Careers in Video Game Design

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in video game design. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and job outlook information. Schools offering Game Production degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Video Gamer Designer?

A career in video game design includes workers such as developers, testers, artists, sound designers, programmers, and publishers. These professionals collaborate in order to put together a successful video game. For instance, artists and animators bring action and characters to life. On the other hand, programmers are required to do the coding necessary to create the background and animation. Additionally, broadcast and sound engineers are vital to rendering sound, music, and dialogue into a smooth working game.

The chart below provides an overview for three of the most common careers in this field.

Multimedia Artist/Animator Computer Programmer Broadcast/Sound Engineer Technician
Degree Required Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Postsecondary nondegree award or Associate's degree
Education Field of Study Computer graphics, art Computer science Math, science
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6%* -8%* 7%*
Median Salary (2015) $63,970* $79,530* $53,330* (for sound engineering technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Different Careers in Video Game Design?

Each person working on the development of a video game makes up a design team, and all members of the team play an important role in taking a game from an idea to a finished product that can be released for sale to the public. Pre-production work could include a group cooperative that involves brainstorming ideas and concepts. Production merges the fields of design, programming and project management. When a game is complete, testers and quality control workers take over before passing the finished product to marketing staff.

What Is the Responsibility For Each of These Professions?

Game designers develop the story, theme, gameplay, rules and other basic aspects of a video game. Writers get involved in creating the written portions of a video game, including dialogue, manuals and other text included in the game. Artists are responsible for designing all of the characters, graphics, and animation for a video game.

A programmer or engineer takes the ideas developed by the video game design team and makes them come to life in a real, playable game by developing the scripts and technical aspects of the game. Sound designers put together the music and sound effects of a video game. They may have to create original scores, mix music or merge sounds to create unique sound effects.

A producer manages the game design team, monitors the progress of the game development, creates the budget and supervises the creation process from start to finish. A tester plays the games, looking for errors in programming, function, sound or animation, and writes reports so the bugs can be fixed. Testers could also offer suggestions on improving the game and give their opinions on new concepts and ideas for future games.

What Are the Requirements for These Careers?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most pre-production and production workers need a bachelor's degree (www.bls.gov) To be a game designer you usually need prior experience in game testing, game art creation or other experience on a video game design team. You might need technical skills in computer programming that help you to determine realistic ideas and concepts. Some academic fields of study for game designers include art, English or computer science.

As a game writer, you need writing skills. It might help to have experience as a published writer and show your work to potential employers with a portfolio. You don't need to have to have a degree, but according to a report published by the BLS, many game writers hold a degree in English, writing or communications.

The BLS further stated that game artists usually major in animation, industrial design, graphic design, drawing or art. You should have a portfolio of your work to show employers and have published work experience. Some degree majors include projects and internship opportunities designed to help you build a professional portfolio.

As a game programmer, you need a strong computer background. You must understand computer languages and have the ability to read and write computer code for at least one platform. The BLS stated that a computer science, programming or video game development major was most beneficial if you're interested in this aspect of the process.

To be a video game sound designer, you need to have a background in music. You should be creative and understand how to blend and mix unique sound effects that fit the game. Several schools offer bachelor's degrees in music and video game sound effects design.

A degree in business management or administration is usually the most relevant for video game producers. As a producer, you must be able to manage all facets of a team and a project. You need to have skills in accounting, marketing, team building and a basic understanding of the video game design process.

Game testers are usually entry-level members of the design team, temporary workers or volunteers. You don't need formal education, but employers expect you to have significant gaming experience, a basic understanding of how games work and enough skill to be able to test all of a game's levels. Having experience in video games development could give you an edge over the competition since it shows proof that you understand the creation process.

What Salary Could I Earn?

In October 2016, PayScale.com reported video game designers earned a median salary of $58,894 per year, and technical writers in software development made $56,599 annually. The salary site further revealed producers for the video game industry earned a median salary of $70,485 in 2016.

The BLS specified the median salary for sound engineer technicians in 2015 was $53,330. Finally, PayScale.com estimated game testers were paid roughly $9.16 - $19.80 per hour in 2016.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Video game designers have a variety of alternative careers to choose from, for instance, a bachelor's degree is typically needed to become a computer and information systems manager (CISM), a graphic artist or a film and video editor. A CISM professional plans and directs computer projects for corporations or various educational institutions. Graphic designers, on the other hand, are employed to create web pages, layouts for magazines and newspapers and a variety of other media. Lastly, film and video editors use their artistic skills in editing analog film and digital videos. This profession typically needs personnel trained in the use of computer software for editing digital video and mixing the footage with dialogue, sound and other effects.

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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