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I was reading some job descriptions from some AAA developers in the gaming industry, and I noticed there were jobs for "Gameplay Programmers" as well as "Gameplay Engineers."

Are those the same thing? Do they do the same thing?

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about 15 thousand dollars – jhocking Jun 28 '13 at 12:48
up vote 12 down vote accepted

Generally, the title "engineer" and "programmer" are interchangeable in the game development industry. If the titles have a distinction, it will usually be specific to the company in question.

Similarly, the actual day-to-day tasks performed by employees with one particular title (such as "gameplay programmer") will often vary significantly between studios.

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(not that this likely applies, but) Note that some parts of world may treat the title "Engineer" differently than others. Short story: Where I come from (Alberta, Canada), there is a professional Guild of Engineers that restricts the use of the term to professional Engineers only. Even though I am professional programmer, I can not call myself an Engineer, so this may depend on the location. – John McDonald Jun 28 '13 at 3:21
This is true, and it does matter in some parts of the US as well (Texas, I think, being one of them). – Josh Petrie Jun 28 '13 at 3:28
@JohnMcDonald that's a specific organisation, not a specific area. A programmer is an engineer, a software engineer, just as a plumber is an engineer, a plumbing engineer. Such organisations tend to limit themselves to certain types of engineers, say mechanical engineers. – jwenting Jun 28 '13 at 8:15
@jwenting Some jurisdictions require a license to practice certain types of engineering, and it is illegal to misrepresent your certifications. In Texas and some provinces in Canada you cannot tell people you are a professional Software Engineer unless you actually have a license to practice software development. – M. Dudley Jun 28 '13 at 11:20
@jwenting Actually, that's exactly what it means. In these jurisdictions calling oneself an engineer without a proper license is considered fraudulent. The very meaning of license is that there is a blanket ban on others using the term unless they cough up the dough. Sure you can tell people you're an engineer but if you professionally represent yourself as such without a license there can be legal consequences to doing so. It seems silly, but that's the power of government orchestrated shams. – Frank B Jun 28 '13 at 14:32

Most job titles are arbitrary. This applies for all industries.

The meanings of those titles are probably different for each company, so your best bet is to read the description of each one of those jobs, instead of just the title.

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My interpretation would be that a gameplay programmer is someone who works with code most of the day while an engineer could do that, but s/he could also work with gameplay mechanics, user experience and other things that are not as code oriented.

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Funny, I had a totally different interpretation: Engineer is the engine maker, while programmer is the script programmer. Who knows... – Panda Pajama Jun 28 '13 at 11:42

Engineers, from my understanding, work on the functionality of the engine itself. For example, if you are using the unreal engine and are an engineer, you can extend the functionality of the engine for use by other programmers.


Galaga engineer - creates ship class, including movement, laser, collision. Gets specs from designers on what functions are necessary

Galaga programmer - programs controllers for which buttons move, shoot lasers, and what happens upon collision. Gets specs from designers on how to implement functions via parameters.

But as others have rightly pointed out, duties of game programmers often include both types of coding.

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