Most gamers receive satisfaction simply by immersing themselves in the fantasy world of their favorite characters, but then there are the more creative types that want to be more involved with the entire process—everything from character development, to action sequences, to developing new concepts for original video games. If you feel as though you can contribute something a little extra to the gaming world because you’re just booming with ideas and you have some artistic ability, then you may just be able to find a stellar career as a videogame designer for game consoles, smartphones, or the internet. But where to start? Below is a brief guideline on how to break into the gaming design industry.
Obtain the Proper Skills. There’s a lot more to becoming a videogame designer than having natural artistic talent an eye for a detail. You need to know how to create traditional story boards, how to utilize problem solving skills to fix technical glitches, and of course you need to know how to use the proper software and script language to help your ideas manifest to fruition. Thus, getting the proper formal training in graphic design with a concentration in videogame design, animation, industrial design or even webpage design is highly recommended. While an associate degree in the field is accepted, the market can be highly competitive thus a bachelor’s degree is preferred to increase your employment chances. That said, some of the more prestigious undergraduate schools with the best videogame design programs include:
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Savannah College of Art and Design
- DigiPen Institute of Technology
- Rochester Institute of Technology
- University of Mexico
Where are the Jobs? Like mentioned before although there are jobs available, competition can be hard. You’ll need to do your best to intern and network while in school. Then you’ll need to look into game maker companies and game testing units. You may even need to think on a more global scale for career opportunities—for example, Canada’s game industry is booming right now, experts say.
What is the Pay and Job Possibilities? While you’ll get your formal training in general videogame design, there are several different positions that you can potentially land. Entry-level positions typically include titles like level designer (you help perfect a specific level/stage in the game), content designer (you help develop plot and characters), or game mechanic designer (you help design gameplay techniques, like special codes for fighting combos etc.) Lead designer is a position that is obtained after several years of experience in the field. You pay will vary on employers, level of training, and years of experience but you can expect to earn anywhere from $30,000 to $90,000 according to Payscale.
Rachel Sanders is a contributor to WebDesignSchoolsGuide.com, a site that helps future graphic and videogame designer find the perfect program for them. She welcomes your comments/questions.