Developer working on her gaming development skills looking at a computer with two monitors in a dimly lit room.
Image: © Gorodenkoff/

Top skills to become a successful game developer

23 Aug 2023

Game development is a hugely attractive career for people interested in graphics, tech and creativity. Here are some of the essential skills you’ll need to get ahead in the sector.

Becoming a game developer is one of those rare career paths that can, in theory, come about from a person’s love of gaming as a hobby. It’s pretty much a dream for us all to have a career we love in a field we are passionate about, so working in the extremely lucrative gaming industry is a really good idea for someone who enjoys gaming in their downtime.

Generally speaking, people who game regularly as a hobby have more than a passing interest in technology. That’s an asset when it comes to a career like game development, which is obviously quite tech-oriented. You need to continuously follow new and emerging trends in gaming and in tech to keep your skills relevant. It’s worth pointing out, of course, that many devoted gamers might prefer not to mix their hobby with their work. A career in gaming is very different from gaming as a hobby – working as a game developer is not all about gaming all day long, sadly.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the professional skills you should hone if you want to work in the sector.


Being able and willing to work with other people is a big plus in any creative tech sector. In gaming, you might find yourself working with people with lots of different skill sets and you’ll have to know a little bit about what they do and how their roles in the game dev process interact with yours.

You should be comfortable working with people from departments like graphic design, motion design, scriptwriting, audio engineering and so on.

Programming and development

The types of programming languages you should learn depend on what area of game development you want to end up in – for example mobile, desktop or console. If the answer is mobile, do you want to be an iOS developer or work on Android?

Android mobile devs need Kotlin and Java skills as these are the languages most frequently used, while iOS game devs need Swift and Objective-C. It’s not just languages you need, it’s also important to have knowledge of the backend systems for either the Apple app store or Google Play and Android Studio.

And if you’re aiming to work in the desktop and console scene, you will need decent programming skills with Python and C++ and C#. Backend dev knowledge for common gaming systems like Nintendo Switch, Xbox and PlayStation are also important to learn.

Extended reality

VR and AR – ie extended reality – are huge trends in gaming at the moment, so if you have knowledge of those you will stand out. A while back, we did an explainer about some of the skills you need to work in extended reality, which will be helpful if that’s an area you’re interested in as a developer.

The tech is not exclusive to the gaming industry of course but it’s frequently deployed by developers so it’s a good area to know.

Animation software

Yes, you’re a developer rather than a designer, but it’s certainly very useful for you to be able to use the tech tools that animators use. Working in a creative field like game development means you need to have some creative flair as well as tech know-how. By learning popular animation software programmes like Unity and Maya, you’ll be able to prove you have the skills necessary to make yourself an asset in the industry.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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