Video Game Designer Education Requirements
What Does a Video Game Designer Do?
Video game designers represent a unique fusion of artist and programmer. They create the hottest new game titles in a variety of genres, including fantasy, sports, combat, education and fashion design. Some consider video game designers to be the highest evolution of the storyteller–professionals that engage us on both the intellectual and emotional levels.
Video Game Designer Requirements: Prerequisites
High school students who consider themselves aspiring video game designers should follow a college preparatory or technical track curriculum. Whenever possible, courses should include advanced mathematics, such as analytic geometry, linear algebra, trigonometry and calculus. Computer programming classes, writing and liberal arts are also important. Most colleges and universities require you to take the SAT or ACT prior to admission.
A college curriculum meant to meet video game designer requirements usually blends computer and game design theory with contemporary programming languages. As you choose an undergraduate or graduate degree program that will meet entry or mid-level professional video game designer requirements, there are several approaches you can take. You can pursue a degree in computer programming, computer science, art and design or visual communications with an emphasis in video game design.
You can also take the more lucrative computer programming route, by learning C and C++, as well as at least one assembly language. Other courses you’ll want to take during a computer programming degree include:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) programming
- Graphical User Interface (GUI)
- Environmental process engineering
- Behaviors and effects engineering
Project management and team collaboration are other important skills to work on during your studies.
Video Game Designer Education Requirements: Degrees and Certifications
Candidates with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer programming, computer science or design with a video game concentration will be best prepared to enter the field. Computer certifications, such as Java, C++ and Flash are also helpful. Once you are in college, an internship in video game design or programming is worth pursuing as it can help you build your reel and possibly lead to that first job.
A demo reel or design portfolio is an important element that employers look for in would-be video game designers. Reels should show evidence of scenes, levels or complete games that you’ve designed or contributed to as a team member. A portfolio is appropriate for those who want to enter the field as artists, animators or 3-D modelers. Specific video game designer requirements vary depending on the company or internship to which you are applying. Find out the requirements well in advance of application time, so that you can assemble the correct materials and put your best foot forward.
Video Game Designer Career Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are many types of opportunities open to applicants seeking jobs in video game design:
- Game designers oversee every nuance that makes a video game engaging
- Artists sketch, model and develop characters and settings
- Sound designers compose the music that accompanies the game
- Programmers translate this artistry into a playable game
- Game testers help the team iron out kinks before a game launches
As of May 2009, the BLS reports that the median salary for computer and software engineers was $85,430, while software publishers made slightly more at $87,710. The bottom 10 percent of computer and software engineers earned a median of $57,810, while the top 10 percent made a median of $135,780. In contrast, the median salary for graphic designers who worked on computer system design in 2009 was $47,820. The bottom 10 percent earned $26,100, while the top 10 percent made a median of $74,660.
To learn more about video game designer requirements, professional opportunities, internships and conferences, the Digital Games Research Association, Entertainment Software Association and the International Game Developers Association are good professional organizations to explore.