|Level of studies:||master’s degree|
|Recommended high school specialisation:||Scientific|
|Beginner’s salary:||€ 4,150|
|Salary after experience:||€ 6,000|
|ROME Code :||M1805|
What are the responsibilities of a lead programmer?
When producing a video game, a lead programmer intervenes throughout the development, always ensuring that the specifications are respected and quality. Therefore, their responsibilities are to:
- Design and participation in development
- Programming certain aspects of the game
- The definition and distribution of the responsibilities of each member of the team
- Management of feature development
- Ensuring development compliance
What skills should they have?
A lead programmer has technical and managerial skills. This is what will allow them to do this job. In detail, this professional programmer masters the following elements:
- Graphical programming, tools, network
- Development languages
- Game engine design methods
- Production, integration, visualisation, test tools
- Project management (deadlines, costs, etc.)
In addition, they have a very good video game culture and are constantly on the lookout for everything done in the industry, and they know the production line of a video game well.
The essential qualities of a lead programmer
A lead programmer must have certain qualities to meet the responsibilities and directives entrusted to him. They:
- Have leadership skills
- Demonstrate work ethic, pedagogy and analysis
- Know how to manage and guide a team
- Are involved
The advantages and disadvantages of being a lead programmer
The advantages of being a lead programmer are as follows:
- Great flexibility
- Attractive salary
- Strong international mobility
There are also disadvantages to be accepted, such as:
- Knowing how to manage pressure and constraints
- Need to train in new techniques constantly
- Have a certain leadership skills to manage (can be an advantage or disadvantage)
Nicolas Hognon explains the advantages and disadvantages of his profession: « One of the advantages is taking part in the technical decisions concerning a project. I say take part, because even if it is sometimes necessary to decide, it is not necessarily necessary to impose your ideas without listening. And also certain decisions can be inflicted by problems other than technique. Even if you don’t decide everything when your team is competent and well organised enough, the feeling of being the conductor of a well-oiled machine is quite satisfying.
Conversely, managing a team and the issues that arise from it can keep a lead away from the code (no longer getting your hands dirty). In addition, it depends on the size of the team and the project. »
Which high school diploma should I have?
Wanting to work in this position means you must anticipate your future a little, starting in high school. You will have to choose a speciality that is either in mathematics, science or digital science. Otherwise, it is possible to opt for a science of technologies technical high school diploma.
Then, you will have to orient yourself in computer training with a specialisation in video games. This is what is most relevant because beyond technical learning, you will evolve in a gaming environment. It’s a plus. bachelor’s degree or even master’s degree is relevant.
It is estimated that around 5,000 students are enrolled in programming training.
The emphasis of our courses is on professionalisation. This is why everything is done so that you can acquire the basics of programming and computer languages, taking into account new features and innovations.
For example, here are the courses that you will be taught in bachelor’s degree:
- The history of video games
- Game design
- Sound design
- Network systems
- Game engines
- Web application development
- Game economy
- Labour and company law
In MSc, you will deepen your understanding of management and programming components, but also:
- Financial management
- Business creation
- Project management
- IT development
- Programming languages
- The architecture of game engines
- Mastery of different video game engines (Unity 3D, Unreal, etc.)
- Graphic programming
- Big data
Our G. Tech school, based in Lyon and Paris, offers to train you in the profession of lead programmer. With the IT development bachelor’s degree specialising in video games, you will learn to master the different languages and aspects of computer development for three years. Courses designed to teach gaming, esport, game design are on the program. In addition, you will dive into the professional world of video games with meetings, masterclasses and internships at the end of each year.
Then you have the opportunity to further develop your skills with the MSc in Video Game Programming. In 2 years, this diploma deepens IT development skills and allows students to learn the management and piloting of technological projects. A six-month internship completes the 4th year and a work-study program or an alternating rhythm (internship and fixed term contract) is offered in the last year.
Carrying out concrete productions such as developing a mobile application, a hyper casual mobile game or even designing a game with the other students of Gaming Campus, will give you your first experience. This is what we call project-based pedagogy. It is also a way of working in a team and leading a project from A to Z.
Especially since you will be accompanied throughout the creation process by professionals in the field.
Register for training
Applications are open freely for all of our bachelor’s degrees courses since we are not part of Parcoursup. You can therefore apply directly from our online platform here.
For information, our bachelor’s degree in Computer Development specialising in video games and our MSc in Video Game Programming have already received the innovative diploma awards of the year 2020 by the rating agency EEA Eduniversal. The MSc is even certified under the RNCP Title, level 7.
Lead programmer internship periods
Throughout their course, students will carry out a series of internships. These will be the opportunity to apply the knowledge learned in class, to meet professionals and participate in concrete projects. As an intern, the student may be entrusted with specific tasks and some responsibilities.
The periods occur at the end of the year: two months for the 1st and 2nd years of the bachelor’s degree; three months in the 3rd year.
In an MSc, you’ll do six months in the 4th year and in the fifth year, the course is made up of internship and fixed-term contracts.
How much does a lead programmer earn?
Depending on their years of experience, their profile, and the company for which they work, a lead programmer’s salary is variable. But on average, they earn nearly 50,000 euros per year.
Working in Canada, in Montreal in particular, you can earn a very good living as a lead programmer. Some salaries easily reach $ 125,000 per year. The average is $ 90,000. In Los Angeles, we can see the same thing. 152,000 dollars per year or 12,500 dollars per month for the maximum salary. The average is $ 100,000.
Which companies can you work in?
Within every video game development studio, a lead programmer manages a team of programmers. They can be found at Sony, Pure Imagination Studios, Blizzard, Activision, to name a few. In addition, they can work elsewhere in various IT, web and health companies.
Some examples :
- Game development studios (Nintendo, Electronics Arts, etc.)
- Mobile game studios (Green Panda Games)
- Web agencies
- Serious game studios (DOWiNO …)
On the internet, several websites list job and internship offers. You can go to:
- Gaming job
- Welcome to the jungle
Opportunities and possible developments
A lead programmer will work mainly in a video game studio. They can specialise in mobile games, serious games or online games. They will start as a programmer. They will reach this position of responsibility and be able, after a few years, to imagine themselves in another role such as video game project manager.
Become a lead freelance programmer
Sometimes for a video game project, a studio can hire a lead freelance programmer. This means relying on an expert, a professional who knows techniques and team management and project management. Becoming a freelance lead programmer is, therefore, possible after several years of experience as a programmer. Having a good network and specific technical appetites can make a difference.
Well known lead programmers
Thanks to the work of lead video game programmers, some games have achieved worldwide success. We can cite: Peter Molyneux (Fable), Ron Gilbert (The Secret of Monkey Island), John Romero (Doom), etc.
How can you become a lead programmer?
By gradually climbing the ranks. Becoming a lead programmer begins with being a programmer for a few years in order to gain experience. Then, with a desire to manage projects and a team, it is possible to reach the next level. For this, you’ll need to have fundamental knowledge. G. Tech offers to train you in both technique and management with its bachelor’s degree and MSc.