What are you most interested in?

Art & Design     O Game Concept     O Programming

VIDEO GAME DESIGN

Jump To

Education Requirements & Degrees
Careers in Video Game Design
Job Descriptions & Responsibilities
How to Become a Game Designer
Game Designer Salaries
Video Game Design Conferences
Video Game Design Software
Reading & Online Resources
Similar Careers to Game Design

Great video game design is the culmination of multiple creative disciplines all coming together to develop a user experience that’s entertaining, challenging and rewarding.

The best video games are well thought out with a high attention to detail. This requires multiple artistic talents and technical skills being applied throughout the design process to bring the vision to reality… or virtual reality.

These aspects are done by either a small team where everyone works on multiple areas, or larger teams where designers focus on individual aspects that utilize their specific skill set.

THE SCOOP

The video game design industry has been exploding over the past decade and shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, it’s considered to be an industry that is only in its infancy and is is currently out pacing the television and movie industries combined.

The salary for talented video game designers is quite high compared to other creative careers, but varies greatly depending on the position and the education attained. See the Video Game Designer Salary section for more details.

The level of education is becoming increasingly more important as the industry grows and more complex technology is used in the design process. Video game designers with a bachelor’s degree have great career options, as well as some of the highest job security in all the creative arts careers.

  Job Growth – Very High

  Annual Salary – 70k – 147K

  Training  – 3 year avg.

TRAINING & EDUCATION

  Video Game Development Degree

Education requirements for video game designers vary according to the desired game design job or specialty. There are many different video game design jobs, but for the education requirements they generally fall under three main disciplines; game designer, video game artist, and video game programmer.  

Your personal strengths and interests, career goals will determine which video game design training program is the best fit to get hired for the job you want. Below are the education requirements for the three main areas.

More

Education Requirements for Video Game Designers

Game designers often have to create a concept from scratch and develop an overarching theme. For this reason, a degree or certificate in game design or creative writing will be of great benefit and is considered essential for many jobs. See the Video Game Designer section for more details on the job description.

When considering a education program, look for courses such as game theory, game planning and strategy and game design project management. Even creative writing and storytelling courses are extremely helpful and may help you open doors with many game design teams and companies.

Often these courses can be all done from one college or institute, or by an online Video Game  Design school that specializes in modern applications.

If you’re considering a career with larger game design company, where you will be focusing primarily on the game concept and story, then having a well rounded education and bachelors degree will be needed to attain those top paying positions.

Education Requirements for Video Game Programmers

Video game programmers are often some of the highest paid positions in the games industry. However the the education are some of the most intense as well. There are a growing number of different technical disciplines that need to be mastered.

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 are a must.

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++.

Continuing education is not uncommon, as new technology and specialized fields such as 3d rendering are becoming more common in the game design process, as well as in other careers fields such as animation.

Education Requirements for Video Game Artist

There are a few different options when it comes to pursuing a career as a game artist, and the education requirements can vary more than the other 2 main areas if game design. Generally, a specialized 2-4 year game art degree is  common and desired, however a traditional art school degree is often acceptable, especially if a substantial degree of graphic design skill has been developed.

Video game artist often see a large carrer overlap with other industries such as animation, film and graphic design. For this reason, having a formal education with many disciplines open many different career opportunities.

Video game artists should have a solid understanding in traditional art techniques and principles, such as form, perspective & color theory especially if desiring to work with a company or large team.

The ability to effectively use modern graphic design & computer animation software, such as Adobe Flash, is a must and should also be included in your education.

  Video Game Design Colleges

There are many universities now offering courses that specifically aimed at video game design and animation. These two areas often overlap in education, as well as job opportunities.

When considering a university’s video game design programs, it’s important to have a clear view of what your career intentions are, while leaving open the opportuniteas to entertain other options.

Universities offer a more comprehensive education with multiple different…

More

specialized courses that apply to many creative fields. This offers a greatest flexibility when it comes to job opportunities in game design  as well as other creative fields.

