Getting Started: What to Know
A video game designer creates the design and layout of a game. Video game design is a fun career path, but it is also very competitive. To secure a position as a junior designer, you will need to set yourself apart from the rest.
Designers vs Developers
You need to understand the difference between a video game designer and a developer. Game developers and designers work very closely with each other. A video game designer is responsible for the look of the game. They create the characters, storylines, levels, etc. On the other hand, a video game developer brings the designer’s ideas to life using code.
A video game designer can work on an entire game or a specific aspect of a game. A video game designer can create many games, including mobile games, computer games and multiplayer online games.
What Does a Video Game Designer Do?
Some of the duties and responsibilities of video game designers include:
- Creating imaginative games for educational or recreational purposes.
- Coming up with and designing new characters, settings, stories and rules for a game.
- Doing quality control.
- Pitching new game ideas to clients.
- Devising puzzles, challenges and missions to be encountered during a game.
- Providing feedback to designers and other members of the team.
- Fine-tuning aspects of the game to ensure players have the best experience.
- Creating a prototype of new games.
- Managing multiple projects and teams.
- Keeping track of industry trends and best practices.
Steps To Become a Video Game Designer
There is no one path to becoming a video game designer. Below are some steps you can follow to become a designer.
Step 1: Obtaining a High School Diploma
Having a GED is the most basic qualification for becoming a video game designer. It may be best if you can take graphic design and computer coding classes.
If you plan to go to university, try to get a high GPA to get into the best college possible. Strive to get high SAT scores. Research positions in your desired company to see if they require a bachelor’s degree.
Step 2: Apply To Join a Program
After getting a GED, research relevant institutions that offer the degree you want to take and decide which one is best for you. Once you decide, apply to join the program of your choice.
Step 3: Obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree
Most professionals have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. Lessons include 2D and 3D animation, programming languages and software engineering. Some colleges have a video game design program.
Some of the courses you can take include mathematics, logic, computer science, game design and practical programming. To be a good designer, you need to understand the work developers are doing so you can meet their specifications.
Computer science involves understanding everything about computers. You will learn about algorithms, input and output, programming languages and operating systems. Learning about how computers work will help you when designing a game, and you won’t have unreasonable expectations for your developers.
The most important part of the game design course is the part about how to design a game. You will learn about structure, game logic, storyboarding and other aspects of designing a game. This course will teach you game design, allowing you to efficiently run a game design team and become a valuable team member.
Occasionally, a designer may be asked to help develop some aspects of the game. A programming course will ensure that this transition between designer and developer happens smoothly.
Step 4: Completing an Internship
It would be best to complete a few internships while still in university. An internship allows you to get on-the-job training and acquire some much-needed skills. You also get to network with a few industry professionals, making it easier to get a job once you graduate.
Step 5: Get Experience
Video game design can be a competitive field, so it is essential to start working as soon as you finish school. It is possible to get hired as a junior designer for a small company, but it is more likely that you will get employment in a related field. Working in a related field can help you to build your portfolio.
On the other hand, you could develop a few of your own games to get experience on your terms. You can also seek some volunteer opportunities to sharpen your skills.
How Much Does It Cost?
A bachelor’s degree in video design in a public university costs $7,000 to 25,000 if you are in the state and $25,000 to $31,000 if you are out of the state. For a private university, the tuition cost ranges anywhere from $52,000 to $57,000.
How Much Can You Make, on Average?
Video game designers in the U.S. earn anywhere between $21,413 and $575,000. San Francisco has the highest average salary for video game designers.
- Video game designers are creative. Coming up with new ideas for a game, and developing characters, storylines and gameplay requires a lot of innovation.
- Video game designers are usually curious people. Beyond being creative, a sense of curiosity is important for video game designers. Curiosity can lead to unique thinking and revolutionary games that provide players with enjoyment and fulfillment.
- Video game designers are patient. Making a good game can be a time-consuming process. Game designers need the patienceto work efficiently with team members.
- A video game designer has a passion for video games. Without passion, you may end up failing to create innovative video games.
- Video game design involves creating a narrative that players will play. Designers need to be able to capture the player’s attention with their story and ensure that the narrative moves in a way that feels natural.
- A designer can work well with others. If you cannot play well with others, you may find it difficult to develop the game. There are usually many team members dedicated to different aspects of the game.
- The gaming industry is not just made up of programmers and artists. Video game designers are adaptable. Being bad at one drawing does not mean that you cannot have a successful career in gaming.
- Video game designers need to be persistent. Designing a game can be a tiring process, but also fulfilling. You have to be persistent because if you don’t, you may burn out.
- Programming knowledge: You don’t need to become an expert in this area, but a video game designer needs to understand coding to some degree. Designers also need to understand the mode in which the player will be playing the game. The game will look different on a tv screen than on a cell phone.
- Knowledge of relevant software: Players tend to judge a game based on the animation and graphics quality. You can look for courses on in animation and graphics to help sharpen your skills.
- Communication skills: The ability to communicate clearly with your audience is essential for success. You should be able to communicate your message effectively. Video games reach many people, and therefore, your message will reach many people.
- Critical thinking skills: Designing a video game involves a lot of strategizing. You need to approach even the simplest game with a critical thinking outlook.
- Time management skills: A video game designer should be able to meet deadlines to ensure each game is completed on time. If you fail to do your part, it doesn’t just affect you. This is where time management is essential.
Educational Paths to Video Game Design
- High school diploma: You can get your GED and start working immediately. However, if you take this path, you’ll need to work for several years to become eligible for high-paying jobs.
- Earning a bachelor’s degree: This is the route that most designers decide to take. Make sure that the program you choose has programming and design.
- Earning a master’s degree: Most people do not get a master’s degree unless they want to get hired by top-performing companies. You will need to get your bachelor’s degree before getting your master’s. A master’s degree could help you get hired for positions that require several years of experience.
- Boot camp: Boot camps are intensive video game programming and design programs. You can decide not to go to a bachelor’s degree program and go through a boot camp. There are many boot camps available, and they usually last for a few weeks, while others last for months.
Finally, while pursuing a video designer career, self-initiative is key. There are many resources online for people who want to learn how to design video games at their own pace.
With approximately 300,000 video game designers in the United States, the job market for video game design is expected to grow by 10% between 2022 and 2030. The cities with the most video game design opportunities are San Francisco, Austin, Seattle and Los Angeles.