Game developer

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Game developers (also known as game developers ) are people or companies that are involved in the development of computer games . They stand in contrast to game designers , so those games design. Companies that develop computer games are also called development studios.

Game developers (people)

Fields of work

The term game industry is often used in the computer game press . In fact, the field of professional game development is now characterized by many features of industrialization such as product manufacture for the mass market, a strong process orientation and a high degree of specialization of the people and work units involved. Only in niche areas and in technical innovation areas is it still common today for individuals to be able to cover the entire process of game development at all.

Today there are typically several areas of responsibility. Depending on the size of the development studio, individual people can also cover two or more of these areas of responsibility at the same time. The post of producer and game designer are often taken on by one person.


Producers take care of the organizational and financial issues of a project. As in the film industry or in the music industry, they are usually the representatives of a financier and have a direct influence on game design when making critical decisions. They also control compliance with contractual agreements and organizational production processes (e.g. by setting milestones ) and organize the game publication via the publisher , to whom they are responsible for adhering to the agreed publication date.

game designer

Game designers define the game content, the game principle and the feel of the game. They also usually get the most media attention. Internationally known game designers include Shigeru Miyamoto , Todd Howard , Hideo Kojima , Peter Molyneux , Sid Meier , Tetsuya Nomura and Roberta Williams . Well-known game designers from Germany are z. B. Cevat Yerli , Gerald Köhler and Daniel Dumont .


Programmers implement the computer game using specially developed or purchased game engines ( game engineering ). Most computer games use C ++ as the programming language . More and more simpler script languages (e.g. Lua and Python ) are used in higher-level projects . This has the advantage that the game mechanics can be modified without restarting the program. So you don't have to understand the complex structure of the entire game, which means that level designers or game designers can have a direct influence on the game mechanics. Another main task of the programmer is the development of tools , plug-ins and other programs that are required for the development or operation of the game. Examples include: B. Level / map editors, exporters for animation software, puzzle editors, etc.

A subgroup of game programmers are graphics programmers who develop the graphics engine or, in the case of license use, adapt it to the circumstances of their own project. Graphics programming is based (especially in the field of 3D graphics) on highly specialized mathematical models and algorithms and therefore requires specific specialist knowledge on the part of the programmer. Well-known programmers are for example John Carmack , Tim Sweeney and Manfred Trenz .

Graphic artist

Graphic artists , also known as artists, take care of the graphic content that is to be presented by the engine. In 3D games, the modellers make up a large part of the graphic design when developing a game. Using modeling programs, you create three-dimensional objects that take on the roles of characters or other objects in the game through animation. In addition, the modellers model all individual objects such as B. the weapons or other equipment. Modellers specialize in certain aspects of their area of ​​responsibility, such as B. the modeling of humans or animals, the animation or the modeling of static, inanimate objects. Graphic artists have a great influence on the graphic quality and the atmosphere of a game, but have little influence on the game mechanics. Dave Gibbons painted the backgrounds of the adventure classics Beneath a Steel Sky and Lure of the Temptress .

Level designer

Level designers create the so-called levels , i.e. the environments and architectures of the game world. Her work is not limited to the geometric design, but also includes the lighting and soundscape of the virtual environment. They can therefore best be compared with architects and set designers . They use level editors in their work . Level designers directly shape the game mechanics through their work. It is not uncommon for the levels to include not only landscapes or architectures, but also predefined events or behavior of the opponents (so-called script sequences ). Simple script languages ​​are used to define this data (see above). A well-known level designer is Richard "Levelord" Gray .


Composers write the pieces of music. These usually create the pieces of music so that the music matches the mood of the game situation.

The computer game musician Chris Hülsbeck achieved cult status with his work in the early 1990s . In Japan, computer game composers such as Nobuo Uematsu and Koji Kondo are very popular and highly regarded. Michael Land is known in Europe and the US for the theme music from Monkey Island . Today there are also recognized film composers such as Harry Gregson-Williams , John Williams and Hans Zimmer who set computer games to music.

With the advances in the technology of computers and game consoles, the possibilities for composing computer game music have become more diverse. Game music developed from digitally synthesized to music played by real musicians. This also shaped the work and the working environment of the composers, who initially had to deal with the very limited technical possibilities and were then able to compose increasingly complex pieces of music, some of which were also recorded with entire orchestras.

