Today I was asked if I want to do Game development or Application Development. I never thought to that I will ever do Games for a living. I will try it for a couple of weeks maybe but what are your thoughts on this topic?

P.S. the apps or games will be for mobile devices.

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    It really depends on your interests. Game development can be funny, but trust me, so can be the development of a warehouse management system. Especially if the warehouse is highly automatized and your software controls dozens of robots - stacking cranes, laser guided vehicles etc.
    – user281377
    Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 11:41
  • It really REALLY depends on where your interests lie. From what I hear, game dev at a professional level is crazy hard work compared to many other coding gigs... @ammoQ: ooh, lasers :D
    – Trezoid
    Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 11:44
  • @Andrei - This is an odd question. If you never thought of doing game development then you obviously have your choice.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 12:33
  • Also consider that currently it does not look very good for game developers: gamasutra.com/view/feature/6299/… Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 13:30
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    Games ARE applications. This is like asking if you'd like to drive in a truck or a vehicle. Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 19:26

10 Answers 10


I have a coworker who came from the world of game development. Unless you are working for the few big dogs that have their own publishing department, your employer is working for an external publisher with the constant threat of canceling the contract. The stress that management feels is passed on to you. Trying to pull off a quality title on shrinking budgets and demands of people who may not care what you are trying to do in your title, but pay your salary, is quite the challenge.

At the end of the day, he became burnt out on games and after a couple years out of the industry still can't bring himself to play any video games.

Application development is pretty stable work, and while your clients can sometimes be crazy, they are not so quick to pull the contract cancellation card. The difference is that they depend on you to help them get better at whatever it is they need. They know that if nothing changes they can't improve their business. Games on the other hand are for pure enjoyment, and publishers only care about making money.

Game development can be enjoyable, as long as you don't have any aspirations to go up against the big dogs. Small mobile device games are a lot easier to compete with, mainly because it's a smaller market. As such it's also harder to generate enough revenue to sustain the habit full time.

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    Agreed, it's more the videogame industry that burns it's developers than the video game developpement itself.
    – Klaim
    Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 14:36

Game Development I think is cool and great and all that, but from what i've been told the hours can be stressful, and sometimes the work environment is.....less than suitable depending on the company.

However I think it can be alot of fun, stressful......but fun. but it's also highly competitive. you gotta be on top of your game. I've always wanted to work for Bethesda games......

edit: But with that being said......i'd still stick to application development. I dont do well under high stress, and programming can be stressful enough. I wouldn't want my job held over me constantly.


I've been a game developer for 20 years and I enjoy it very much. The main good things about it are

  1. Games are fun to work on from a design point of view.
  2. It's nice to be working on products that provide people with pleasure.
  3. The technical problems involved in programming games (e.g., limited space and time) are very interesting.

The main downsides are

  1. It can be very intense (there are plenty of crunch horror stories out there and I have some of my own).

  2. You are often at the mercy of outside publishers.

  3. A lot depends on how well your games sell.

  4. If you are "down in the trenches" you might not find a lot of the good points listed above that rewarding.

I'd choose this career again in a heartbeat but it's not for everyone.


While in college I concentrated in Game Development as it applies to interface design so that it could be applied to Application Development.

Game Development has been leading the way as far as performance algorithms and user interactions for a very long time. It has to. If a user gets annoyed at playing the game, they don't play it. If an application user gets annoyed at using specialized software, they often have no other choice.

If you design Applications as if they were a game, people might actually want to use the application. Is it wrong to expect all software developers to make their software fun?

  • "If an application user gets annoyed at using specialized software, they often have no other choice." Sad but true.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 19:34

Ceteris paribus I'd go for game development, because there's potential for more innovation and creativity there (or rather, there was...recent games seem to be all pretty predictable).

But the game development industry itself is a big put off for me. Not that I like the corporate world either, but I find it more tolerable.


both can be good or stressful. It depends on what do you like to do. But I think the market for game developers is smaller than for app developers. So I think, if you want to be a good game developer, you have to be passionate about games, you have to be a gamer and think as a gamer. That is not easy. Are you? :)


I'd choose Application Development (that's what I did actually). After reading several articles such as this one written by game devs. I realized that my choice was right.


Although it would be great to be involved in developing AI for games, I'll stick with application development. I play games for fun and for stress relief and even though I write apps for fun as well, the apps are more simplistic and usually for learning a new language or technique. I'm afraid that mixing my stress relief with my career would not be the chocolate-meets-peanut-butter experience I would hope for


Do whichever is most attractive at the moment. Your choice is binding for about one month. If you want to do game development, go do it. If you don't like it, then find another position. There's always work for good developers.


I work as a business application developer but here is my two cents to share what it is like. The stuff you have to implement tend to stay the same, if it's not generating a report with existing data then it's a new form for data entry with a few gadgets here and there such as event triggers, so most of the complex stuff tend to lie in the database layer when you start writing PL/SQL code or procedures to handle the business logic eg. batch processes, claim validation engines, business intelligence. There are change requests are frequently submitted for the system from the users and that is where most of the money is coming from, but often times, the users themselves don't even know what they want so you are often plagued with twice the amount of work when it's time for user acceptance testing. If you are new to the company, you often have little to no knowledge of the business processes of the clients you are serving so you need to have the intuition and common sense usually helps. The biggest challenge I find is plugging in changes that somehow fit in with the complex business logic that is already embedded into the system because you might run into contradictions of existing rules that were implemented and long forgotten by even the users themselves until you remind them.