A formal education from a university is also well viewed by larger, more prestigious game design companies and may help with getting a foot in the door.

Some universities have simply have programs and courses that apply to video game design, while others have whole departments dedicated to mastering the area of education. With universities that offer a more specialized courses or have a dedicated department, they often have job placement programs to help you get you career started after graduation. This is also the case with many specialized video game design academies and online video game design schools.

See our top video game design schools section to see our top pics and why we think there a good option for many different types of careers in the video game design industry.

  Online Video Game Design Schools

Specialized academies and online video game design courses have become more and more popular over recent years. There are many reasons and benefits to this approach for the right type of person.

Often, a more formal video game design education can be more expensive, and often contain courses that don’t directly apply to the game design industry. This is generally not the case with specialized academies and online schools, as their entire aim is to arm you with the most relevant skills in today’s marketplace.

When considering an online school that offers a certificate or degree…

More

it’s important to have good understanding of what direction you plan to go with you video game design career and if the school offers an adequate education.

Some online schools offer certifications that can be just enough to get started in the industry, or be adequate for  working with a smaller indy type game company, While other schools offer a comprehensive education that rivals that of traditional  universities.

Some specialized academies offer a hybrid approach with a formal classroom education and online courses as well. This can be great way to get started on your education online, then attend classes, or visa versa.

Online game schools require a larger degree of self discipline to stay on track, but also offer a greater degree of freedom in their scheduling and rate of completion. This can be extremely helpful, if working a job while attaining your education.

The other great thing about online schools is the ability to attend from anywhere in the world. This essentially means you don’t have to move to go a school that you want to attend. It also opens up many options when it starting to work with a game design company while furthering your education. In some cases it may possible to start with your career sooner than later if your skills are adequate and have a certification. Then, as you begin building your career, you can simultaneously further your education online with specialized courses and attain a degree over time.

It’s important to understand that while online video game schools offer more freedom, they also require more responsibility and discipline. If that’s a quality you have, then it’s a good option to consider.

  Best Video Game Design Schools

A video game designer is someone who utilizes several artistic talents, as well as finely-honed technical skills. In an exploding industry, such a video game design, the need for innovative, perceptive and qualified designers is at an all-time high. Find out what it takes to succeed in this leading-edge career.

A video game designer is someone who utilizes several artistic talents, as well as finely-honed technical skills. In an exploding industry, such a video game design, the need for innovative, perceptive and qualified designers is at an all-time high. Find out what it takes to succeed in this leading-edge career…

More

1. University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)

The University of Southern California, (USC), has a long and illustrious connection to the entertainment industry. Its proximity to Hollywood is why the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has always nominated at least one alumni every year since its creation in 1929. This, in conjunction with the fact that USC is the oldest west coast university, boasts an impressive $3.9 billion endowment, over 41,000 students, and is located in one of the world’s cultural epicenters, gives USC significant resources.

But it takes more than just a great university with much history and prestigious sister programs to build a successful, specialized program. A school also needs substantial offerings in the targeted area. USC offers 2 Bachelor and 2 Master’s level programs dedicated to Interactive Media and Game Design. Students focusing on design and production can pursue the Interactive Media & Games degrees through the school of Cinematic Arts, while those more concerned with the technical aspects of game development should choose the Computer Science (Games) degrees through the Viterbi School of Engineering.

USC also offers several official video game design minors. Students have the unique opportunity to network with peers at any other level within these programs. This makes the hands on experience and project development more than just class work, it is also a chance for team building and developing leadership skills.


57 Best Video Game Design Colleges

2. University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)

There is a reason why major game design companies like EA Sports call Salt Lake City home. The University of Utah’s Video Game Design program combines art orientated students and more technically minded ones in a program that simulates how actual video game design functions. Their students have access to a variety of valuable internship opportunities, and leave with experience similar to typical startup companies.

