If you’ve ever wanted to make a living at your hobby, perhaps you are considering becoming a video game designer. Video game designers are usually part of a team that creates video games. They imagine the concepts, characters, setting, story, and game play. They work in concert with artists and programmers and interface with other key elements of the business side of the house such as marketing and engineering. Average annual salaries are over $70,000, enough to get you out of your mom’s basement.
You should have a high school diploma, but a four-year degree is preferred with a major in video game design or computer science. Even more important, you will need professional experience, which can be obtained initially through internships or co-ops. There are several certifications available, but no licenses or certifications are actually required to begin work.
There are courses in how to be a game designer, but the key skills are what matter: Creativity and the ability to tell a story and work as part of a team are intangibles that are best demonstrated through experience. Knowledge of programming languages, software, and 3D modeling programs can be verified through transcripts from courses you’ve taken. You will be working long hours seated and staring at a computer monitor, so you must have passion for video gaming.
The Path to a Career
If you are planning to work for a large game studio, you should have a bachelor’s degree. Serious college study with a major in video gaming, software development, or information technology is the best way to acquire those skills you can’t get at home. It provides your prospective employers with assurance that you have the appropriate background along with your core skills. A degree is no substitute for practical experience, but a formal course of study will often lead to the experience you need along with the certifications. It also goes without saying, the more advanced your degree, the more opportunities you may have.
Even if your school does not offer a degree in game design, you can get the necessary training from computer science, software development, or similar degree programs. The coursework for a game design program includes such subjects as 2D and 3D modeling and animation, level and interface design, storyboard rendering, drawing, and scripting.
Play the game
As obvious as this may sound, it is important that you also play video games. Lots of video games. You should be familiar with popular trends in the industry. Understanding advanced technology can be useful. Playing video games will also help you understand how games are structured and spark ideas for making improvements for when you start working on a game of your own.
If your school has one, join a game design club. This type of club can give you exposure to all facets of game production, which may be of use for future game designers.
There are many different types of designers, such as lead designer, level designer and content designer. Game designers have multiple responsibilities that may not immediately be obvious.