Sound designer

Sound designers create the soundscape and all the noises of characters, weapons or vehicles. To do this, they use real models (e.g. realistic war shooters and car racing games ) or design the noises themselves (e.g. starting a spaceship, the utterance of a monster or opening a magic chest).


Authors , depending on the genre, have only gained increasing importance in recent years. Only now are background stories and realistic character representations perceived as increasingly important. Accordingly, professional writers, story writers and dialogue writers are increasingly being used. A well-known writer who provided the background for several very successful game series is Tom Clancy . Ua was also Marc Laidlaw , the writer who for Half-Life and Half-Life 2 provided the back story, known only through these games as an author. Online games in particular (e.g. MMORPGs ) are increasingly relying on their own teams of authors who write the tasks and dialogues for the games. Due to the large number of players in a world, it is becoming more and more important that game stories are absolutely seamless so that the game logic (in terms of the game background and the storylines) does not shift in the course of the game.

Play tester

Player testers test computer games. Even small programming or design errors can change the game balance of computer games or cause the software to crash. It is therefore important that games are tested. The first tests are already taking place in the alpha version. In the beta test , an attempt is then made to make the product publishable. Many manufacturers now also offer open or closed betas online for players. Some manufacturers also rely on the early access model, in which the game is marketed before it is actually released.

Translator and localization

AAA games are mostly translated by translators into the languages ​​of the countries of sale. These include the texts in the game, but also voice output, which are often set to music by voice actors. The game may also have to be adapted to the cultural and legal situation of the country in order to be allowed and understood. This applies, for example, to the removal of explicit depictions of blood due to the protection of minors or the removal of unconstitutional symbols. This also includes technical aspects such as the adaptation to input devices or differences between PAL and NTSC .

Qualification and training

In the games industry, team sizes have grown steadily since the 1980s and 1990s. The typical "educational path" for entering the games industry in Germany during this time, due to the lack of special training and study paths, has almost always led to a long-term hobby discussion of the topic and a subsequent direct application to an already established games manufacturer.

Since the 1990s, in addition to this fundamental interest and willingness to learn self-taught, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of skilled workers and academics (especially among computer scientists and graphic designers ), which is partly due to the greatly increased range of training and study courses in these areas, but can also be attributed to the growing international competitive pressure, which makes the use of highly qualified employees inevitable.

Since the turn of the millennium, as part of a further specialization, there has been an increasing range of courses and technical schools in Germany that are specifically geared to the requirements of the games industry.

In 2000, the Games Academy, the first European special school for the games industry, was founded in Germany. At the same time, the "L-4" educational institute also started training 3D game designers in Berlin .

Since 2005 the Qantm Institute - subsidiary of the SAE INSTITUTES - has been offering its "Diploma of Interactive Entertainment" with the subjects "Game Art & 3D Animation" and "Game Programming". In the meantime, the QANTM Institute also offers the Bachelor of Arts (BA Interactive Animation) and Bachelor of Science (BSc Games Programming) degrees accredited by the renowned Middlesex University of London. This means that you can obtain an internationally recognized degree at the QANTM Institute in 24 months.

The SRH Fachschulen GmbH in Heidelberg has been offering a two-year training course to become a “state-recognized computer scientist for game and multimedia development” since 2006. During the training, the three main areas of conception, design and development are taught in a practical and project-oriented manner.

Since the beginning of 2006 there has been Axel Hoppe, the first professor for game design at a German university ( Mediadesign Hochschule ).

The private SRH Hochschule Heidelberg (not to be confused with SRH Fachschulen GmbH) has been offering the “Game Development” course in the IT department since October 2007. The state-recognized and accredited three-year intensive course concludes with a "Bachelor of Science" with 210 credit points recognized throughout Europe. The SRH University Heidelberg and the computer game company GameForge AG each offer three highly gifted scholarships for this course of study each year.

Since October 2008, the Trier University of Applied Sciences has been offering a computer science and a design course for game development.

Since October 2008, the bib International College has been offering training as a media computer scientist in game development. In addition to basic knowledge of computer science, the training also provides the skills required for graphics and game programming. The training also does justice to the steadily growing mobile and online games area. In October 2011, the media designer Game & Animation started an apprenticeship for the first time, in which the focus is not on the programming of games, but in addition to graphic animations in 2D and 3D, also game design. After the two-year training, a one-year bachelor's degree can optionally be added. Also in October 2011, the new course in Computer Science: Games Engineering at the Technical University of Munich, which, in addition to an almost full computer science course, covers important areas of game development, such as game engine design or artificial intelligence. This course can also be attended at the university in Kempten.

