Delving Into the Video Game Design Major
Students seeking a career in video game design and related fields will find a large menu of options online. Certificates, associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees are all available. Graduate degrees in graphic design and other related fields are also offered.
An online bachelor’s degree in game design will qualify students for the most desirable jobs with the most competitive salaries, but receiving a certificate or associate degree is a good start to learn the basics of the industry. Associate degrees typically take two years to complete, though accelerated programs may be available for full-time students. Coursework will include a combination of liberal arts and sciences classes plus more focused game design courses in gaming technology, animation, color theory, web design, story boarding, modeling, cinematography, level design, educational games, 3D design, and more.
Bachelor’s degree programs typically last four years and will include these and more advance courses in game design. Some programs will challenge students with a variety of individual and group projects. Students may be asked to complete a capstone project either independently or with a group in order to graduate.
The associate degree level provides students with a strong foundation in liberal arts and graphic design. Coursework at this level may include basic art classes, mathematics, composition, social sciences, and behavioral sciences.
Students will also take introductory classes on design and the video game industry. This degree level is a good place to start to learn all the basics of the field. Associate’s degrees typically take about two years to complete.
The purpose of the bachelor’s curriculum is to fully prepare students for the operations, design, and coordination of game play. Coursework may include applied game theory, evolution of electronic games, game scripting, storyboarding, writing for interactive games, and character development, and principles of interactivity.
Students at this academic level are well prepared to use their art and imagination skills to create the best possible game for a specific audience, platform or genre. The focus is on the artistic aspect of video games, not the programming. Bachelor’s degree holders in video game design usually enjoy a competitive edge in the job market.
Though master’s degree programs in video game design are not typical, graduate degrees exist in graphic design and related fields. The learning objectives at this level encourage students to nurture their artistic expression through various media formats. Students can also explore the history, methodology, and challenges of graphic design, as they fine-tune their artistic skills.
Master’s degree candidates will be educated on color theory, cartooning, drawing and sketching, painting, illustration, signage, typography, proofing, and animation. Graphic design majors may also learn about business management, graphic photography, digital graphics, and publication design.
Students with academic aspirations can delve further into the study of game design by seeking a doctorate degree in media, design and visual arts. The program will focus on the general principles and methodologies for effectively communicating visual ideas and information. Students learn about packaging visual content for various audiences, tackling fundamental problems in design, as well as the social ramifications of visual communication.
The curriculum may encourage interdisciplinary study that draw on the strengths of research and behavioral sciences. Graduates will have no trouble finding employment in an academic environment, among a wide array of other possibilities.
Supplementing Your Video Game Design Major
The versatility of a design degree enables students to gain employment in a wide range of job settings. Video game design graduates are prepared for a career that spans all creative areas of game design. Graduates are equipped to work on game plot and background, character development, storyboard, actions or level building.
One of the most important aspects of the video game design process is communication. In addition to strong visual imagination skills, you must be able to write, speak and communicate your design ideas effectively to programmers. With this in mind, students should consider pairing their video game design major with a minor in communications or English.
Math is also a key component of game design. The ability to apply basic math concepts is also crucial to success as a video game designer, as 3-D designs and geometric objects all rely on mathematical models. This makes math education a valuable accompaniment to a video game design degree.
Video game designers also have to be good managers of people. They lead teams of experts and coordinate the implementation of game design strategies. Students who wish to delve into the management aspect of design should consider a minor in business administration. Career paths in related fields include computer game programmer, game software engineer, lead game designer, and video game developer.
Learn More About the Video Game Design Major
The Video Game Design Major in the Job Market
Video game designers enjoy a bright career outlook. They may work for large-scale gaming or design companies or freelance from the convenience of their own home as independent contractors. Competition for game design jobs is very high, and students with more advanced training will have the best chance of getting the most rewarding jobs.
Those who graduate with online game design degrees and other certificates or training in web design, business management, advertising, or another specialization will also stand out amongst the competition. Those who work for specialized design services earn the highest salaries, followed by game or graphic designers who work in advertising.
Salary increases usually occurred when designers took on management level positions or contributed to their workplace in another capacity, so pursuing additional training in other aspects of design or coupling an online game design degree with another degree can improve your career prospects.
According to Game Developer magazine, entry-level game designers typically earn slightly more than other designers or game programmers. The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) estimates that designers typically earn between $50,000 and $80,000, with some earning up to $200,000 annually. Earnings will vary based upon the artist’s region, resume, reputation, and responsibilities.