Video Game Designers fall under the Artistic Theme Code Category of the Strong Interest Inventory®. The Strong Interest Inventory® was first released in 1927, and has been refined over almost a century. Today, it is considered a powerful tool for helping individuals choose a career path that will be a good fit for them, based on their personal and workplace preferences. The Artistic Theme Code contains careers related to Drama, Writing, Music, and Visual Arts. People with a proclivity for Artistic Careers prefer loosely-structured workplace environments, where they have the opportunity to fully express their creativity.
Video Game Designers develop and design core features of video games. This includes developing innovative game play and role-play mechanics, storylines, character biographies, graphics, and other features of games. They also create or enhance missions, challenges, or puzzles to be encountered in game play, while also maintaining careful records of all design concepts, production schedules and prototypes. Most Video Game Designers collaborate closely with animators, artists, programmers, and other design and technical staff, often creating and presenting mock-ups, and then integrating their feedback into additional prototypes for testing. These mockups can be either 2D or 3D, and must be designed in line with other games or products launched by the same company. Video Game Designers must keep abreast of game design technology and techniques, including industry trends and audience interests. They do this by attending conferences, participating in professional organizations, and attending meetings and workshops related to the field itself. Networking and constantly reviewing existing and forthcoming technologies are key to being a successful Game Designer.
Video Game Designers use a fairly limited range of hardware including desktop computers, tablets, smartphones, and game consoles. These comprise nearly all of their hardware. On the other hand, they use a broad range of sophisticated software, from scientific software like Virtual Battlespace, to SQL servers, to development environment software (such as Adobe Creative Suite) to web platform development software. They also use many types of video creation and editing software (e.g., Adobe Systems Adobe After Effects; Autodesk 3ds), and graphics software (Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop; Balsamiq Studios Balsamiq Mockups; OpenGL, etc.). Of course, Microsoft Office Suite is heavily utilized. Collectively, this software provides the majority of the platform for Video Game Designers’ production.
Being a successful Video Game Designer requires familiarity with computer hardware and software, including circuit boards, processors, chips, and other equipment, as well as a basic ability to program. Additionally, a mastery of principles of design and communications is essential. Because Game Designers often work on large teams and need to communicate quickly and adeptly with others, proficiency in English is necessary, as is the ability to actively listen to others’ input and suggestions, and think critically about complex problems. Game Designers often confront challenges which they need to analyze, and then develop and evaluate solutions as quickly as possible. Problem sensitivity, and sophisticated deductive and inductive reasoning skills are of the utmost importance.
Most Video Game Designer positions require at least a Bachelor’s Degree from a four-year college or university, in addition to a level of on-the-job professional training. In fact, nearly 60% of Video Game Designers hold at least a Bachelor’s Degree, most often in computer science, computer graphics, or another related STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field. These degree programs help aspiring Video Game Designers develop the analytical thinking and attention to detail necessary for them to be successful in their field.
Video Game Designers’ salaries average nationwide $85,240 annually. In California, Colorado, Virginia, and Maryland, Video Game Designer salaries can average as much as $115,000 per year. However, in comparatively low-tech states (Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Wisconsin, etc.) a Video Game Designer’s salary averages below $72,000. As with many careers, location is important in predicting earning potential. While employment rates are expected to remain somewhat constant nation-wide before 2024, the growth rates in Utah, Washington, Colorado, and Arizona are all projected to exceed 20% before 2020. This career is still lucrative and in fairly high demand for those who are talented artists and programmers.
Below are some employment trends for Video Game Designers:
- Median Video Game Designers Salary: $40.98/hour; $85,240 annually
- Employment: 233,000 employees
- Projected growth (2014-2024): slower than average (2% to 4%)
- Projected job openings (2014-2024): 37,700
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2014-2022 employment projections Onetonline.org