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Salary Range
€24k - €70k
Career Zone

In Brief...

Computer games programmers turn the ideas and specifications of games designers into games that people can actually play.


  • Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Engineering and Technology Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.


  • Programming Writing computer programs for various purposes.
  • Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Quality Control Analysis Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.

In Summary - Games Programmer

Career Sectors

Games Programmers typically work in the following Career Sectors:

Computers & ICT
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Videos on the Web

Further Information

The Work - Games Programmer

It takes a variety of talented people working many long hours to produce a successful video game. Besides programmers, the production team may include artists, musicians, actors, analysts, game designers, accountants and project managers. A successful game programmer must be willing to work closely with a variety of nontechnical people, write code according to detailed specifications and endure long hours to produce the next spectacular video game.

Programming Skills

Game programming ranges from working with high performance console games written in machine language to casual Internet games using standard web programming languages. There are many types of programmers, including engine programmers, artificial intelligence programmers, graphics programmers, sound programmers, tool programmers, network programmers, physics programmers, and user interface programmers.

A game programmer must be fluent in a variety of languages and be able to switch when needed. Start with traditional languages like C and C++ and some understanding of machine languages and embedded programming. Game designers rely heavily on physics engines, game libraries and special purpose languages so programmers must have the skills to learn new tools quickly, getting up to speed reading manuals and following code examples.

Internet and mobile-based games are the early 21st century rage, so become familiar with web programming, Android and Apple's IOS development.

Communication Skills

Game programmers work closely with a variety of team members ranging from artists and performers to mathematicians and business people. While most of the day is spent writing computer code, you will also need to work and communicate with other team members. Learn to speak and understand their jargon so you can translate their needs into code. An artist, for instance, will describe changes to video rendering in terms of light and shading, but not necessarily in terms of pixels or color values. The better you understand their needs, the more realistic the game you help to create and the player's experience will be.

Gaming Experience

Computer gamers share a culture built from long hours playing in the same virtual worlds. While it may be possible to assimilate some of this from other gamers, a certain amount of background and knowledge of this culture will be needed to communicate with other team members. Specifications and problem reports will assume an understanding of gaming concepts and gamers judge new games against past experience. When two programmers with similar abilities interview for a new position, the one with the most gaming experience has the competitive advantage.

Most commonly reported Work Tasks

  • Correct errors by making appropriate changes and rechecking the program to ensure that the desired results are produced.
  • Conduct trial runs of programs and software applications to be sure they will produce the desired information and that the instructions are correct.
  • Write, update, and maintain computer programs or software packages to handle specific jobs such as tracking inventory, storing or retrieving data, or controlling other equipment.
  • Write, analyze, review, and rewrite programs, using workflow chart and diagram, and applying knowledge of computer capabilities, subject matter, and symbolic logic.
  • Perform or direct revision, repair, or expansion of existing programs to increase operating efficiency or adapt to new requirements.
  • Consult with managerial, engineering, and technical personnel to clarify program intent, identify problems, and suggest changes.
  • Perform systems analysis and programming tasks to maintain and control the use of computer systems software as a systems programmer.
  • Compile and write documentation of program development and subsequent revisions, inserting comments in the coded instructions so others can understand the program.
  • Prepare detailed workflow charts and diagrams that describe input, output, and logical operation, and convert them into a series of instructions coded in a computer language.
  • Consult with and assist computer operators or system analysts to define and resolve problems in running computer programs.

Most commonly reported Work Activities

  • Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
  • Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.

Interests - Games Programmer

This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:


The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.


Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.

They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.


Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.


As a computer games programmer, you will need an interest in computers and a good knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, computer games. Advanced programming skills, preferably in a number of different computer languages, are essential.  
As with most computer-related jobs, you will require a logical, methodical approach to your work. You will also need to be patient and painstaking, as developing a new game from scratch is a long and demanding process.  
You will need to be a good team worker, able to get along with others and meet deadlines. You must also be willing to spend many hours sitting at a computer developing code. Good problem-solving abilities are essential when attempting to remove 'bugs' and to find ways to solve complex programming challenges.  
Those working as consultants should be prepared to travel to visit clients and spend some nights away from home.  
A constant willingness to learn and develop your knowledge is also important as the industry is constantly changing and improving.

Entry Requirements - Games Programmer

Pay & Salary - Games Programmer

Salary Range (thousands per year)* €24k - €70k

Data Source(s):
Morgan McKinley

Last Updated: April, 2015

* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.

Labour Market Updates - Games Programmer

As with programmers, the labour market indicators examined point to an occupation in high demand with strong employment growth and evidence that employers are having difficulties filling vacancies.

National Skills Bulletin 2018

Useful Contacts - Games Programmer

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