Video Game Designer

Game Designers merge creativity, technical skills and a passion for gaming to create cutting-edge games.

Video Game Designer Required EducationIf you love gaming, and have a desire to learn the latest programming, art and media production skills, then video game designer is the career path for you. Depending on your interests and employment goals, the video game design job market offers a wealth of opportunities. According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, video game designer employment will skyrocket 19% this decade, placing it among the fastest growing careers in America.
Most video game designer jobs fall into one of three disciplines: Game Artist, Game Designer or Game Programmer. The game design career track you choose will determine your daily activities and responsibilities, as well as the skills and education requirements to get hired. Learn about video game designer skills by discipline below.
All video game designers spend a lot of time in the classroom - or virtual classroom for online students - learning new skills to keep up with the gaming industry's rapidly evolving technologies, trends and emerging platforms. However, with hard work and intense training comes great rewards -- most video game designers with 6+ years of experience earn over $100,000 per year, according to Game Developer Magazine's 2012 Salary Survey.

Video Game Designer Skills & Responsibilities

In-demand skill sets and day-to-day activities for Video Game Designers include the following. Game designers:
  • Devise the missions, challenges and puzzles that will be encountered in game play.
  • Create narrative features, such as story-lines, role-play mechanics and character bios.
  • Conduct periodic design reviews throughout the video game development timeline.
  • Collaborate with artists and sound engineers to achieve the desired audio/visual style.
  • Plan games using screenshot mockups, gameplay flowcharts and other visual devices.
  • Maintain design level documentation, including mechanics, guidelines and mission outlines.
  • Work closely with game programmers and artists to ensure that the design is being followed.
Sought-after skills and typical responsibilities for Video Game Artists include the following: Video game artists:
  • Are responsible for the aesthetics (or visual style) of video games and simulations.
  • Are skilled in traditional art concepts and techniques, such as line, form and color theory.
  • Design the artwork for all visual game aspects, such as characters, weapons and vehicles.
  • Use 2D/3D computer animation software to mockup and animate video game levels and worlds.
  • Some game artists use motion-capture software to incorporate live-action actors into the video game.
  • Collaborate with game programmers and designers to ensure finished product is consistent with original artwork.
Marketable skill sets and daily activities for Video Game Programmers include the following. Game programmers:
  • Are fluent in the popular video game development programming languages, such as Java, C and C++.
  • Develop the artificial intelligence (AI) that dictates reactions of computer-controlled elements.
  • Write and fine-tune precise computer code that control the difficulty level of a video game.
  • Develop the code that enables multiplayer gameplay over a network, such as Xbox Live.
  • Develop game physics, which controls how objects interact within the video game environment.
  • Work closely with game artists and designers to accurately incorporate their visions into the game.

Video Game Designer Education Requirements

Video game designer education requirements 
vary according to your game design job specialty. Game design training programs focus on three main disciplines - design, art, and programming. Your personal interests, passions and employment goals will determine which video game design training program is the best fit to get hired for the job you want. Here is a breakdown of video game designer education requirements by game design specialty:

Video Game Designer
 A college degree or certificate in game design or creative writing will help you get hired as a video game designer. Skills to look for in a video game designer education program include game theory, storytelling & storyboarding, game planning and strategy, creative content writing, brainstorming & creative thinking, and game design project management.
Video Game Programmer 
For game design programming jobs, the education requirement is typically a bachelor's degree in video game development, computer science, software engineering, mobile application development, game & simulation programming, or a similar programming-focused area of study. Video game programmers should be fluent in the object-oriented programming (OOP) languages commonly used in video game design, such as Java, C and C++.
Video Game Artist 
Education requirements for game art jobs ideally include a specialized 2- or 4-year game art degree, however a traditional art school degree is acceptable in many cases. Video game artists must first master traditional art techniques and principles, such as form, perspective & color theory, before they can apply these skills to game elements like characters & environments. A prospective video game artist's most crucial asset is his or her design portfolio; the stronger and more relevant your portfolio, the less you will have to rely on your formal education to land the job. The ability to effectively use modern graphic design & computer animation software, such as Adobe Flash, will also help you get hired as a video game artist.
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