The Harz University of Applied Sciences in Wernigerode has been offering the MA media and game conception master’s course since October 2015, which conveys competencies in production aspects such as game design, game art, sound and programming through various specialization modules and practical projects with intensive coaching. Subject areas such as game history, game analysis and ludology promote critical skills and provide the necessary theoretical and conceptual basis for practical work.

The Cologne Game Lab of the TH Köln offers both a bachelor's degree (BA Digital Games with the majors Game Arts, Game Design and Game Programming) and three master’s courses (MA Digital Games, MA Game Development and Research, MA 3D Animation for Film and Games ) on. All courses are taught in English. The students of the CGL come from more than 30 countries.

After private schools and universities in Germany initially devoted themselves to the training of game developers, students can now choose from a variety of offers from private and state universities, which also set different technical accents.

Game developers (companies / developer studios)

Developer studios are companies that develop computer or video games . A development studio is usually the workplace of a game developer (person). In order to be able to develop games successfully, you usually need at least one, rather several developers for each of the above-mentioned fields of work. It is not uncommon for around 50-100 developers to work on complex games, not counting the orchestra, however.

One differentiates the developer studios mostly by who they develop the games for. There are studios that were founded by a game console manufacturer or were bought in and therefore only develop for a certain manufacturer, or studios that are independent but only develop for one manufacturer, or studios that are independent and do not develop and sell a specific game console have prescribed. But even those can develop for another company, which does not produce its own game consoles, but only sells the games.

While this division is common in the development of video games for game consoles, this division does not exist in the field of computer games. The computer represents a free system for which anyone can develop and sell games without restrictions.

First party

First-party developers (German: main developer or first developer ) are developer studios that belong to a console manufacturer and develop exclusively for them. This also includes in-house studios that were founded directly by a console manufacturer. An example of this is Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development , which is operated by Nintendo Co. Ltd. was founded and exists as a separate company and is therefore exclusively owned and developed exclusively for Nintendo. The studio does not have to bear the name of the company (like here from Nintendo), but can have another, independent name (e.g. Naughty Dog , Sony). This is normally the case with externally founded studios that were only bought up later. The games are usually published under the name of the parent company.

Second party

The term second-party developer is a non-existent term that is mistakenly used for development studios that, although not owned by a game console manufacturer, are developed exclusively for these games. They are therefore third-party developers who only develop for one platform. Usually a contract that secures the exclusive rights or close business relationships are the reason for this. The term comes mainly from the Nintendo area and is rarely used on fan sites.

Examples of this type of developer are for example Insomniac Games , which only developed for Sony's PlayStation consoles. Also Gamefreak that the very successful series of games Pokémon have developed on Nintendo's systems are "only" exclusively developing third-party developers. Since this type is financially very risky for the developer, there are few of these developers. The reasons for the financial risks are the limited community of players to whom the game can be sold, since it is only being developed for one game console. In the event of failure, i.e. games that are not sold enough, the developer studio is also not financially secured by a large parent company and is therefore more dependent on the success of each individual game.

Third party

A third-party developer (usually referred to as a third-party provider or third -party manufacturer in German-speaking countries ) is any studio that develops and produces games, provided it is not a first-party or second-party developer. Examples of third-party developers are service providers such as Intulo, which define assets as commissioned work for various titles. This part is closely related to the topic of outsourcing .

Hardware manufacturers who produce additional hardware for consoles are also referred to as third parties. It is not uncommon for several third-party developers to merge or for larger studios to buy smaller ones, which then together form a large company. These can have a higher game development rate, with higher sales, than the console manufacturers themselves. An example of this is the company Electronic Arts .

Overview of the current situation

Notes: The list does not (currently) claim to be complete, but tries to come as close as possible to it. The information in the list is a summary of other Wikipedia articles and has therefore not been given additional sources.

The individual departments within Nintendo EAD all have their own areas of responsibility for specific game series, for which they are responsible and develop independently and are therefore classified as separate studios.

Sony Computer Entertainment (now Sony Interactive Entertainment ) has many formerly independent studios such as B. Millennium Interactive not only bought up, but also integrated into its own developer structure and renamed and therefore listed as internal studios.

