Do you have a passion for video games? Have you ever considered turning that passion into a career? Working as a video game designer, you could be responsible for everything from the overall function of game-to-game mechanics, story development, level design, and much more.
Sound exciting? You may be wondering how to get into game design. For most, it begins with a formal education. With a better understanding of what it takes to work in this exciting field, as well as how to get a degree in video game design, you can determine if this may be the ideal path for you.
Why Pursue a Bachelor's in Game Design?
You might ask yourself, "What degree should I get to pursue game design as a career?"
While formal education and experience requirements vary from one employer to the next, the reality is that most aspiring video game designers need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in the field. This level of formal education can help create the foundational framework aspiring video game designers need to design and develop digital games in a fast-paced environment.
Admissions and Degree Requirements
So, what exactly can you expect from a bachelor's program in video game design? This can vary depending on the specific program and school you are considering. However, most bachelor's degree programs in game design will take about three to four years to complete (depending on whether you are enrolled full or part time). In terms of content, these programs cover the most important topics that new game designers need to know to emerge in this growing field. It is common for game design programs to offer courses in topics such as:
- 3D Graphics
- Level Design
- Introduction to Game Design
- History of Games and Critical Theory
Admissions requirements for these programs might vary, but typically, you would need to apply along with a copy of your high school transcript or previous college transcript. Some programs may also require applicants to submit a resume and a personal statement or letter of intent.
Value of a Bachelor's in Game Design
Though it’s not impossible to break into the video game design realm without a formal degree, a bachelor's degree in game design is strongly recommended for those wanting to build the foundational knowledge needed to compete in this ever-changing field. Likewise, having a formal degree on your resume can help you stand out from other job prospects while allowing you to develop specialized technical knowledge and skills for an even more competitive edge.
Career Opportunities and Outlook
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for special effects artists and animators is expected to grow eight percent between 2022 and 2032, which is faster than the national average for all occupations.
Those working in this field may handle everything from using computer programs to create video game illustrations and graphics to editing animation and effects based on feedback from other team members. Game design tends to be a highly collaborative job, involving a lot of work with other game designers, animators, directors, staff, and more.
Jobs and Industries
Those with bachelor's degrees in video game design can enjoy a wide range of career opportunities that may appeal to their interests. Aside from game designer, other examples of the type of jobs people work with a bachelor's in game design include:
- Game developer
- Game tester
- Digital interface designer
- Game programmer
- Special effects artist
- Game project manager
- Multimedia specialist
It is also not uncommon for those with video game design experience to branch out into other industries, including television, movies, and other forms of media.
Benefits of Pursuing a Bachelor's in Game Design
There are many reasons to pursue a bachelor's degree in game design if you are interested in this line of work. From career benefits to professional and personal benefits, having a formal degree in this growing field can pay off in a number of ways.
Video game designers enjoy a variety of unique career benefits, including the knowledge that they are making a difference in the exciting world of video games. These professionals often get to work on a game from its earliest phases of brainstorming to its final stages of completion and are frequently among the first to be able to test and play each game. For video game lovers, this may be a huge benefit.
In addition, video game designers tend to work relatively "traditional" schedules during the day, and are typically off on weekends. There may be exceptions, of course—such as when project deadlines are approaching. For the most part, however, these professionals enjoy a relatively normal schedule that offers plenty of time to strike a healthy work/life balance.
One of the biggest career advantages to having a bachelor's degree in video game design is the job demand that these professionals enjoy. As previously mentioned, the estimated job demand for special effects artists and animators is expected to grow by eight percent between 2022 and 2032, so there is likely to be an ongoing demand for video game designers as more games are developed and experienced professionals are needed. Meanwhile, those with formal degrees in the field will continue to have a competitive advantage over those working without formal degrees.
Video game designers with bachelor's degrees in the field can also enjoy some notable professional benefits when they complete a four-year degree program. This includes the ability to graduate with a skill set and foundational knowledge that can truly prepare you for the realities and challenges of the video game design industry.
Oftentimes, degree programs include professional networking opportunities that can put you into contact with real connections in the gaming sphere. This, in turn, could improve your prospects once you graduate and help set you up for success in your future career.
In-Demand and Transferable Skills
When you graduate from a reputable video game design program, you also have various in-demand, transferable skills that can take you far. From understanding game mechanics and level design to knowing how to develop a game that centers on user experience, video game designers with formal degrees tend to have a more comprehensive understanding of what it takes to design a successful game from start to finish.
These skills can generally be adapted and transferred to other types of work in similar fields, with many video game designers also going on to work in such titles as:
- Art director
- Computer programmer
- Director or producer
- Camera operator
- Web developer
- Digital designer
- Graphic designer
A bachelor's degree in game design could help you achieve certain personal benefits in your career as well. Consider, for example, that many employers these days are looking to hire professionals with a minimum of a bachelor's degree under their belts. Even if you end up going into a different field, then, having a formal degree could help set you apart and improve your overall career prospects.
Plus, if you are genuinely interested in and passionate about video games, pursuing a degree in video game design allows you to get a degree that revolves around your own interests and passions. Of course, there is also the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with earning a degree.
Job Security and Prospects
As more video games are developed and released across a vast range of platforms, there is a growing demand for experienced and knowledgeable video game designers who can help turn a basic concept into a functioning reality—whether it be on a dedicated console or on the internet.
Having a bachelor's degree in game design may give you a certain level of job security, especially when you consider that not everybody working in this field has a formal degree. By holding one yourself, you might find that you have an easier time being considered for interviews or are more readily eligible for promotions within your current job. With these improved job prospects, you may be able to take your career as a video game designer a little further.
Salary and Perks
Many factors can impact the earnings of a video game designer, from the location where you work to your level of experience and your specific job title. However, according to the BLS, the median annual wage for special effects artists and animators was nearly $99,000 in 2022.
Working as a video game designer has other perks, too. One of the biggest is the ability to be involved with the design and testing of some of the industry's biggest video games.
Likewise, many video game designers enjoy the independent nature of this line of work. Although most video game design roles require collaboration with other team members, video game designers with degrees also possess a diverse skill set that can be applied to any number of careers. With this versatility, many video game designers go on to work as freelance designers, essentially functioning as their own bosses and deciding which projects they are interested in being involved with. If you like the idea of working as a freelance designer or even starting your own business, a degree can help you do just that.
Kickstart Your Game Design Career
Working as a video game designer can be a rewarding career, especially if you are passionate about video games and have a knack for things like visual design and game mechanics. If you're looking for a degree program to help you prepare for the unique challenges of this type of work, a bachelor's degree in game design from Lindenwood University Online may be right for you.
In this 100 percent online program, you can develop your own approach to everything from visual design and user experience to story development and game mechanics—all with a focus on working with a team to turn a video game from concept to reality. Get in touch today to learn more about our online bachelor's degree in game design.