dcsimg

Game Design Majors Guide


Table of Contents

What Does it Mean to Study Game Design?

An Arts & Humanities degree in game design is the specialized study of the visual creations for electronic games - video games, PC games, arcade games, and handheld systems. It differs from a design degree in that it deals with game design only, but it is a necessary specialization because of the complexity of creating games.

The electronic games industry generates billions of dollars in annual revenue and is one of the leading popular forms of entertainment for people under 18. This trend is expected to continue, and the demand for new, more sophisticated games is not expected to slow. Game design involves everything from accounting, designing and visual and sound design to programming, testing, and marketing.

You've likely decided to get into this career based on your keen interest and great ideas for electronic games. An online degree in multimedia design can turn your interest into an employable skill set.

Types of Computer and Video Game Design Degrees

As more and more children of the video age grow up, the competition for game designers increases. Give yourself an edge in the market by taking on-campus or online college courses in game software development, game art & design, and more. Your bachelor's degree in game design also allows you to develop a varied portfolio, which is as important (if not more) as a resume and references.

Fun and fantasy are the reasons why electronic gaming is so popular, so your own passion for playing is a key part of your own success. But strong creativity, artistic talent, design skills, computer expertise, and problem-solving abilities are also required qualities in this exciting field.

Associates and Bachelor's Degrees

You can start your online education with any art, design theory or design-focused associate degree and advance to a bachelor's degree. Game design programs focus on teaching basic art and design skills, then go into designing game play and background, creating characters and environments, and applying your knowledge of video and computer games to evaluate products. You'll be part of the planning team that chooses each game setting, story line and characters - as you would be in a real working environment. By knowing how each part of the team contributes to the final product, you can create better designs from the outset.

You'll be using computer applications and sophisticated software to create your artwork. Your curriculum may include animation and life study to help you with realistic modeling of your characters. Most professionals in the industry do formal study and extra research after they have their degrees, to keep current with what the other game art design teams are producing. And regardless of your prior training in design or interactive media, the electronic games industry presents a unique set of challenges, issues, and demands that only education and ongoing experience can prepare you for.

Browse associates degree programs in game art and design.

Browse bachelor's degree programs in game art and design.

What Can You Do With a College Degree in Game Design?

The development departments in a game company divide up the processes of creating new games according to the specialties of the team. These teams can include designers, programmers, visual artists, and sound and production specialists. The leaders of each specialist group will communicate closely with the other leaders and the overall team lead to keep the product on track with the original plan.

The design team works on the original vision of the game, including the background story and plot, characters, environment, weapons or props, scoring system, special effects, and sound. The clarity of the original concept and the ability to stick to it, while making allowances for necessary changes, helps to guide the work of all the other teams, not least of which is the art team.

Video Game Art

The art team is responsible for creating a dynamic, enticing and satisfying visual experience for the end user. They are expected to maintain the original concept of each game, so their communications with the design team are crucial.

Members of the art team can include the director, lead and junior artist, and the art technician. Each team member is generally expected to have a BA from design school, with hands-on experience and a strong interest in electronic gaming. Each position includes attention to details such as modeling, lighting, texturizing, palette integrity, and interfacing.

The art director attends all the planning meetings and is responsible for every detail in the visual presentation, and understanding how it will work with the sound and production components. S/he then communicates all this information to the artists and technicians, who will take those concepts and rough drawings and start producing the visuals.

As with major animation projects, such as films, one set of artists - the leads or animators - does the main visuals, drawing on their digital art backgrounds with the aid of programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Painter, or 3D studio Max or Maya. The juniors or assistants do the "fills" and any of the other digital work the lead does, if they have the proficiency. The technician manages all the downloading functions and the cropping, sizing, and manipulation of the color palette to produce a suitable visual product.

Earnings for the art team vary with responsibility, training, and years of experience. Based on 2014 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, art directors in the video industry earn a mean annual wage of $114,290, and salaries can range from $45,060 - $168,040; multimedia artists and animators can make $35,510 - $112,030, with a mean annual wage of $73,950; and less-specialized artists can earn $26,770 - $99,170, with the mean annual wage for those working in the computer industry at $64,130. Prospects for advancement are very good if you have talent, work well on the team, and continue to maintain your knowledge in the field through extra education.

Video Game Design Industry Associations

Several organizations and conferences give students and professionals in the gaming industry a chance to network, test new products, and advance their careers.

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences is dedicated to serving the entertainment software industry. Their board includes senior executives from the major videogame companies, including Sony, Nintendo, EA, Microsoft, Atari, Activision, and Ubisoft. Current members represent fields such as: art and graphics, animation, interactive design, production, software engineering, sound design, testing and quality assurance, video and special effects, editorial and storyline writing, as well as the business segment of the industry. The basic qualification for voting membership is two years of full-time experience on a design team, plus a named credit on a game that has been published in North America. Students and team members with less than two years' worth of experience can join as non-voting members.

The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) is a nonprofit membership digital game creation organization that advocates globally to effect change to benefit that community. They offer personal and career development programs and support to members.

Return to the top

Sources

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2004-05 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos090.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, April 15, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes271011.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, April 15, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes271014.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, April 15, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes271019.htm

Pursue your Game Art & Design Major today…

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.

Searching Searching ...

Prefer exploring options talking to our staff?
Call toll free now: 1.855.330.6938
Matching School Ads
5 Program(s) Found
  • Push Your Creativity To The Next Level.
  • Full Sail’s curriculum combines elements of creativity, art, business and life skills, technical prowess, and academic achievement.
  • Full Sail offers accelerated programs, so a degree that would normally take four years takes 24 months on average.
  • Students work with industry-standard tools and technologies, allowing them to gain practical knowledge and real-world experience.
  • Join us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to interact with our community, read about grad success, and see campus images.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
5 Program(s) Found
ABCO Technology , Los Angeles
  • An accredited computer training academy preparing students to enter the IT industry as Network Engineers, Software Engineers, Web Apps Developer, Website Designers, Programmers, Database Administrators since 2000.
  • Holds A+ certification from CompTIA.
  • Located in Los Angeles, approximately 10 minutes away from LAX.
  • Flexible class schedules offered during day times, evenings and weekends.
  • Helping students start a career in technology within 3 - 9 months.
  • Educates with the mission to serve the needs of the local community and graduates by matching opportunities to skills.
  • Military friendly school.
Show more [+]
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
  • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
  • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
Laurus College , Atascadero
  • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 2009.
  • Offers career assistance and resource services to both students and graduates.
  • Several scholarship opportunities are available to students who qualify.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACCSC).
  • 4 campus locations in Atascadero, San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, and Oxnard, California, with online options as well.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Located in Hollywood, CA, offering degrees in film, music production, business, animation and more.
  • Scholarship, financial aid and military benefits are available for students who qualify.
  • Programs taught by award-winning industry professionals in real-world working environments.
  • Features industry-standard facilities including recording studios, soundstages, green screen, movie theatres and more.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
3 Program(s) Found
  • Offers several scholarship opportunities for students who qualify.
  • Laptop computers are issued to each student at the beginning of their program.
  • Provides programs in health care, business, information technology, and graphic arts.
  • Respiratory Therapy program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

Our family of non-profit colleges admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin.

Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
Platt College , Alhambra
  • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
  • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
  • Showcases visual communication students’ artwork and design through campus magazine.
  • 3 campuses in Southern California.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
SPEAK TO AN ADVISOR 1.844.285.6104