How Do I Pursue A Career In Video Game Design?

"I love playing video games. I have become so addicted that I would skip one class a week just to be able to play my games longer. I know this isn’t good and I am getting back on track as far as my high school education goes, so it’s not a big deal. I have been doing a lot of thinking and I realize that the only way for me to be able to do what I love all the time is to become a video game designer. Please help. How do I pursue a career in video game design?"

asked by Linda R. from Rochester, New York

If you love to play video games, a career as a video game designer is certainly going to be the perfect fit. Not only will you be able to play games to your heart’s content, you’ll actually have the chance to develop the video game you’ve always thought about. It is a dream job for those who are so inclined.

Contrary to what is popularly believed, a career as a video game designer is not easy to get into. It is one of the most challenging and highly competitive of occupations. The earlier you start preparing for it, the better.

If you’re still in high school, it would be a good idea to take courses in math such as analytic geometry, trigonometry, linear algebra calculus and computer programming. Writing classes are also recommended. These subjects are not only going to provide you with the mental preparation you need for this job, it will also serve to jumpstart your technical knowledge to succeed as a video game designer.

At the very least you need to obtain an associate degree to get an entry-level job as a game designer. You greatly increase your chances of getting hired by video game firms if you have a bachelor’s degree. But let’s be clear at this point: There are only a few college degrees that focus mainly on game design and development. If you want, you can certainly enroll in them as they provide specific instruction on the field. Take note that many video game designers don’t possess these highly-specialized degrees.

Video game designers often have backgrounds in graphic design and animation as well as computer programming or computer science. These courses provide a good blend of artistic and technical knowledge necessary to become a video game designer.

While you are studying, you will have the chance to develop your own demo reel or design portfolio. This is going to showcase your abilities as an aspiring game designer and is what is going to be asked of you by employers when you look for a job. Your portfolio can include complete games that you have designed yourself or if you haven’t gotten to this level yet, you should be able to show scenes or levels that you have come up with. Interning at a gaming company will also help you get a feel for the job as well as the nature of the industry.

Having experience is very important if you want a fulltime career as a video game designer. In addition to internships, you might want to start looking for work in small gaming firms as they are more apt to hire inexperienced video game designers who show potential. Once you have established your reputation in the field, you can look for opportunities in bigger gaming companies.

Career Spotlight: Video Game Designer

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