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I have firmly decided to be in the games industry. However, I have really hard time choosing a bachelor program because I can't understand what's the difference between games technology and games development. I've checked the unis prospectus and I find the two programs pretty much similar.

What is the difference between games technology and games development?

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    \$\begingroup\$ If to you the programs look similar, it's most likely a marketing trick: they try to differentiate themselves from the others. Around where I live, the paper you get from school is really not important compared to what you can do, and if you can do more than what you've seen at school, that's even better. \$\endgroup\$ – Vaillancourt Jul 6 '15 at 13:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ GZ for reading the prospectus, however. I've been to a school where half of the students did not do it and left after only one year in because it was not what they had expected. \$\endgroup\$ – Vaillancourt Jul 6 '15 at 13:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ You have a good question, though it's not a good fit for this site. The answer depends entirely upon the school you're looking at. \$\endgroup\$ – Almo Jul 6 '15 at 13:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ As far as I know, game tech and game dev are two entirely different things. This seems like a valid question to me. Maybe the terminology varies across countries though. \$\endgroup\$ – Jelle van Campen Jul 6 '15 at 14:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's very true. I've always considered dev it to be inbetween tech and design. Design = to design a game from a non-techincal, creative standpoint; Development = to develop/ implement a game based on a given design, making use of existing game technologies; Tech = the study/ design of supporting technologies, independant of a specific game. \$\endgroup\$ – Jelle van Campen Jul 6 '15 at 14:53
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I don't know if this terminology has the same meaning across countries, but the terms can definitely be used to describe distinct topics. Note that, related to the terms game technology and game development, there also exists the term game design.


Game technology

Game technology refers to the development of supporting technologies for games, independant of a specific game design. It focusses on the design of high-performace algorithms of core game-related functionality.

Think of it as low-level tech that belongs in your game engine. Topics you would label as game technology include: rendering algorithms, input polling from devices, collision checking and physics, audio processing, timing, file handling, memory handling and more.

Game technology expertise is important if you are developing a custom game engine or engine component, as well as low level mechanisms to support game development decisions. Additionally, you can pursue game tech as an academic career as constitutes a big body of academic research, being an optimization/ performance-related field. As user Stephan notes, you could see game technology as a form of high-performance computing, specialized in game-related algorithms.


Game development

Game development refers to using game technology to build specific game designs. It is an intermediate inbetween game technology and game design, because its goal is to build functional game mechanics (conceptualized in the game design phase), making use of low-level game technologies.

You can think of it as the answer to the following question: "How do I translate an idea for a game mechanic into a functional game/ algorithm?". For example you could design a game where you shoot birds at crates and pigs, with the goal of destroying as many of these objects as possible. The game development step is then to: 1. implement shooting of birds based on touch-screen input of the player, 2. implementing physics-based movement of the projectile-bird using a physics engine, 3. implementing destruction of scene elements by checking for collisions via your physics engine and spawning particles, 4. implementing the rendering of your objects and particles using a rendering system and more.

Game development expertise is important when you actually want to make a game. Note that algorithms created during game development are related to a specific game, whereas game technological algorithms are agnostic of a specific game. Because of this, acedemic research on game development is much more limited than research on game technology. On the flip-side, game technology expertise is less required in the industry, as you can rely on existing game engines that handle most low-level operations themselves. Game development-related studies aim at giving you an insight in how game technologies work from a high-level standpoint (without delving into the nitty-gritty optimization details) with the goal of allowing you to make use of them efficiently.


Game design

Game design refers to the conceptualization of a game idea, independant of specific technologies. It emphasizes on coming up with novel gameplay mechanics, that would be fun to play for a user.

Think of this as the artistic side of game design. Game design includes the design of a story for a game along with quests that can be situated in this story, the design of items, conceptualizing novel enemy behavior patterns and more. Game design focusses largely on creativity.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I would suggest that Games Technology is more or less a specialized form of High Performance Computing. I don't quite agree with the Games Development example here, as your examples are of Game Design. Game development is writing the code that achieves the design goals. There is little difference between the processes of Game Development and Computer Science, except for the depth of knowledge in the development space. \$\endgroup\$ – Stephan Jul 7 '15 at 17:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Stephan I didn't think of including "game design" in the discussion as well. I rewrote the answer, including this term, and I feel like it is clearer now. Thanks for the suggestion! \$\endgroup\$ – Jelle van Campen Jul 8 '15 at 8:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Much better! Very good answer :) \$\endgroup\$ – Stephan Jul 8 '15 at 17:28

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