This is part of the reason why the Princeton Review ranked their undergraduate program 1st and their graduate program 2nd in game design. Undergraduate students average $72,000 annual incomes while their graduate kin start at an even more impressive $97,000. The school runs a highly respected summer program for high school students, and takes the time to interview every promising applicant. This is why the student body comes from such a wide range of nations, with students from India, Russia, China, Mexico, and Indonesia.


57 Best Video Game Design Colleges3. University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL)

The Interactive Entertainment Academy at the University of Central Florida is part of the school’s Center for Emerging Media. Entry into the Academy is more competitive in comparison to other creative media programs. Students are expected to have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, a minimum score of 300 on the GRE, a 3.0 GPA, and a portfolio that showcases their game development talent. Once selected for entry into the Academy, there are three major academic tracks from which to select: Art, Production, or Programming.

With a small 8:1 student to faculty ratio, students may expect a more personalized class experience and a project based gaming education. The Academy has partnered with numerous companies including Microsoft, Disney, Monster Media, and Lockheed Martin, to help form its curriculum. Princeton Review has ranked the Interactive Entertainment Academy as number one in 2016 for the best graduate game design program in the world.


57 Best Video Game Design Colleges

4. Carnegie Mellon (Pittsburgh, PA)

Carnegie Mellon University has long been known as one of America’s leading science schools. It has in recent years developed the Entertainment Technology Center. This program provides a two year master’s degree in Entertainment Technology offered jointly with the College of Fine Arts and the School of Computer Science, (both of which are top 10 programs in their own respective areas).

Students here have the opportunity to study under industry leaders such as Jess Schell, the first individual to receive the “Game Changer Award”. He is also famous for researching and building games that advance society through everything from helping people discover how proteins fold to teaching kids about HIV. The Entertainment Technology Center also runs a successful summer program for high school students, requires an industry internship, and uses a variety of team based projects to simulate the real world job market.


57 Best Video Game Design Colleges

5. DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, WA)

DigiPen is more than just another game design program. This school represents just how far the still developing game design industry has come. With substantial support from Nintendo, DigiPen began accepting students in 1994. It is a for-profit degree granting school that exclusively specializes in preparing students to enter the industry as skilled software developers, artists, designers, and computer engineers. The school has branch campuses in Spain, Singapore, and a partnership with Keimyung University in South Korea, in addition to its main campus based just outside of America’s game design hub in Seattle.

DigiPen offers both graduate and undergraduate degrees and runs a substantial k-12 summer program. Students can specialize in subsets of the field, such as real-time interactive simulation, engineering and sound design, digital art and animation, music and sound design, as well as general degrees in general computer science and digital arts. DigiPen has been at the forefront of game design since the dawn age of this commercial field, has spread to several continents, possesses historic ties to arguably the most well-known name in the gaming industry, and has every reason to believe it will continue to grow as the video game industry grows.

Like to be contacted by

3 of our favorite schools?

VIDEO GAME CAREERS

  Video Game Designer

A video game designer can be a general term that refers to someone involved in the game development process, or to a specific job in the industry.

The specific role of  a video game designer is different depending on the company and size of the project, but they are generally someone who utilizes several different artistic and has good understanding of the entire game development process.

A game designer may where many hats…

More +

Video Game Designer

A video game designer can be a general term that refers to someone involved in the game development process.

SCHOOL MATCH

More

from creating the initial game concept and storyboard, to overseeing the development process.

In larger projects, a video game designer may focus more on coordinate the different tasks and roles to make sure the project stays congruent in it’s design, as well as making sure the development process unfolds in a smooth and timely manner.

Read the the entire video game designer job description for a more detailed understanding of the different roles and responsibilities.

  Video Game Programmer

A video game designer can be a general term that refers to someone involved in the game development process, or to a specific job in the industry.

The specific role of  a video game designer is different depending on the company and size of the project, but they are generally someone who utilizes several different artistic and has good understanding of the entire game development process.

