For those who are addicted to playing video games, being a video game designer may sound like a dream job.
And while planning, designing and creating new video games for others to enjoy might be fun, it also is a lot of hard work. There is more to working in the field than enjoying video games. Video game designers must be creative, persistent and above all else, patient. Video games are not created overnight. From conception to completion, it can be a years-long process.
Designing video games involves more than great ideas. It also requires the kind of programming and technical skills that generally must be learned through a specialized school. There are a number of programs available for this kind of specialized training.
- Associate of Video Game Design: While each program may call their associate-level degree something slightly different, the end result is the same. Associate degree programs require two years of full-time schooling and include courses such as creative concepts, using interactive media, computer programming/software, animation, storytelling and character development.
- Bachelor Degree in Video Game Design: This four-year degree program will handle all of the same basic concepts taught at the associate-degree level, with more detail on the programming and technology aspects of training. Students will learn about all forms of media in which video games can be developed, including cell phones, computers and game systems. More focus will be placed on game economics and usability, as well as the societal, social and cultural impact of the electronic gaming industry.
- Master Degree in Video Game Design: Graduate degrees generally take an additional two years of schooling beyond a bachelor degree. In addition to the basics of video game design taught in undergraduate degree programs, master-level degree students also will explore the management and financial side of the video game industry. They will receive training that can enable them to manage a team of video-game designers by learning the key components of teamwork and leadership, project development, marketing, communications and prototyping.
Unlike with other art-related programs, there is no official accrediting agency for video game design schools. However, the Princeton Review issued a list of what it considers to be the best-rated video game design schools in the nation in March 2013. The publication based its rankings on a survey it conducted in 2012-2013 of 150 programs in the United States and Canada. The top 15 programs named in the review are: University of Utah,University of Southern California, DigiPen Institute of Technology, Rochester Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Drexel University, Shawnee State University, Savannah College of Art and Design, The Art Institute of Vancouver, Michigan State University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Becker College, New England Institute of Technology and North Carolina State University.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for this industry is expected to grow by only 8 percent over the next decade,which is slower than the growth rate for other business and industry.
Areas of video game design which are expected to continue to be in demand are that of animation and visual special effects. With consumers demanding more realistic images and effects in games, the trained professionals who can make that happen will be in higher demand. The median annual wage for these kinds of careers is $58,510.