Computer Game Designer Job Facts

Research what it takes to become a computer game designer. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Game Production degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Computer Game Designer?

Computer game designers come up with ideas for computer games and develop everything from game narratives to game characters. They use computer programs to create digital representations of the characters. Then they create storyboards that outline the main plot and dialogue of the game and animate scenes and character actions. They also design and create the world players navigate through.

In many cases, they need to develop the game software that brings these components together. This involves taking all the different programs they made for the game and assembling them in a way that creates the game players will play. Larger projects are not typically done by one person. A game designer may work with a team of designers who include multimedia artists, animators and application software developers. The following table contains an overview of how to enter this field.

Multimedia Artists and Animators Applications Software Developers
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Animation
Game development
Computer science
Computer science
Software engineering
Key Skills Creativity, programming, art design, character and story development Programming, mapping software and testing software performance
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% 19%
Median Salary (2015)* $63,970 $98,260

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Do I Need to Become a Computer Game Designer?

If you'd like to pursue a career as a computer game designer, you should consider obtaining a bachelor's degree. Majors such as computer science, game development or computer game design are commonly available at colleges and universities and could make it easier for you to enter the field.

Computer game design programs focus on the creative design aspect of electronic games and could include digital media and design courses and fewer computer programming courses. If you're interested in a more technical program, you could look into computer science programs with an emphasis in game design or game development. These programs address the technical aspects of game design, requiring more coursework in programming, software engineering and computer graphics.

Regardless of which type of program you enroll in, you should expect to take courses in computer science, game design, digital art and storyboarding. Additionally, most programs will give you the opportunity to work on a project that involves designing an actual game.

What Job Duties Might I Perform?

Game designers brainstorm and implement ideas for games and then create an outline or blueprint. Working from the outline, a team of game designers works to fill in the details. You might be responsible for creating and developing characters, writing the dialog between characters, designing the background and layout of a game level, drawing maps or diagrams of different levels and testing other designers' work product. You might also have to describe characters' actions in language that clearly communicates your idea to a programmer and enables him or her to write the code that brings the character into existence.

What Could I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), multimedia artists and animators, who are similar to game designers, earned a median salary of $63,970 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Applications software developers, which cover another aspect of computer game creation, made a median annual salary of $98,260 in that same year. The projected employment growth for multimedia artists was about average, with a 6% growth predicted between 2014 and 2024. During that same decade, employment of applications software developers was expected to grow 19%.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Related to computer game designers, graphic designers also create digital art. Though their art is used by advertisers, magazines and other media outlets in publications and promotional material. These professional may also be tasked with creating the overall layout of publications or products. They typically need a bachelor's degree. Computer programming is another related career. individuals in this field also need to have an understanding of programming and they may program the instructional codes computers use to run application software, such as computer games. They typically need at least a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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