The video game industry as a whole is expected to reach record-breaking revenues of more than $22 billion in 2008 according to NPD Group statistics. As the market demand for computer and video games continues to grow, the demand for skilled game designers is likely to increase. The growing market is reflected by the popularity of games such as Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto. On its first day of release, Grand Theft Auto IV sold over 3.6 million copies and generated over $300 million dollars in sales. A degree in game design and development can provide the skills you need to cash in on this rising demand.
Individuals interested in technology and design often find it challenging to take their interests to a professional level. A degree in game design and development can be the crucial first step. While degree programs in graphic design traditionally focus only on the creation of graphics, programs in game design and development typically teach all the phases of game creation--from writing the design to marketing the final product. Students can pursue the basics of game design through a certificate degree program, or go more in-depth with an associate's degree or bachelor's degree in game design and development.
Video Game Design: Relevant Coursework and Skill Development
Coursework varies from program to program, however, typical coursework in graphics and multimedia programs include:
- Programming and implementation
- Animation for gaming
- Logic and problem solving skills
- Interactive programming design
- Game play and level design
Career Opportunities for Designing Video Games
Career training in video game design may open a variety of doors to this lucrative industry. Some specific careers in the game industry include game programmer, artist, or analyst. In addition to these positions, there are also game and software testers to make sure functionality and gameplay are accurate. Level designers and support specialist work behind the scenes to ensure the games are interesting and challenging to their respective audiences. General administration and management positions are responsible for design and production.
Because technology continually shifts and develops, aspiring video game designers should realize they face a steep learning curve. Overtime hours are common and there are stories of designers working over seventy hours a week for more than two years to design a game.
Video Game Design Salary and Earnings Information
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that software publishing should be the third-fastest growing industry over the next decade. In fact, employment growth in the software publishing field is expected to reach 32 percent through 2016. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track video game designer salaries, a survey conducted by Game Developer notes that video game designers earn a median annual salary of $73,000.
If you enjoy video games and have a desire to start a career in this mega industry, a video game design degree can set you on the right path. Remember though, a career in the gaming industry is no game itself--expect to work under pressure and meet serious deadlines.