Game Art and Design: Career and Salary Facts

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

What Kind of Career Is Available For Game Artists and Designers?

Some people have a talent for sketching characters as well as a love for computer games. A great career could combine these interests as a gaming artist and designer. Artists are needed to design characters, animate backgrounds and layouts, and color everything to meet the theme of the team's designs. These jobs allow you to use your creative skills with video and computers to build the next successful digital game. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Computer graphics, art
Key Skills 3-D imaging, computer programming, game production
Job Growth (2014-2024) 6% (for multimedia artists and animators)*
Median Salary (2015) $63,970 (for multimedia artists and animators)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is Game Art and Design?

Game art and design jobs involve working in the design-end of the video and computer game industry creating characters, backgrounds, plots and other elements found in video games. Many different people work together to create a video game, and the art and design staff is an integral part of that team. Designers create maps and outline every detail of the game's virtual world.

As a game designer, you'll work to make a game fun, compelling and interesting to the players. Using the game design outline, you'll visually represent, through textures and 3-D imaging, the game's plot and characters. Game art and design jobs are conceptual, so you'll need to be aware of the technology that goes into bringing visual concepts to life, as well as programming basics.

What Skills Do I Need?

Game designers and artists need to have a creative mind. Your original ideas will be the basis for an entire video game, so you should be able to draw inspiration from your surroundings, as well as from a solid background in the arts. You must be able to communicate well with a team; your coworkers need to understand your concepts in order to bring them to life. Technical skills such as 3-D imaging and computer programming are essential for designers and artists. Even if you're not writing the code for the game, you'll need to understand how game production works so you can be helpful to the team during each step of the process.

What Education Do I Need?

Most people working in game art and design hold a degree or have formal training. Common undergraduate degree programs for game designers include computer graphics and art. There are also undergraduate and graduate programs specifically in game art and design that combine visual art training with the computer science needed in the video game industry. Coursework can include character animation, 3-D modeling, figure drawing, texturing and design patterns. These programs are offered both on-campus and online by a variety of public and private schools.

How Much Can I Expect to Make?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in May 2015, multimedia artists and animators in general earned a median salary of $63,970, while those working in the video industry in 2010 earned between $49,000 - $107,000 annually (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, workers in the software publishing industry, which includes video game designers, would see an employment increase of 17% between 2014 and 2024. This faster-than-average growth would be related in part to an increased use of mobile technology.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are a variety of careers in video game artistry and design. With a bachelor's degree, you could become a computer and information systems manager (CISM) or a graphic artist. CISM professionals plan and direct digital projects. An alternative field might be in graphic design. Employers hire digital artists to design pages and layouts for online magazines and newspapers and other media. A bachelor's is still needed for this kind of work. Computer programming is another career arena that requires a bachelor's. This work allows you to put your coding skills to good use working on programs, applications or fixing bad code.

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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