Gameplay Engineer

The role, salary, software and skills of a gameplay engineer

Student work by Alexander Murdoch

What does a gameplay engineer do?

Gameplay engineers are code writers who adapt software to the requirements of a video game. They may also be required to create custom software for functions specific to a game. 

Player usability is a key focus of the Gameplay Engineer. They oversee User Interface issues, player notifications, gameplay mechanics and game upgrades. Optimizing the playability of the game requires creative solutions to technical issues, testing, software integration, debugging, and an element of design. 

The Gameplay Engineer also has to keep an eye on the long-term stability of the product as players will push the game to its limits. Engineers need to know what these limits are and ensure the programming is rigorous enough to withstand the most experienced of players.

Gameplay engineer job description

The role of the Gameplay Engineer is to write code to affect gameplay. They also correct or refine software tools that may not be working effectively for the game. They are technical problem solvers, engineering solutions for all departments. They will also deal with UI (user interface) events, player notifications, calculate math for upgrades and write evaluation code.

Smoothing out clunky gameplay is also the task of the Gameplay Engineer, ensuring interactions within the game are realistic, satisfying and true to the objectives of the game. Game optimization is a key objective in their role, they understand game engines and how to best utilize them for the game. Developers rely on them to bring out the best possible results in gameplay and bring the game to life. The end user experience is always at the forefront of consideration in this role. 

Role & responsibilities of a gameplay engineer in the video game industry:

  • Liaising with game designers and developers on the requirements and technical difficulties of the game
  • Researching and developing into the game engine options and best tools to apply to it 
  • Creating procedures and production documents
  • Working to tight schedules and keeping to budget
  • Assisting animators and programmers in software efficiency
  • Enhancing the gameplay experience for users
  • Conducting testing for gameplay and user experience
  • Collaborating with all departments to smooth over technical issues, problem solve and create solutions during the production pipeline process
  • Responding to the technical needs of all departments
  • Working in teams towards common goals
  • Providing ongoing tech support after the game has been launched, working on upgrades to the game


Skills required to become a gameplay engineer

Gameplay engineers will usually have a background in computer science or specialized career training in game programming. 

Video game studios may look for the following skills in gameplay engineers:

  • Training in computer science, computer programming or software engineering
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Knowledge of 2D and 3D animation software
  • Ability to code custom software tools
  • Familiar with the game production pipeline process
  • Passion for video games and experience with gaming
  • Interpersonal skills to deal with creative and production teams
  • Team player, ability to work independently
  • Experience in debugging software and integrating platforms
  • Analytical mindset
  • Able to keep on schedule and meet deadlines
  • Good communication skills
  • Expert knowledge of technical and software advancements in the gaming industry
  • Knowledge of gaming genres and trends

What software and tools do gameplay engineers use?

Gameplay engineers work with game engines and programming software to drive the game along with Programmer teams. They also work with animation and computer graphics software and write code to ensure the game can be fully realized. Working between platforms is also an engineer’s job, they must ensure that software can ‘talk’ to each other and operate harmoniously with the game engine. 

Gameplay engineers may need knowledge of a combination of the following software:

  • C
  • C++
  • Java
  • Nuke
  • Unreal Engine
  • Maya
  • 3D Studio Max
  • Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects
  • Unity

How much does a gameplay engineer make? 

Gameplay engineers will earn the same as game programmers. The average salary of a gameplay engineer is between USD $49,000 to USD $85,000. *Source: Glassdoor

To learn more about this field, visit: The Game Development Process: How Video Games are Made



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