How to become a game designer
With the advent of arcade, home console, computer, and now mobile and tablet games, game design has become an elaborate process. Specialists trained in a variety of disciplines collaborate to create great computer or video games replete with state-of-the-art animation and visual effects. These individuals need not be in the same room, city or even the same state. Not only are many game designers (about 57 percent) self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a significant portion work from home, regardless of their employment.
Historically, game design has primarily been male-dominated, but in the past 25 years, more women have been entering the field. From 1989 through 2009, women went from being 3 percent to 11 percent of the game design workforce, and since 2009, the number of women hired by gaming companies has tripled.
What are the educational requirements?
If you are interested in pursuing a career in game design, go to college — the minimum requirement for employment is typically a bachelor's degree, the BLS reports. Some schools have dedicated degree programs in game design, but if you can't find one that suits you, remember it isn't the only educational option. You can earn this degree in computer graphics, art, animation or a related field.
While it may be helpful to possess artistic ability and talent, people lacking in those areas can often compensate with robust technical and computer skills, and those abilities might be preferred by some employers. Likewise, those who do not have strong computer skills may make up for it through demonstrable artistic talent.
Some skills that game designers may need include:
- Computer programming and knowledge of programming languages
- Problem solving and critical thinking
- Knowledge of audio and video equipment
- Written and verbal communication
If you're interested in pursuing a degree in game design or computer programming, consider one of these sponsored schools:
How much do game designers make?
While the BLS does not have individual information on the salary of game designers it does provide information on multimedia artists and animators, which includes the role of game designer. According to the BLS, the mean annual wage for these artists and animators in the U.S. was $72,400 as of May 2013. At the same time, the top five states for annual mean wages were:
- California: $88,150
- Washington: $76,900
- Washington D.C.: $76,110
- New York: $72,530
- New Mexico: $70,310
If you've been called a gamer for as long as you remember, you might as well make a career out of it, right? To learn more about how to become a game designer and for a complete list of sources, check out the visual that follows.
Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: Multimedia Artists and Animators, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Multimedia Artists and Animators, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014,