Video Game Designer

game_designer2Becoming a video game designer can be an exciting and rewarding career and getting the proper training can help you land your dream job working on the next great video game.

Video game design is multifaceted with many different specialized positions. It’s recommended that you understand your strengths when considering what areas to specialize in.  Game design companies can have different types of positions depending on the kind of games they develop, as well as the size of the company.

 

Below are some common Video Game Art & Design Positions:

Concept Writers

Writes the game’s story, character dialogue and works with  concept artists to create storyboards to develop the overall theme of the game.

Concept Artists are proficient in traditional hand-drawn arts and 2D software such as Photoshop and are responsible for the look and feel of the game by creating characters, creatures and environments.

Level Designers are responsible for designing levels, missions, and environments, often placing elements of terrain designed by the environment artists.

Modellers design 3D models for characters, creatures, and objects using tools such as Maya or 3DS Max. Must have extensive knowledge of anatomy for humans and animals to create life-like features

Texture Artist are charged with the task of breathing life into soulless 3D models. They make steel look shiny, leather look wrinkly, sand look grainy, and tree bark look rough.

Animators work with 3D assets from modellers to create realistic animations for characters and objects as well as things like cars, explosions, fire, and plasma cannons.

Mechanics Designers designs rules for the gameplay and ensures that they remain carefully balanced throughout the game. Also known as a systems designer.

UI Artists  design the game’s user interface, such as menus and HUD (heads-up display, or on-screen info), and handles any technical issues relating to it.

 

Programming is one of the most laborious parts of video game development and is one of the most frequent job openings. Many entry-level jobs are for small tasks requiring programmers, so it can be a great way to break into the gaming industry for a starting job even if programming isn’t your major. The roles and titles for video game programmers have become highly specialized and diversified as modern games have demanded more and more programming to deliver movie-like experiences. There are some programmers who are self-taught, but most commonly you will be required to have a bachelor’s degree in subjects like computer science, 3D mathematics, or physics. Most video and computer games are based on C++ or C, but Java is very common for mobile and browser games to enable cross-platform support.

 

Common programmer roles include the following:

Engine Programmer
Responsible for designing the base engine that the game will run on. Engine programmers are familiar with physics and graphics APIs and usually have a history of experience in other roles to qualify for the job.

Graphics Programmer
Highly skilled in 3D modeling, special effects, and graphics optimization. Graphics programmers excel in advanced mathematics like linear algebra, calculus, and vector math. Their jobs are high expertise and high pay.

Physics Programmer
Designs the physics used by the game for simulating real world physics or special effects.

AI Programmer
Develops the logic and rules to simulate artificial intelligence for the game and enemies, and works on pathfinding and decision trees. AI programming is expanding significantly as games become more advanced.

Audio Programmer
Builds the sound engine for the game to support sound effects and music. Lower demand job.

Network Programmer
Handles aspects of the game that make an online multiplayer experience possible, including network security, latency, synchronization, client/server architecture, and database creation and management. This is a high demand job due to the surge in online multiplayer gaming.

Lead Programmer
Oversees advanced programming tasks and team management. The lead programmer is experienced in multiple programming areas and makes important design and technology decisions, as well as attending meetings with other department leads to ensure consistency between all areas.

 

How Much Money Does a Video Game Designer Make?

The video game industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and most video game designers will usually make a decent amount of money. The median annual salary for a video game designer according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is $58,510; $28.13/hr.

Video game designers truly do earn every penny of what they make, though. Although it sounds like a dream job to many, most people don’t realize the amount of work that must be done to plan, create, and polish a video game. The majority of video game designers are constantly under pressure with strict looming deadlines, and they will usually need to work very long hours.

What Type of Education Does a Video Game Designer Need?

Video Game Design is a very competitive field, and an education is usually needed to break into this field.

Students who are looking to have a career in video game design have the option to attend a few different types of schools. Traditional colleges and universities will often offer several classes pertaining to video game design, for instance, but art or technology institutes may offer more specialized programs in this field. Some student may even opt to enroll in increasingly popular online programs.

A video game designer will usually need to have at least an associate degree in order to secure an entry level position as a video game designer. A bachelor’s degree in a related field, however, is even better.Aspiring video game designers should consider taking graphic design classes, including animation, along with computer science classes, including computer programming. Some art institutes may even offer video game design degree programs, which combine several artistic design classes with more technical computer courses. There are plenty of online options for those seeking more of a work from home experience.

What Can a Person Do With a Degree In Video Game Design?

Small video game production companies are often looking for video game designers. Since these smaller companies often have limited budgets, however, they will generally not pay as much as larger companies. On the other hand, these smaller companies are usually a little more laid back than larger companies. A new graduate just starting his game design career typically has a better chance of securing employment with small or start-up companies.

Large multi-million dollar video game production companies are often a little harder to get into, and they are also a little more structured. Since these larger companies have much larger budgets, however, game designers are usually paid larger salaries.