A game designer may where many hats…

More +

Video Game Programmer

A video game designer can be a general term that refers to someone involved in the game development process.

SCHOOL MATCH

More

from creating the initial game concept and storyboard, to overseeing the development process.

In larger projects, a video game designer may focus more on coordinate the different tasks and roles to make sure the project stays congruent in it’s design, as well as making sure the development process unfolds in a smooth and timely manner.

Read the the entire video game designer job description for a more detailed understanding of the different roles and responsibilities.

  Video Game Artist

A video game designer can be a general term that refers to someone involved in the game development process, or to a specific job in the industry.

The specific role of  a video game designer is different depending on the company and size of the project, but they are generally someone who utilizes several different artistic and has good understanding of the entire game development process.

A game designer may where many hats…

More +

Video Game Artist

A video game designer can be a general term that refers to someone involved in the game development process.

SCHOOL MATCH

More

from creating the initial game concept and storyboard, to overseeing the development process.

In larger projects, a video game designer may focus more on coordinate the different tasks and roles to make sure the project stays congruent in it’s design, as well as making sure the development process unfolds in a smooth and timely manner.

Read the the entire video game designer job description for a more detailed understanding of the different roles and responsibilities.

How To Become a Video Game Designer

A video game designer is someone who utilizes several artistic talents, as well as finely-honed technical skills.

In an exploding industry, such a video game design, the need for innovative, perceptive and qualified designers is at an all-time high. Find out what it takes to succeed in this leading-edge career.

  1. Determine what area of expertise you want to focus on.
  2. Request information from at least 3 schools.
  3. Get degree that applies to your field and niche.
  4. Build a portfolio with projects you have been involved in.
  5. Contact companies – often, the University will help with this.

A video game designer is someone who utilizes several artistic talents, as well as finely-honed technical skills.

In an exploding industry, such a video game design, the need for innovative, perceptive and qualified designers is at an all-time high. Find out what it takes to succeed in this leading-edge career.

A video game designer is someone who utilizes several artistic talents, as well as finely-honed technical skills. In an exploding industry, such a video game design, the need for innovative, perceptive and qualified designers is at an all-time high. Find out what it takes to succeed in this leading-edge career.

  1. Lead designer $81,000
  2. Game programmer $55,000+
  3. Game artist $42,000+
  4. Game animator $47,000+
  5. Quality assurance $32,000+
  6. Lead quality assurance $40,000+
  7. Software engineer $70,000+
  8. Game designer $55,000+
  9. Software developer $60,000+
  10. Game writer $44,000+
National Median Salaries for Video Game Developers in 2013

 

  • Senior software engineer $90,000
  • Game programmer $55,000
  • Lead programmer $70,000
  • Senior programmer $90,000
  • Technical director $60,000
  • Game artist $42,000
  • Game animator $47,000
  • Creative director $45-50,000
  • Lead designer $81,000
  • Executive producer $82,000
  • Quality assurance $32,000
  • Lead quality assurance $40,000
  • Audio engineer $65,000
  • Senior developer $90,000
  • Software engineer $70,000
  • Video game designer $55,000
  • Video game producer $75,000
  • Game software developer $60,000

 

  • Professional Profile: 3D Modeler
  • Professional Profile: Flash Animator
  • Professional Profile: Storyboard Artist
  • Professional Profile: Video Game Artist

 

Video Game Design Avg. Starting Salary Comparison

QA/Video Game Tester: $54,000

54%

QA/Video Game Tester: $54,000

54%

QA/Video Game Tester: $54,000

54%

QA/Video Game Tester: $54,000

54%

Conferences for Video Game Design

There currently are a number of conferences that apply to certain aspects of video game design & animation, plus a few that are solely focused on game development. Below are some of the most notable in the industry.

 

video game developer conferenceGDC (Game Developers Conference) 

gdconf.com

The GDC is the largest and most well known conference that is completely focused on game design and development. They hold annual conferences as well as some international events. This event has been going on for years  and has a growing number of aspects that apply to the video game design industry, from; learning opportunities, exhibitions, independent game competitions, and award ceremonies.

