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Game design is an area of study and practice associated with the creation of games, generally computer and video games, through various means and methods. Individuals in this field may work as artists, programmers, content designers, and more. The field has grown increasingly complex over subsequent generations requiring more and more education.
Education and Schools
Individuals seeking an education in video game design may do so through a variety of options, though generally will seek schools that offer specialized programs in the field. Individuals will learn about the various aspects of game development, working individually and with others in order to create working prototypes, tests, and playable demos in order to demonstrate understanding and skill. Students will learn to use various programs and computers in order to realize their designs and to implement their ideas.
A curriculum may include:
- Game Physics
- Level Design
- Game Development and Pipelines
- Engines and Environment Building
- Design Theory and Genres
Schools that provide and education in video game design should be up to date in terms of their software and hardware, providing an environment that can provide a relevant and current education. Schools that have relationships with video game studios, developers and publishers are generally preferable as they allow for work experience prior to graduating, as well as possible employment for those who complete their program.
In a recent survey by the U.S. Department of Labor, game designers across the country provided insight into their work and core skills. The most relevant data to come from the survey is the latent skills of a game designer and the technology skills required to perform the job at a high level. Below you will find a summary of the most relevant skills:
Top Technology Skills of a Game Designer
- Development Environment Software - examples include Adobe ActionScript, C, Unity, DirectMedia Layer SDL
- Graphical User Interface Development Software - GUI and Microsoft Expression Blend
- Graphics and Photo Imaging Software - PhotoShop, Visio, OpenGL
- Component or Object Oriented Software - C++, C#, Perl, Python
- Video Creating & Editing Software - Adobe AfterEffect, Autodesk 3Ds Max
Top Skills of a Game Designer
- Programming - includes writing computer programs, applications, and software for a variety of purposes.
- Active Listening - the ability to provide someone your undivided attention to ensure directions are clear and communication is clean.
- Complex Problem Solving - identifying and synthesizing disparate information to arrive at workable solutions for the team and organization.
- Critical Thinking - leveraging reason and logic to draw viable conclusions to problems that exist with known and unknown information.
- Reading Comprehension - carefully reading instructions and effectively process the information in an effort to translate it into actionable steps.
Online Schools Other Students Requested Information From:
The median annual income for a game designer is $85,510 which translates to $41.59 per hour. There currently approximately 233,000 professional game designers and animators in the United States and jobs are expected to see around 37,700 job openings in the coming decade. A recent survey by the BLS reveals that nearly half of all game designers and animators are self-employed working on a contract basis or on-demand basis for larger companies. Approximately 57% of game designers have a bachelor's degree and nearly 20% of game designers have earned an associate's degree.
Job titles for game designers with a college degree include a number of options depending on the organization and customer demand. The most common jobs for game designers include:
- Design Director
- Game Designer
- Creative Director
- Lead Game Designer
- Lead Designer
- World Designer
- Senior Game Designer
The video game industry has exceed the film industry as one of the most profitable and fastest growing in the world. Production of games from independent developers to 300 plus development teams exist, working to provide new and engaging game ideas. Individuals should expect to see employment growth greater than the national average and career opportunities abound over the next decade as new methods of development and distribution advance. This, in turn, will foster diverse platforms allowing for vocational options for educated game designers across the country.