How Can You Get a Degree in Game Design and Development?

Video Game DesignerIf you love solving puzzles and using your creativity to build elaborate structures, you may want to know how to get a degree in game design and development. Depending on whether you’re interested in logic design or animation, you can major in computer science, multimedia design or a related subject. Video game developers must be expert C/C++ programmers, and multimedia artists must have exceptional 2-D and 3-D design skills to find work in the video game industry.

While console gaming is becoming more of a niche market targeted toward young, middle-class males, mobile gaming is expanding to include people from all walks of life. Due to the demands of game consoles’ target audience, these games have enormous budgets, and their development is based on extensive market research. For these reasons, console game developers rarely have the freedom to experiment the way developers for lower-risk mobile games do. Moreover, competition for jobs in the console gaming industry is high as these projects have production levels comparable to Hollywood blockbusters.

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Game Developer?

Game design degrees prepare students to program physics, artificial intelligence and 3-D graphics, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As well as C and C++ expertise, developers must have excellent 3-D programming skills and a solid understanding of linear algebra. Since 3-D graphics require extensive system resources, game developers must have intimate knowledge of low-level programming and C/C++ compilers. If a college offers a degree specifically in video game design, it most likely covers these areas in more detail than a general computer science degree. While a CS degree prepares students to write low-level Assembly code and compilers, it usually doesn’t cover 3-D programming, artificial intelligence or gaming physics.

Artists and animators need professional training to reach the necessary level of expertise. In addition to excellent modeling skills, video game artists must understand how to create the most resource-efficient game assets possible. They work with 3-D design software to model characters and worlds to which programmers add physics, artificial intelligence and narratives to bring the game to life. Learning how to make game assets efficient is easier than learning how to make them realistic and visually appealing. Without these abilities, a degree in game design doesn’t guarantee employment.

Where Do Video Game Designers Find Work?

Most game designers create games for Web browsers, mobile devices and desktops. They may work for a small, private employer or a large firm that produces Android, iOS or console games. Console game developers often must relocate to a city with a game development industry, while other developers can often work over the Internet. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, game industry employees earn between $49,000 and $107,000 annually, with artists earning around $68,000 and programmers earning around $85,000.

Related Resource: Visual Effects

While these salaries are comparable with the pay in related industries, such as application development and multimedia design, video game industry employees tend to consider their work a dream job. This emotional aspect of the industry increases the competition for jobs as well as the quality of the work and the dedication of employees. If you have the passion and talent to compete with other highly driven individuals, you should continue learning how to get a degree in game design and development.