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What Will I Learn As a Video Game Design Major?

Playing games isn't just a pastime anymore. As a video game design major, you can enhance your artistic talents with technical know-how (or vice versa) to prepare for a job in the interactive multimedia industry.

Learning Video Game Design

Video game design is a growing field that combines artistic abilities with computer skills. Video games are used for both entertainment and non-entertainment purposes, such as in education or military training. Video game designers often work within a team to develop storylines, create images and program software.

Important Facts About Video Game Design Programs

Online Availability Yes
Prerequisites For future freshmen: 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, 3-D animation
Possible Careers Interface designers, game designers, graphic artists, web designers, UI/UX designers, concept artists
Median Salary (2020)* $77,200 (video game designers)
Job Outlook (2019-2029)** 22% (software developers); 4% (multimedia artists and animators)

Source: *O*Net Online , **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Video Game Design Degree Programs

Degree programs in video game design and interactive media are available at the undergraduate level in either a 2-year associate's or a 4-year bachelor's program. As you progress through a video game design major, you're encouraged to build a portfolio of completed work. A developed portfolio might assist you in acquiring an entry-level job in the industry.

Art and Creative Skills

Video game design curricula often include traditional art courses. In these courses, you may learn drawing, illustration, color theory and art history. Additionally, 3-D modeling or sculpting classes might be included in the curriculum. The creation of 3-D models or clay structures is used in conjunction with the computer side of video game design.

Computer Programming and Concepts

Throughout a video game design program, you're introduced to industry-standard software, including Maya, Adobe Photoshop and Flash. Additionally, you're likely to encounter programming coursework covering languages in C++, Java and Action Script.

Communication and Design Fundamentals

Design courses bring together the art and computer sides of the program by teaching you how to develop 2-D and 3-D digital models and user-interaction elements. Design classes also cover topics in pre-production, storyboarding and simulated world creation. You might also encounter writing-intensive coursework, such as script or fiction writing, as well as a foundation course in sound design.

Career Outlook

For the 10-year period of 2096-2029, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) didn't report a job outlook specifically on video game designers but did report an anticipated growth of 4% in employment opportunities for multimedia artists and animators, and 22% growth for software developers (www.bls.gov). The BLS indicated this growth is driven by an increase in animated movies, video game use and mobile technologies. As of May 2020, video game designers, who fall under the category of computer occupations - all other, earned a median annual wage of $77,200 in 2020, according to the O*Net Online.