Game Design Careers: Becoming a Game Designer

If you love video games, are creative, and have a knack for using computers, a game design career might be a good fit. Within gaming there is the role of the game designer, who is essentially the creative director responsible for designing a game’s rules, storyline, environment, and characters; the animator, who brings the characters to life; and the developer, who writes the code to make the game functional.

Careers in game design are highly coveted because many people are passionate about playing video games and consider this to be a dream job. Having a love for video games is important, but possessing an array of technical, creative, and writing skills is also essential. The game design field is fairly competitive, but pursuing a relevant degree and gaining industry experience may open doors to various game design careers.

A game designer’s main responsibility is to create fun and irresistible games. Game designers decide the plot and pace of a game and determine how often players encounter obstacles and new characters. Game designers also have to design puzzles, enemies, and other challenges, while ensuring that the difficulty of the game increases as the player advances.

Education and Skills for Careers in Game Design

There are no hard and fast education requirements for game design careers, but many game designers hold at least a bachelor’s degree in game design, computer science or computer engineering. Other common majors among game designers include graphic design, animation, English, and art. There are also game design schools that offer specialized degrees in the field at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s level.

Communication skills are essential for those pursuing a game design career, because you have to be able to write, persuade, and communicate your ideas effectively in order to create engaging video games. Taking courses in writing, theatre, English, and other liberal arts subjects can help you develop these valuable skills. Game designers must also be capable of managing people, because they have to work with teams of artists, programmers, and musicians—creating a single game out of many people’s ideas.

In addition to possessing relevant skills and experience, you have to show employers that you’re passionate about the medium. Although employers are wary of people who think that if they work as a game designer, they’ll get paid to play video games all day, some companies may require you to submit a video game resume that details all of the game systems you’ve used, your favorite video games, and your performance in those games.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have any employment or earnings data for careers in game design because the field is constantly changing. According to the results of Game Developer magazine’s tenth annual Game Developer Salary Survey, the average salary of game developers in 2010 was $70,223. Salaries vary widely depending on your experience level, educational background, location, and employer.

According to the Entertainment Software Association, American consumers spent $25.1 billion on video games, accessories, and hardware in 2010. Michael D. Gallagher, the president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, said that the video game industry directly and indirectly employs more than 120,000 people. The number of jobs in the game design field is likely to grow as the industry expands.

The game design field is competitive, but you can increase your chances of finding employment by obtaining a relevant degree. Your job as a game designer will be to create fun and engrossing games while working as part of a team, so look for a degree program on our site that prepares you for a game design career by honing your creative, technical, and communication skills.