Also known as: Network engineer
What does a network programmer do?
Network programmers make it possible for gamers to play with each other. They develop the code behind online multiplayer games so that everything that happens in a game gets transmitted from one machine to another. This means the same things are displayed on each machine at more or less the same time which makes playing a game with people on other consoles and devices possible.
It’s one of the most complex areas of game planning as network programmers not only need to have an excellent understanding of game programming but also of network protocols and client/server engineering.
Watch and read
What’s a network programmer good at?
- Knowledge of games engines: understand the mechanics of gameplay and the requirements of games engines
- Knowledge of servers: integrate gameplay code with server engineering
- Knowledge of OSI: sound understanding of its layers, socket programming, routing
- Problem-solving: find solutions to technical difficulties
- Work independently: solve problems without peers as network programmers are often the only people doing the job within a studio – but be able to work well with other team members too
Who does a network programmer work with?
Network programmers talk to gameplay programmers about delivering network functionality. They also work with platform holders and hosting providers.
How do you become a network programmer?
This is not an entry level role. It’s a highly complex area of engineering. Think of getting work as a junior network programmer in another industry and move into games from there.
At school or college
If you want to go to university:
Take A-levels or Highers in maths and computer science of a BTEC Diploma/Extended Diploma in Computing.
If you want to go straight into a job or apprenticeship:
The following Level 3 vocational qualifications would be useful.
- BTEC Diploma in Computer Systems and Network Support
- AQA Technical Level IT: Networking
- BTEC Diploma in Computing for the Creative Industries
Get a degree:
Most people in the games industry have degrees. For this role a degree in computer science will be the most useful. An increasing number of programmers have master’s degrees too.
Get to know people in the games industry by attending events, including games conferences and expos. Meet professionals and ask them questions about their work, while demonstrating interest and knowledge in the industry. Offer to provide them with your professional contact details and try to stay in touch with them. Go to Network well to learn how to do this.
Search for jobs:
Use the UK Games Map to find games companies near you, then go to their websites directly and check out their open roles. Even if they are not advertising the right role, if you like a specific company it’s worth emailing them to let them know you’re looking in case something suitable comes up in future.
Look outside games:
It’s worth being a network programmer in any other industry as using similar software will build up your skills. You can use this to move into games at a later point.
You might also be interested in…
Being a graphics programmer, gameplay programmer, physics programmer, artificial intelligence (AI) programmer, virtual reality (VR) programmer, tools engineer or an engine programmer in the games industry. You might also be interested in being a software developer in visual effects (VFX). Alternatively, you could consider a technical director (TD) role in VFX or in the animation industry.
Film and TV drama
Covers genres ranging from period dramas to epic fantasies screened at the cinema, on TV or on streaming sites
Visual effects (VFX)
Involves making sequences on a computer that can't be created on set, like enormous crowds and fire-breathing dragons
Creates the illusion of movement, includes computer-generated, stop-motion and hand-drawn animation
Can be defined as 'TV without actors' - non-fiction telly on any subject from natural history and music to dating or learning a skill
Is the final stage in film and programme-making where footage is cut, music, sound and commentary are mixed and visual effects are added
Covers the engineer roles that bring a live TV progamme to your screen, from research and development to hardware installation, software and satellite systems