How Can I Learn Background Design for Game Environments?

Learn how to design backgrounds for video game environments through a bachelor's degree program in game design, digital art or computer science. Read on to find out more about this growing field of study. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Careers in Background Design for Game Environments

Modern video games combine the work of level designers and artists. Designers plan and shape the virtual spaces within games, while artists create the images and 3-D models that bring these scenes to life. These professionals work with each other and with programmers to create a unified style and direction for the game. The size and complexity of game production teams varies, and it's possible in a smaller team that your role could consist of both level design and art elements.

Important Facts About Video Game Design Studies

Online Availability Yes
Prerequisites For undergrad programs: High school diploma or equivalent and SAT/ACT scores
For graduate students: Bachelor's degree and typically a 3.0 GPA; some schools also require GRE scores
Common Courses Computer programming, game design, artificial intelligence, computer literacy, 3D animation
Possible Careers Artificial intelligence programmers, game mechanic designers, graphic artists, content designers, user interface programmers, digital designers
Median Salary (2018) $72,520 (for all multimedia artists and animators)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 8% growth (for all multimedia artists and animators)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

College Programs

You have multiple potential paths to learn the skills needed for video game background design. More colleges are creating programs specifically focused on game design, but broader degree programs in computer science, computer animation or fine arts can also provide sufficient training. Your choice of degree will depend partly on which role you would like to focus on.

Many programs in game design and game art have fully online options available. If you enroll in an online program, you can expect to complete the same courses as in the on-campus version, though you'll work with other students through online forums to complete projects and share work.

Bachelor's in Game Design

One way to learn the skills to become a video game background designer is through a bachelor's degree program in game design. In this program, you'll learn scriptwriting, 3-D modeling, animation and character creation. Since designers need to understand the technical aspects of game development in order to know what designs are technically feasible to implement, you can also expect to study programming languages and game engine development.

Bachelor's in Digital Art

Game designers typically have a mix of skills in traditional drawing and painting as well as digital image editing and 3-D modeling. You can develop this expertise in a bachelor's degree program in digital art. Such programs cover topics relevant to game development, film and animation. You'll also learn about color theory, audio technology, 2-D and 3-D design, drawing and character design. Some programs require that you compose a portfolio or complete a final project.

Bachelor's in Computer Science

Rather than complete a game design or digital art program, you might choose to enroll in a general computer science program to learn some of the same foundational skills in programming and software development. Schools that don't offer game design as a major might still have individual courses in game design or game programming. You can choose these courses as electives to shape your curriculum toward a video game background design focus.

Gaining Personal Experience

For video game jobs, your personal experience in the field is often considered as important as your education. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that many aspiring game developers gain early experience through hobby work. If you're looking to become a level designer, you might create small games on your own or modifications for existing games, called mods. Artists can create demo reels and portfolios to provide examples of their abilities to potential employers. The BLS also suggests that college internships at game development studios can help you build experience and find contacts in the industry that could lead to permanent jobs.

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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