Console manufacturer First party internally First party external exclusive third party

United States


United States


Microsoft logo (2012) .svg

United States



Sony logo.svg

Sony Interactive Entertainment America (SIEA)

Japan belong to SIEI

USA belong to SIEA

Europe belong to SIEE

Special types of developer studios

Indie game developer

Independent game developers are game developers who typically develop smaller computer games , so-called indie games , as they normally work without financial support and are dependent on other companies / publishers . Usually there are only individuals or smaller interest groups behind the games, sometimes even larger groups of game enthusiasts via crowdfunding (e.g. via the Kickstarter platform). The indie games mostly rely on innovative game concepts that are risky in terms of marketing, an approach that is more likely to be avoided in larger, publisher-financed games. Indie developers can therefore also be seen as a reaction to the trends in casual games and the "streamlining" of games forced by publishers for better marketability to the broadest possible customer base . In order to keep the cost price and thus the financial risk for the small developer as low as possible, the developers mostly rely on digital distribution, the sale via online platforms on the Internet through downloads ( digital distribution ) in which the physical distribution costs are eliminated. The number of indie developers, together with indie games, only rose sharply at the end of the first decade of the 21st century due to the increasingly diverse possibilities of digital distribution, such as B. through Steam or the Humble Indie Bundle . While indie games have their origins in the computer sector due to the open development platform, this market only became accessible to developers in the game console sector much later. For example, the game console manufacturer Microsoft opened its own market with its online platform Xbox Live in 2005 by making an extra software tool available to developers. Some indie development studios have already developed commercially very successful games, such as: B. the game Minecraft .

Browser game developer

These developers have mostly specialized in the development of browser games, i.e. games that are played in the web browser . Most developers therefore program in the programming languages JavaScript , Java , Flash and Shockwave . Leading German developers with a strong global presence include Goodgame Studios , Bigpoint , Gameforge and Wooga . In addition to the classic browser game developers, some have specialized in the development of skill games. Developers here are for example game duel , midasplayer or m2p entertainment .

Social games developer

Social network game developers develop games based on social networks . One of the most famous developers is Zynga , who is best known for the games on Facebook . The games are mostly browser games, but may have been developed for other platforms.

Game developer for mobile phones and smartphones

In addition to studios that only specialize in the development of games for computers and video game consoles, developers of games for cell phones and smartphones have also intervened in the market in recent years. Various developers such as THQ created their own departments for games on mobile phones.

Since mobile games are currently designed in terms of graphics, as well as complexity and scope, in contrast to PC and console games, these development teams consist of considerably fewer people.

See also


  • Björn Bartholdy, Linda Breitlauch, André Czauderna and Gundolf S. Freyermuth: Studying games - what, how, where? State courses in the field of digital games. transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2018, ISBN 978-3-8376-4032-8 .
  • Bob Bates : Game Design - Concept, Creation, Marketing . 2002, ISBN 3-8155-0433-3 .
  • Katie Salen, Eric Zimmerman: Rules of Play. Game Design Fundamentals . 2003, Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
  • Marc Saltzman: Game Design - the secrets of the professionals; the experiences of the best designers in the world . 1999, Munich X-Games, ISBN 3-8272-9075-9 .
  • Bhatty, Michael: Interactive Story Telling - For the historical development and conceptual structuring of interactive stories , Aachen, Shaker Verlag 1999, ISBN 3-8265-6717-X

Web links

Commons : Game Developer  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Game developer  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Chandler, Heather Maxwell .: The game localization handbook . Charles River Media, Hingham, Mass. 2005, ISBN 1-58450-343-2 .
  2. Björn Bartholdy, Linda Breitlauch, André Czauderna and Gundolf S. Freyermuth (eds.): Studying games - what, how, where? State courses in the field of digital games . Transcript, Bielefeld 2018.
  3. intulo - Home. Retrieved June 23, 2019 .
  4. ^ Andreas W .: Interview with Gabe Newell. In: Half-Life Portal. Gutekunst internet services, November 22, 2007, accessed on July 27, 2012 : “ The most difficult time for developers was during the cartridge games for the Nintendo, the publisher's money was stored in the warehouses in the form of silicon. You couldn't take any chances, so you stayed strictly conservative about things that worked. With Steam exactly the opposite is the case, you can try everything without losing any money. The unlimited shelf space makes Steam interesting for old, no longer available games. "
  6. [1] Skill gaming provider
  7. Andre Linken: Zynga - The social games developer is back in the black. In: GameStar, April 25, 2013, accessed January 16, 2014 .