The GDC is a great place to learn, get the latest scoop on everything game design related, as well as have some fun and network with others in the industry.

 

E3 conferenceE3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo)

e3expo.com

E3 is considered to be the biggest gaming news expo of the year in North America.

It’s a 3 day event presented and organized by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), it is used by many developers and publishers for computer and video games and related products.

Formerly, the event was industry only, however now E3 is open to the public, issuing more than 15,000 general admittance passes for those who wanted to attend.

If you were considering attending just one event this for entertainment purposes, this one would be our recommendation.

 

Game Connection America eventGame Connection America

game-connection.com

Game Connection is more about creating a networking event where industry players meet & do business together. It’s been considered the deal making event for the video game industry since 2001.

It’s an international event where 2700+ developers, publishers, distributors and service providers come to find new partners and/or find new clients. The industry leading Game Connection matchmaking system, Let’s Meet enables attendees and exhibitors to organise meetings in advance of the event – optimising their time on-site.

I am text block. Click edit button to change this text.

Game Design Resources

There are now many online resources available when it comes to understanding different aspects of game design currently practiced in the industry. There are also a number of books available to share insights into the career of a video game designer.

Online Video Game Resources

Lynda.com offers a number of courses that apply to many of the arts and it’s a great place to get your feet wet.

Masterclass.com has some great courses that give an insight into how the top game designers come up and execute their ideas.

Pixel Prospector is a reference as far as game creation resources are concerned. This website offers a complete, free guide to marketing your game, as well as long lists of finely categorized resources.

Three Hundred Mechanics  is a website where Sean Howard shares his documents on 300 game concepts. In each entry, he shares his design process and ideas.

Similar Careers & Skill Set Overlap

In the creative arts, there are many skills and talents that apply to multiple areas and industries. This is why so many creatives focus on having a strong art education as foundation and then build specialized knowledge on top of that.

When it comes to video game developers, there are a many artistic and technical skills that are valuable in other areas. In fact, it’s not uncommon that where many game developers start out, is not where they stay… at least not completely.

Often, with creative project, project managers will scout out talent in related industries and share  information to recruit the right person for their needs.

Below is a short list of the most common careers that we see an overlap with, but there are many different smaller uncommon opportunities that also utilize the skills acquired in a video game design program.

Animation

Depending on your skill set, this could lean more on the art, or the technical side. Talented artist with a portfolio of great character or scene design are highly sought out by animation companies. These large projects that take a long term commitment, or small side projects that pay well for help with the design of an initial concept.

There is so much overlap with animation, that it’s not uncommon for game designers to switch back and forth between the industries. This is especially true when it comes to video game artists and 3d modelers.

Graphic Design

Many graphic design principles are often taught on the pathway to becoming a game designer. In fact, it’s difficult to be a great video game artist and designer without also being a great graphic artist. Graphic design often blends with animation as well, especially in the advertising industry.

Graphic design is everywhere, and the demand for great artists is high. For this  reason, it’s area that many creatives attain a supplementary income, especially when starting out.

Website Design

Great web design utilizes many of the same design principles taught in game design, graphic design and animation. Though the crossover with game development isn’t as strong as with graphic design, there are many opportunities available.

Web design is an area that is most commonly taken advantage of by those who are looking work while attending a school or university. This makes sense, as you get to hone your skill set and sense of design while making good money.

Special Effects

This is an area that overlaps with game developers that specialize more in the technical and programming aspects of game design. Movie and film projects often have large budgets, especially on films with CGI. With larger budgets, also comes great financial opportunities for those who can deliver the goods.

Video game programming overlaps with special effects in many regards including much of the software and  programming language used. This allows video game programmers the ability to take on high profile projects and make some big money in the process.

LATEST VIDEOS

THE TIME IS NOW!

READY TO LEARN?

Test title

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. U