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Does video game design seem like a dream job? There are plenty of degree programs that can turn a video game guru into a video game creator.

Video Game Designer Career Info

If you have ever been sucked into a video game for hours on end, you have realized the appeal that draws millions to spend a pleasant afternoon in front of their televisions and monitors, video game controllers in hand. What could be better than playing a video game every day? Creating one.

It's obvious that video games are big business. So is the process of making them. The Entertainment Software Association found that 32,000 people were employed in video game making in 34 states, contributing to the bottom line of over $10 billion in sales per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How to become a video game designer

You typically need a bachelor's degree or a master's degree in design or a related major in order to become a video game designer. It's also good to build up a robust portfolio of your art and designs before graduating.

Video game designers are the dreamers who begin the process of creating a new game. They develop it from the ground up, including plot, characters and more. Then they work closely with programmers, artists, musicians, producers and others during the process to make certain the finished game is what they envisioned. Because of the wide range of people designers work with, excellent communication and leadership skills are essential. Video game designers will work closely with various teams on every step of the process, so designers must have a firm grasp of both the management and technical aspects of the job.

Video game designer schools offer instruction in many important elements of the job, including:

  • Animation
  • Computer programming
  • Software design
  • Graphics
  • Communication
  • English
  • Computer science

Designers might take courses in scripting languages and modeling programs. In addition to education, experience holds a great deal of weight as well. It is especially helpful if you have experience in other roles in video game creation, such as programming, art or quality assurance. Video game designers must also be intimately familiar with all video game consoles, controllers, emerging technologies and the hip, happening games that are in demand today.

Video game design schools

Though video game design doesn't have a formal education requirement for entry-level work, many employers prefer that applicants have at least a bachelor's degree in video game design or a related field. Students who want to learn how to design video games can find programs at a wide variety of schools. The profession offers numerous educational paths, including certification, associate, bachelor's and master's degree. Since video game design lends itself well to the virtual classroom, many schools offer the degree entirely online.

As the world of video games continues to boom, colleges and universities are taking note. In 2013, the Princeton Review and PC Gamer released their list of top schools for video game designers. At the top of the undergraduate list was University of Utah, followed closely by University of Southern California. Those two also graced the top of the graduate school list, followed by Drexel University in third place.

Creating video games for a living used to be the stuff of dreams. With a degree in video game design, those dreams are becoming reality for thousands of graduates who enter the workforce with games in their head and a controller in their hand.

Sources:

  1. HowStuffWorks, "How Becoming a Video Game Designer Works," Tim Crosby, http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/video-game-designer.htm
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Multimedia Artists and Animators," Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/multimedia-artists-and-animators.htm#tab-1
  3. The Princeton Review, "Top Video Game Design Press Release: The Princeton Review Names Top Undergrad and Grad Schools to Study Game Design for 2013," March 12, 2013, http://www.princetonreview.com/game-design-press-release.aspx
  4. Bureau of Labor Statistics,"Work for Play: Careers in video game development," Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Drew Liming and Dennis Vilorio, Fall 2011, http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/2011/fall/art01.pdf
  5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Working so others can play: Jobs in video game development," Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Olivia Crosby, Summer 2000, http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/2000/summer/art01.pdf
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