Like the other parts of the screen industries, a career in games development offers a wide variety of different roles – from freelance roles to permanent employment contracts. There are roles in programming, art, marketing, project management, sales, finance and a number of roles that cross over with film and TV eg: acting, music/score composing and research. So, it's important to think about what type of work you want to do. Below are examples of some of the types of work that you can do. The ScreenSkills website also has a list of job profiles for the sector on their website.
This is the team that organises the creation of the games, including oversight of their development, funding, scheduling, marketing and distribution. A typical entry level position in this team is usually as an assistant and the role can be very varied, including responsibilities such as managing the day-to-day running of projects, liaising with the designers and sometimes helping with publicity and marketing.
These teams are responsible for designing the overall appearance of the game, story, characters, levels etc. Team members can include lead games designers, level designers (often an entry level position), user experience designers and writers. The most senior person on the team is usually the lead designer who will work with other team members to develop ideas about many aspects of the game such as character development, what the environment should look like, whether external researchers need to be hired to ensure historical accuracy and/or authenticity of the world that's been created. In larger studios these roles may be very defined and each team member will only work on a specific area, however in smaller studios these roles may be combined; e.g.: a lead designer may also be involved in programming and/or other work too.
The art department create 2D and 3D work for characters, the world/landscapes etc. A concept artist will often take the lead on creating illustrations of the various components of the game and will be supported by other members of the team who are then responsible for creating 3D versions of their work eg: the environment artists and texture artists who make locations and surfaces look as realistic as possible.
There are different types of programming roles within the department, but overall the team has responsibility for writing, testing and fixing the code for the game. Depending on the size of the studio, programmers may have a range of responsibilities or just focus on one particular area eg: an engine programmer develops the game engine, a gameplay programmer creates character interactions, a network programmer writes the code to allow multiple on-line players to play the game at the same time.