Game Design is a rapidly growing field as technology advances. These designers help develop, code and create games that are used for educational and recreational purposes. Games may be simple and easy to play or wildly successful games that are often part of a lasting franchise. Some game designers may go on to other fields such as 3D animation used to create movies or in other capacities such as reconstructive modeling.
Within the field of game design, salaries can vary greatly due to a number of factors such as length of time in the field, success with release of games, company worked for and skills available. On average, game designers can make approximately $55,000 annually at entry levels, quickly rising to nearly $80,000 after just three to five years of experience within the field. After at least six years in the industry, salaries that top $100,000 are possible, with some earning up to $195,000 per year. Salaries for game designers that reach that high are often employed by top companies and have achieved a very high level of success.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Game Designer is a title than can be applied to a number of positions within the industry. Designers are often responsible for a number of tasks at entry levels but will often hone their skills to a specialization once they have become established in their field. Examples of this include level designers, where the game designer will focus on creating a specific level, game artists who are responsible for the look and feel of the game or programmers who control how characters or objects in the game can be used or function. The various specializations within game design also impact salary and advancement within the industry.
This field is constantly expanding and jobs are constantly being created as companies continue to be created. Job stability within the game design industry can be challenging to attain as companies may collapse and positions within top companies are very hotly sought after. Some companies may seek out new talent in order to hire them when they are fresh from education and current on new technology and trends while others may prefer to only hire seasoned veterans who have a number of accomplishments on their resume.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Education Requirements
Training for game design often begins with a passion for video games. Those who enter this profession have often spent years playing video games and have a desire to create better games. Positions in quality assurance (often called QA) are often a good place for those desiring a game design career to begin as it establishes the beginnings of experience within the industry.
Many technical schools offer degrees tailored to game design while some art schools offer related courses that cater to those who choose to focus on the artistic side of game design. Dedicated programs that lead to a degree in game design often have a comprehensive course load that covers the business management aspect of design as well as the various components of building a game. This may include programming, sound design, technical planning or art design. Those who choose to work on the development of games may also have a background in creative writing in order to help manage the conceptual stages of game design.
Educational requirements for game design may be as little as an associate’s degree but some companies may ask for at least a bachelor’s degree. In some cases, additional education or certification may be necessary in order to keep current with advancing technology within the field. Those specializing in the artistic aspects of game design may find that a degree or certification in art or multi-media art may be helpful in creating a career in game design.
The training gained from game design can also be applied to other fields such as forensics reconstruction, clothing or furniture design or software development. This is due to the often comprehensive but wide spread education that a degree in game design can provide. Not all colleges may offer a dedicated program so courses may be less formal.
Certifications for game design are primarily attained by completing an accredited degree program through a college or technical school. While a degree is important in achieving a career in game design, some certifications may be of use. Those who focus on the more technical or programming side of game design may find that being certified in the various software used can help them to find positions or keep them current on the software or techniques used. Ongoing education and certification is also often desired among game designers.
Several professional associations have formed around game design and offer a range of benefits or help to those who join. These associations include but are not limited to:
- International Game Developers Association
- The Entertainment Software Association
Local associations may also exist depending on the region or state the game designer lives in. These can be found either through the game design company, internet searches or word of mouth.