How to Become a Video Game Designer

Video Game Designer Key Stats
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 4%

Do you love to play video games?

If so, you’re definitely not alone.

However, if you’re also creative, gifted with design, and enjoy working with computers and programming, then you might like to become a video game designer.

A video game designer works to develop ideas, plan and program video games, as well as work out any bugs during the testing process.

While many aspects of the job are enjoyable, it’s also important to know that there can be a lot of long hours involved when you become a video game designer.

Entry into this occupation can be competitive, so be ready to put in a lot of hard work if you want to make it.

This could mean a lot of studying, working in internships, or even proving yourself by designing and releasing your own games.

Education Requirements to Become a Video Game Designer

There isn’t any strict educational path you must take to become a video game designer.

However, without a degree, it’s unlikely you will get a good job.

There are two ways that you can approach your education to become a video game designer.

The first is to focus on the design elements of this job.

You might like to complete a fine art degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree with subjects in the arts including design.

You could also focus on graphic design and computer-assisted drawing skills.

The second pathway you might like to take is computer programming.

You could complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in computer science, and complete subjects which relate to software development.

Either of these pathways could lead to a career working as a video game designer.

Both those with design skills and computer programming skills are required by this industry.

If you decide to become a video game designer, it’s important to understand that there are far more people who would like to do this job, than there are actual jobs.

With this in mind, it’s important to do a few things to make your resume stand out.

Internships can make a big difference when you are looking for that all-important first job, so if you get the opportunity to do them then take it.

While you’re at college, you should concentrate on building up a strong portfolio of work.

You may also like to develop your own short games.

There are lots of opportunities to market these kinds of things on the internet.

Video Game Designer Job Description

A video game designer comes up with concepts for video games, plans the way they will look or feel, creates challenges for gamers, and puts it all together using computer programming.

Here are some of the tasks a video game designer may complete:

  • Coming up with concepts for new games
  • Creating drawings for a game
  • Creating characters and settings
  • Making sure a game is challenging
  • Creating a game using computer programming
  • Testing a game for bugs
  • Creating updates for games

Video Game Designer Salary and Career Path

When you become a video game designer, it’s likely your first job may be an internship.

In this competitive field, you will probably start at the bottom.

Don’t worry, after a while you’ll be given a chance and you will start getting paid for your work.

Many will work for large software publishers designing games.

Some may move on and become consultants later in their careers.

Others will move on to similar roles.

These could include:

While starting out is very competitive, those with experience will have excellent opportunities throughout their careers.

This is a growing field that will offer you many chances for professional development.

For those who work on the programming side of things, keeping up to date with new technologies will be an integral part of your role.

The median salary for a video game programmer is around $70,000 a year.

Early in your career, you can expect to earn a bit less.

You will need quite a few years of experience in this industry to make the big dollars.

If you love your video games and want to make a career out of game creation, then you might like to become a video game designer.

Be ready to put in lots of work for little pay in the beginning, but for those that are determined, a satisfying career path of doing what you love is waiting for you.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers, OCC Code 15-1256, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a video game designer do?

Video game designers design the content and the rules, the gameplay, the environment, and the characters of a video game.

They work as part of a team, alongside artists and programmers, and are involved in the pre-production and production stages of video game development.

As a video game designer, you may have to work overtime to meet deadlines.

Video game designers need creativity, attention to detail, storytelling skills, and good communication skills.

They also need an understanding of programming languages, software, and 3D modeling programs.

As a video game designer, you will need the ability to spend many hours seated in front of a computer.

How much does a video game designer make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t record specific data about video game designers but the median salary for multimedia artists, in general, was $72,520 as of May 2018.

Salaries in this field vary based on many factors and as a game designer you can make anywhere between less than $40,000 and more than $120,000 a year.

How much does it cost to become a video game designer?

Educational requirements vary depending on the employer but you will need at least a high school and some training in computer programming and 3D modeling to be able to find employment as a video game designer.

Larger companies may prefer game designers who hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science or software engineering.

Costs vary widely depending on the school and the type of program you choose.

A 4-year computer science program will cost you, on average, around $170,000 in total.

Diploma programs in game design are also available and may cost less than $10,000.

What is the demand for video game designers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for multimedia artists and animators is projected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2028.

As consumers will continue to purchase video games, more video game designers will be needed to ensure a high-quality gaming experience.

The demand for video games for mobile devices is also expected to grow and game designers will also be in-demand in this sector.

The competition for jobs may be strong in some regions and having some formal experience and a strong portfolio will give you an advantage over your competitors.

How long does it take to become a video game designer?

The answer to this question depends on the employer and the type of position you are targeting.

You may find employment in the field without a formal post-secondary degree if you have a strong portfolio, an artistic eye and all the other skills needed for this profession.

However, in order to improve your employment prospects, you should also earn a bachelor’s degree in computer programming or a related field; degree which can be obtained after 4 years of post-secondary education.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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