With the video game market reaching an approximate value of $60 billion in the United States alone, some companies have chosen to try and figure out how to break into this lucrative and exciting industry. However, these companies may have in-house or outsourced third-party web, app, or software development teams on the payroll to take care of the business’s digital presence.
This is where many of these businesses find themselves asking if the idea of “devs are devs” is a true statement. The simple answer is no—website developers and game developers are definitely not the same. While there are pros and cons to each development career path, many devs choose to stay loyal to their type of chosen development path after realizing what it takes to switch from one to the other.
What exactly separates game and web developers, and why aren’t they interchangeably hired?
What Do Web Developers Do?
As the name implies, web developers create websites and related content for the internet. Devs in these roles deal with the design implementation, backend functionality, maintenance, and support of web solutions ranging from simple blogs to more complex online shops or social networking sites. This involves building functionalities into sites to perform the necessary tasks.
Front-end developers use coding languages that help them design the look and feel of websites. A front-end dev builds anything that a site visitor interacts with on a website. Back-end developers write the core logic that makes the sites function as intended while grabbing data from databases and choosing how to display this info on the front end. Back-end devs utilize languages such as PHP, Python, and Node.js.
Full-stack development roles combine the front-end and back-end responsibilities into one type of developer. These devs typically excel at all stages of development itself and help to continually contribute functionality throughout the development process.
The Role of a Game Developer
While it’s unfair to say that game development is totally different from website development, there are many stand-out differences that separate the 2 types of devs. The game development process is the art of conceptualization, design, coding, and the eventual release of video games. Although websites continually advance in terms of interactivity and artificial intelligence nowadays, they simply have yet to achieve the depth of video game functionality.
Video game development requires the use of many different components throughout the development process. This includes aspects such as physics, digital character models, core logic, environments, and so on. Website development just doesn’t need to think about such things. Those going into the field of web development typically focus on a specialty such as 3D rendering, creative leadership, network programming, engine development, and such.
While totally dependent on the complexity and game budget, video game development takes anywhere from a few months to years to reach the release day of the product. It also isn’t unheard of for the development team consisting of several dozen smaller teams working on one game in parallel to reach the release date. There are many different roles working to complete the entirety of the game development process.
These types of teams or roles include game design, art, sound engineering, game-level designers, testers, producers, and game developers. Video games are fully immersive experiences involving sound, environments, and even physics – none of which are aspects that website developers must regularly consider or account for in a development project.
Video game engineers take the visions of the art and design teams and translate them into reality by writing the code that makes the game playable across consoles and other devices. They must build the core code functionalities that make the game work while incorporating artwork and configuring the user’s access and interactions with the game. They must also account for artificial intelligence, multiplayer networking, and many other important factors.
Can a Web Dev Become a Game Dev or Vice Versa?
When companies look to hire a new developer for their team, they should take the time to figure out what they actually want to build to make the right hiring decision. Web development is a much more streamlined and straightforward process compared to all that goes into video game development.
Assuming that a web developer could do the job of a game developer or vice versa simply isn’t a fair assumption. Each type of development comes with its own processes, specialties, procedures, and collaboration requirements among many others that make the jobs similar but definitely not interchangeable.
Game development is actually a much more competitive and exclusive world of development as well, thanks to its oversupply of potential candidates versus available work. Web developers have a much easier time finding an entry-level position to hit the ground running after they finish their schooling or training.
Not only do logistics pose a challenge to switching from one to the other, but it also involves a shift in how devs approach programming due to the addition of scenes, artistry, and physics. This change in thinking and approaches isn’t something developers of any kind have the ability to just turn off and on. It takes years of learning and practice to become either type of developer and to consider them as interchangeable is a disservice to both.