new project promises exploration into new and uncharted territories. You can expect to find the same programmer working on a game engine in one project, building tools in another, and developing a game's core logic routines in yet another. And, above all else, game programmers must be absolutely passionate about making games and solving problems no one has seen or even thought of before.


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