How to Become a Video Game Designer

Being a video game designer is more than just a childhood dream; it’s a fast-growing profession that involves both talent and skill. Video game designers work hard to bring video game ideas to life, and they have an extraordinary amount of freedom within their profession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a video game designer will usually make a median of $81,140 a year. Those within the video game profession can look forward to a lot of mobility as they grow and learn more about the trade.

Bachelor's Degree
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Video Game Designer Do?

Video game designers focus on developing the core mechanics for a video game. A video game designer could potentially develop the mechanics and requirements for a smartphone game, video game console game or computer console. 3D games and 2D games will have different challenges and technology, but the overall design process will usually be similar. Video game designers often have skills in both art and programming, and can contribute to multiple areas of the video game development process.

A video game designer will often begin by directing concept art. Concept art will often be done by specialized concept artists which are skilled in understanding the needs of the video game developer and turning them into visual art. The video game designer will need to determine all the assets needed for the game and the way the game will work. Video game designers sometimes operate entirely on their own and create their own games from scratch. These are independent game designers, and they sometimes produce their own games for public consumption.

How Do You Become a Video Game Designer?

Many video game designers are self-trained, but the fastest path to becoming a video game designer is to obtain a degree. There are Associate’s Degree programs for video game design that are accessible completely online, as well as courses through trade schools and community colleges. There are also Bachelor’s Degree design programs for those that are interested in learning more about the industry, but it usually isn’t essential to acquiring a position.

A game designer will usually need to present a portfolio of their work when trying to procure a position with a game company. A portfolio is especially useful for those that do not have any formal training. Those that are interested in securing a positionwith one of the larger video game companies may want to independently create their own video game as a proof of their skill. Video game designers can also work with mod systems to create their own game through a framework provided by another game development kit.

How Do You Advance as a Video Game Designer?

Video game designers work with many of the same programming languages that other programmers do. Video game designers skilled in 3D art can make a movie into animated films, or they can directly sell their art assets, while video game designers that are purely programmers will be able to move into other programming fields. According to O*Net Online, the field of computer programming has relatively fast growth as compared to video game design, which means it can easily be moved into for those that are looking for a different field with different opportunities.

As with all talent-oriented fields, video game designers advance within the industry through successful projects. The more successful projects a video game designer works on, the larger salary they will be able to command. Very successful video game designers will be able to open their own design studios.

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