How To Become A Video Game Designer
A video game designer plans and designs a video game. You will be part of a team of other video game professionals whose task is to turn a game idea into an actual game that your prospective target audience will enjoy. Video games are not created overnight nor can they even be completed in just a few months and during this lengthy time period of the game development process, you will be collaborating, executing and tweaking the different aspects of a video game.
As a game designer, your task will first begin with brainstorming for the concept of a game. You could draw ideas from an existing game and modify it or you can come up with an original idea. During the planning stage, you will be suggesting a possible storyline and identifying who the protagonists and antagonists of the game are going to be.
You will also talk about the obstacles and challenges that the players must go through to be able to win or get to the next level. You will be putting all these details in what is known as a game design document. As the entire team goes through the process, the document will continue to be updated to reflect the changes made in various aspects of the design.
Artistic talent is needed in this role so you need to be imaginative and creative especially when it comes to thinking about the plot, characters and strategies that need to be used by the players. In addition to natural artistic flair, you still need basic computer programming knowledge. This is because you will be doing computer scripting as well. You will be coding and constantly checking the code as the game continues to evolve.
The challenges encountered in game development necessitate decisiveness on your part as a game designer. Throughout the game design process, you will notice that there are going to be missing elements in the program and as such, you will have to make the necessary decisions on what to add.
You will make sure that a uniform standard is followed for the entire game as you near the end of production. This can be a challenge for lengthy games or when cuts to the budget threaten the completion of the game.
Why Become A Video Game Designer
A career as a video game designer is suited for those who want to fuse their passion for video games and their knowledge of computer programming and design into one profession. This is a very fulfilling career for those who live and breathe video games and love the art and science of storytelling.
Another form of fulfillment given in this career is the fact that you know that what you are making will make people happy. It is also a very rewarding career financially and because of the popularity of video games both now and in the future, it’s a field that will continue to provide opportunities for those who are inclined to the field.
Video Game Designer Work Environment
Video game designers work for gaming firms or game publishers. If you work in a small startup, you could be the only video game designer in the team. However, larger firms typically have many game designers collaborating together. The work is done in the comfort of an office and undertaken during regular office hours.
Overtime work may be required especially during crunch times when the deadline for release is looming and bugs still need to be worked out. The stress level in this profession is quite high because of the very competitive nature of the gaming industry.
Video Game Designer Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have salary data specifically for video game designers. However, it does have salary information for multimedia artists and animators which can be classified as the broader occupational category where game designers belong.
Their mean annual wage is $72,400. Data from private companies pegged the median pay of video game designers at $72,000 and their top pay at $117,000.
Video Game Designer Career Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that the employment rate for multimedia artists and animators for the period covering 2012 to 2022 is set to rise at six percent. This rate is slower than the average for all job types.
Although there will be consumer demand, this will be tempered by the competition coming from equally talented professionals from overseas. They are preferred by game design studios because they often require lower pay.
Video Game Designer Degree
Although there are many talented individuals who know how to design video games on their own through self-study, getting a degree in computer science, computer programming or related fields is still recommended since this will give the necessary technical knowledge and training in the field.
There are also bachelor’s degrees in video game design offered in some schools. Those who have already graduated from computer science and computer programming courses but want to gain specific knowledge about video game design can take courses in game design and development. These are also offered online and can be taken at the individual’s own pace.
Employers also prefer to hire designers who possess a bachelor’s degree because it indicates that the individual is serious about the field. Enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program will also give students the chance to start forming their own portfolios—something that prospective employers will ask for as proof of their abilities.
Another reason why a degree is needed is that programs often have internships included in their curriculum. These internships become opportunities for students to learn how the video game industry actually works and give them the chance to establish contacts in the industry. These will be valuable later on when students start looking for jobs.