A glossary of gaming gigs

Maru Media
With no experience in any area of gaming (except as a player), Maru Nihoniho kickstarted her own successful company. Image: Maru Media

For a lot of keen coders, getting into the gaming industry is the ultimate. Here’s how to press ‘start’ on your pathway.

If your STEM + X = programming + your PS4, there are loads of opportunities in the industry that can lead you to future-focused roles in design, development, production and IT.

And the best bit? Tertiary trajectories don’t all necessarily have to look the same! Universities, TAFEs and private colleges all offer up exciting post-Year 12 options.

Here, we list some of the jobs in computer science (CS) + gaming so that you can widen your job/study searches.

What jobs are there in gaming?

A is for animator

Using specialised software, animators literally bring a game to life – creating the visuals, characters and even a product’s packaging!

RELATED: Creative maths gigs

B is for backend developer

Backend developers maintain all the behind-the-scenes processes of game development. On their daily to-do lists? Maintaining core data bases, writing new features, debugging systems and ensuring that whatever is requested from the front end can be delivered through the back.

C is for community manager

As a relatively new gig in gaming, community managers nurture the community within a game – updating them on news and managing socials – whilst also servicing the marketing team by collecting and sorting invaluable data.

D is for developer

These guys are responsible for programming all the key aspects of a game – think: visuals, animation, and sound.

E is for engineer (audio)

Most audio engineers have a degree in sound engineering, and secret maths and physics smarts. They’re primarily concerned with producing voiceovers, music and sound effects.

F is for first person shooter (FPS) level designer

There are loads of design jobs in gaming, and many are super-specialised. These guys work in the visuals and playability of first person shooters – one’s where player’s see the world from the lead character’s perspective.

G is for game designer

Coming up with fresh creative concepts is all in a day’s work for a game designer, who develops the creative aspects of a product – storylines, characters and visuals – and guides them through production.

H is for hardware engineering manager

Looking after a company’s hardware engineering activities is the hardware engineering manager’s jam. A strong interest – and talent – in tech is essential as it’s basically like hanging out with awesome gear – and consoles – all day.

I is for IT support

IT professionals keep internal systems working – essential in an industry that relies on so much complex software.

RELATED: Gaming no longer a boys’ club

J is for junior position

Kickstart your gaming career with an internship while you’re still studying! There are loads of junior design, programming and tech support roles in the industry and any experience is a serious plus.

K is for er, keyboard designer?!

Confession: K was hard. But someone had to come up with the keyboard design that you smash all your PC games on, right?

 L is for lead programmer

Pretty much a regular programmer (see P), but with loads more responsibility! These guys head up their team, and are big deal players within a business.

M is for multimedia artist

Creative STEM job alert! Multimedia artists dream up, design and create the graphics and animations for a game using art + computer science skills.

N is for network programmer

A computer science or engineering degree is generally a prerequisite for this skilled programming position, which involves writing the code that  allows players to compete against each other and utilise multi-player functions.

O is for online AI programmer

AI programmers create code and algorithms for in-game pathfinding, group movement, tactical strategy and camera control.

P is for programmer

Programmers work with a designer’s brief and write the code that ensures a game – and its characters – are playable and controllable!

In his current role as a programmer with a small independent games studio, called Mountain Studio, Sam Crisp is creating tools using code that help the team’s artists and designers import their work into the bigger game framework.

Q is for quality assurance tester

Yep, playing video games all day is actually a job! Testers ensure a product is error-free by literally playing it – and noting any coding or tech problems.

R is for rendering programmer

Looking into rendering roles? Duties include collaborating with technical leads on design, core tech and feature roll out and the development of engineering systems across a game’s entire code base. Sounds simple, right? These guys are usually pretty senior!

S is for software developer

Software developers head up the execution of a product and bring a designer’s vision to life! Essentially they’re concerned with creating the software that makes a video game run the way the creative team intended.

T is for technical support specialist

Like in any industry, tech support is essential in solidifying a relationship between a customer and a business. In gaming, they staff call centres and help out with any operating, system or equipment-related problems.

U is for user experience (UX) designer

UX designers focus on immersing a user into the inner world of a game through simple, slick and functional gameplay and an easy-to-navigate interface. They work with designers and programmers to ensure everything plays, shoots, runs and jumps as it should!

V is for virtual reality application designer

Virtual reality designers use VR capabilities to enhance a user’s experience – heightening a games sense of realism through some seriously sophisticated tech.  A solid understanding of augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, haptic technologies, human-computer interaction and prototyping are all pretty standard prerequisites.

W is for web developer

Pre-launch, web developer’s create a solid online presence for a game, which means speaking code and designing a functional website from scratch.

X is for Xbox creator

This was totally someone’s job… 17 years ago.

Y is for yet to exist

The way the industry is evolving, current gaming graduates could be killing it in careers that don’t even exist yet. Exciting, right?!

Z is for Zumba Fitness game developer

Yes, this is legit.

What can I study to get into gaming?

For a start, look into:

>>  Bachelor of game design, Griffith University

>> Bachelor of design (games), RMIT

>> Games design and development, Macquarie University

>> Diploma of games development, SAE

>> Diploma of digital and interactive games, TAFE NSW

>> Bachelor of games and interactive design, TAFE Queensland

Keen to suss some inspiring STEM + gaming pathways? Maru Nihoniho‘s career is total goals. 

Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

As Refraction’s digital editor, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.


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