Is a Video Game Design Degree for You?

As the digital game production and design industry expands, more and more students are entering degree programs specifically for video gaming. Bachelor's degrees in video game design normally focus on the basic development of a video game. However, a video game design degree can involve a wide variety of subjects, including game theory, game mechanics, visual arts and computer programming. Students who are most successful in a video game bachelor's degree program tend to be highly creative individuals who thrive in fast-paced environments, though it also helps to have an interest in science and technology. Additionally, students in video game design degree programs should enjoy working in groups, since most games are collaborative efforts. Although an aptitude with numbers and equations is essential to video game design, strong communication is also important. Before choosing a program for a bachelor's degree in video game design, decide which specific area of gaming matches your desired career.

Advice for Earning Your Video Game Design Degree Online

Video game design is a fast-paced industry that’s experienced rapid growth as video games become more widespread. Employers want to see an ability to think creatively and technically while remaining prepared for changes and slipups. Although there is no further accreditation after a bachelor's degree, many individuals decide to pursue additional education. Some students choose postgraduate programs in computer programming, creative writing or graphic design. These degrees are not essential to succeeding in the video game industry but they can bolster your resume.

Required Courses

Courses a video game design student may encounter include prototyping, level design, visual development, game art, effects animation, character design, 3-D modeling, prop modeling, creative writing and computer programming. Students should also expect to complete basic classes from several departments, including literature, art, computer science and math. Furthermore, students should anticipate several courses that require group work and projects as well as written exams and assignments.

Common Career Paths:

Video games have become so mainstream that they are single-handedly creating new careers and degrees for those interested in the field. A bachelor's degree in video game design may be used to start a career in multimedia, software engineering, animation and graphic design. The skills acquired in video game design programs are not limited to the video game industry. A career in film, television and other forms of multimedia production is also a distinct possibility for individuals with a degree in video game design. Some career options for degree holders may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Artist: Artists create visual works as a way of expressing their ideas, thoughts or feelings. They bring in a range of methods to do this, such as painting, sculpting or illustration. An artist can fall into more than one category and can be hired by video game companies to create conceptual art used in the design of the game. Art directors are also hired to articulate design concepts. The median average annual salary for multimedia artists and animators was $58,510 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Creative Director: The job of a creative director is to manage the copy chief, art director and associated staff. They are expected to organize a company's market research and marketing strategy. They have their hand in multiple areas of business such as sales, advertising and promotion. They sometimes have a say on matters such as pricing, product development and public relations. A creative director generally has a lot of insight into and experience with the creative process and can visualize the finished product before plans are even finalized. In the video game business, a creative director is in charge of the design, vision and direction of the product. They may serve as a lead designer, using their talents in one main area as opposed to spreading their knowledge in multiple areas. 
  • Computer Programmer: These programmers turn software creations into logical series of directions that computers can follow. They code these commands in various programming languages. Additional duties include updating, modifying, fixing and expanding existing programs. Programmers may use computer-assisted software engineering tools as a way of systematizing most of the coding process. Through using these devices, a computer programmer is able to concentrate more on writing the unique parts of a program. The median annual salaries of computer programmers was $72,630 in May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

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