Video Game Designer
If you love gaming, and have a desire to learn the latest programming, art and media production skills, then video game designer is the career path for you. Depending on your interests and employment goals, the video game design job market offers a wealth of opportunities. According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, video game designer employment will skyrocket 19% this decade, placing it among the fastest growing careers in America.
Most video game designer jobs fall into one of three disciplines: Game Artist. Game Designer or Game Programmer. The game design career track you choose will determine your daily activities and responsibilities, as well as the skills and education requirements to get hired. Learn about video game designer skills by discipline below.
All video game designers spend a lot of time in the classroom – or virtual classroom for online students – learning new skills to keep up with the gaming industry’s rapidly evolving technologies, trends and emerging platforms. However, with hard work and intense training comes great rewards — most video game designers with 6+ years of experience earn over $100,000 per year, according to Game Developer Magazine’s 2012 Salary Survey.
Explore video game design schools online and in your area to compare game design training programs.
a.k.a. Video Game Developer | Simulation Programmer | Game Artist | Mobile Game Designer | Game Programmer
Video Game Designer Skills Responsibilities
In-demand skill sets and day-to-day activities for Video Game Designers include the following. Game designers:
- Devise the missions, challenges and puzzles that will be encountered in game play.
- Create narrative features, such as story-lines, role-play mechanics and character bios.
- Conduct periodic design reviews throughout the video game development timeline.
- Collaborate with artists and sound engineers to achieve the desired audio/visual style.
- Plan games using screenshot mockups, gameplay flowcharts and other visual devices.
- Maintain design level documentation, including mechanics, guidelines and mission outlines.
- Work closely with game programmers and artists to ensure that the design is being followed.
Sought-after skills and typical responsibilities for Video Game Artists include the following: Video game artists:
- Are responsible for the aesthetics (or visual style) of video games and simulations.
- Are skilled in traditional art concepts and techniques, such as line, form and color theory.
- Design the artwork for all visual game aspects, such as characters, weapons and vehicles.
- Use 2D/3D computer animation software to mockup and animate video game levels and worlds.
- Some game artists use motion-capture software to incorporate live-action actors into the video game.
- Collaborate with game programmers and designers to ensure finished product is consistent with original artwork.
Marketable skill sets and daily activities for Video Game Programmers include the following. Game programmers:
- Are fluent in the popular video game development programming languages, such as Java, C and C++.
- Develop the artificial intelligence (AI) that dictates reactions of computer-controlled elements.
- Write and fine-tune precise computer code that controls the difficulty level of a video game.
- Develop the code that enables multiplayer gameplay over a network, such as Xbox Live.
- Test develop game physics, which controls how objects interact in the video game environment.
- Work closely with game artists and designers to accurately incorporate their visions into the game.
Video Game Designer Education Requirements
Video game designer education requirements vary according to your game design job specialty. Game design training programs focus on three main disciplines – design, art, and programming. Your personal interests, passions and employment goals will determine which video game design training program is the best fit to get hired for the job you want. Here is a breakdown of video game designer education requirements by game design specialty:
Video Game Designer A college degree or certificate in game design or creative writing will help you get hired as a video game designer. Skills to look for in a video game designer education program include game theory, storytelling storyboarding, game planning and strategy, creative content writing, brainstorming creative thinking, and game design project management.
Video Game Programmer For game design programming jobs, the education requirement is typically a bachelor’s degree in video game development, computer science, software engineering, mobile application development, game simulation programming, or a similar programming-focused area of study. Video game programmers should be fluent in the object-oriented programming (OOP) languages commonly used in video game design, such as Java, C and C++.
Video Game Artist Education requirements for game art jobs ideally include a specialized 2- or 4-year game art degree, however a traditional art school degree is acceptable in many cases. Video game artists must first master traditional art techniques and principles, such as form, perspective color theory, before they can apply these skills to game elements like characters environments. A prospective video game artist’s most crucial asset is his or her design portfolio; the stronger and more relevant your portfolio, the less you will have to rely on your formal education to land the job. The ability to effectively use modern graphic design computer animation software, such as Adobe Flash, will also help you get hired as a video game artist.
With video game popularity at an all-time high, schools are evolving their game design education programs with topics like 3D modeling, character animation, world design, storyboarding, simulation programming and more. Research and compare the top-reviewed game design programs in the U.S. Canada and online.
What Traits do Game Design Studios Look for in a New Hire?
Game studios seek out designers who love gaming, because real players recognize what makes a video game good, bad, ugly, or incredible. Strong problem-solving skills are key for game designers, as the video game creation process is ripe with challenges and pitfalls. To succeed as a video game designer you need to be patient and willing to work long hours and overtime to solve these problems. Successful video game designers need the ability to work well as part of a team, as video games are an intensely collaborative medium.
Video Game Designer Training, Certificates Degrees
Browse the top-rated undergrad graduate degrees, professional certificates, online courses and self-paced training programs matching the video game designer education requirements and career path.
Admissions advisors can provide more info about game design programs and curriculum, admissions start dates, online learning details, career opportunities, tuition costs, personalized financial aid scholarship options.
Got targeted learning goals? Many schools offer individual courses from campus and online degree programs.
Average starting salary for video game designers and related positions:
- QA/Video Game Tester: $54,000
- Video Game Artist: $77,000
- Game Level Designer: $80,000
- Video Game Designer: $80,000
- Video Game Art Director: $87,000
- Video Game Developer: $87,000
- iPhone Game Developer: $90,000
- Blackberry Game Developer: $90,000
- Android Game Developer: $94,000
- Java Game Developer: $96,000
Video Game Designer Jobs
Your specialized game design training and experience qualifies you for a variety of exciting job roles including:
Video Game Designer Job Outlook
There’s never been a better time to learn video game design. The multi-billion dollar video game industry has more than tripled in size over the past decade with no signs of slowing. Beyond the booming market for video games on PCs and the major consoles (Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Wii) the increased popularity and sophistication of mobile technologies has opened up a new world of career opportunities for video game designers and developers. Game designers with mobile development expertise will be especially sought after as smart phones and tablets, such as the iPhone, iPad, and a host of Android devices, continue to change the way we access and play video games. Employment of video game designers is expected to grow by 19 percent from 2014 through 2024, much faster than the 7% average for all occupations.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2016-2017 Occupational Outlook Handbook
Game Design Related Careers
Subject Matter Expert Contributor
Daniel Greenspan is an IT education specialist and entrepreneur living in New York City. Working closely with IT professionals, world-class trainers and technology executives since 2005 has given him a unique perspective into the IT job market and the skills and credentials IT professionals need to succeed.