Videogames are a getaway from the mundane hubbub of everyday life and have been an integral part of our inner child at every stage in life. From the earliest arcade games like Pacman and Tetris to the evolution of themed games like Mario and sporting games like the infamously engaging Nintendo Wii, video games have come a long way and are constantly growing. What once started as simplistic single and multiplayer games bound to cassettes and a screen, have grown exponentially on the global scale through the internet with giants like Minecraft or combat games like Call of Duty across all digital platforms.
These games are not just limited to screens and consoles, but now are rapidly expanding across a variety of formats like Augmented and Virtual Reality.
Video games like these take us to an imaginary world that lets us be a part of something larger than life, but little do we acknowledge or even understand the effort that goes behind them. From an elaborate storyline to the development of characters, designing challenges, to finally working out the user interface, the design of a video game involves the intense engagement of professionals from technical, creative, and analytical fields.
A career as a video game designer includes planning, visualizing, designing, and executing concepts on a technical level, and simultaneously at a user level. Game designers work with a team of professionals that help them manage budgets, timelines, and work schedules to streamline the process of production. It is the job of a video game designer to be able to align their technical and creative skills to imagine, plan, test, and develop an idea successfully and deliver a cutting-edge game.
Key Qualifications to become a Video Game Designer
To become a videogame designer, one must have a balance of both technical and creative abilities, which might manifest into hard skills like becoming a pro in definite softwares or writing the perfect codes for a game or help develop essential soft skills like time management and building an efficient work-life balance. However, apart from the technical and creative skillset, to become a videogame designer, you also need pragmatic problem-solving skills and the ability to allow attention to detail.
While there is no formal educational requirement to become a videogame designer, interested candidates have a wide variety of options to complete a relevant degree in fields of science and technology. Some of the options include Bachelors of Science in Graphics, Animation and Gaming, Bachelors of Technology in Computer Science and Game Development, Masters of Science in Multimedia and Animation, or several Diplomas and Certificate Courses like Advanced Diploma in Game Art and 3D Game Content, Advanced Diploma in Game Design and Development Application, among many others.
The most popular design majors relevant for video game designers include:
- Bachelors of Science in Computer Science
- Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Entertainment
- Bachelor of Science in Game Design and Development
- Bachelor of Arts in Game Design
- Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Design
However, to land a well-paying and satisfying job in the overly competitive field of Video Game Design, the candidates must also have a substantial portfolio, along with meaningful work experience. They must also be self-motivated and passionate to keep learning in order to stay abreast with the rapidly evolving industry.
Best Online Courses for Video Game designers
Game Design and Development with Unity 2020 specialization, offered by the Michigan State University – on Coursera
This online course is meant for beginners who want to build the preliminary skill set for designing and developing games focussing on both, the theory and practice of game making in five modules from one of the top programs in North America. Through this course of five months, the learners are expected to build four complete Unity game projects while acquiring the knowledge and skills to navigate their way through the video game industry.
Become a Game Designer: The complete series from Coding to Design, offered by The School of Game Design – on Udemy
This course offers the chance to learn the beginner to expert levels techniques for 3D game development and design, computer animation, digital painting, and programming using programs like Maya, Unity, 3DSMax, Mudbox, and Photoshop.
Professional Certificate in Computer Science for Game Development, offered by the Harvard University – on edX
Career Scope for Video Game Designers
Video game designers are a part of a rapidly growing industry with a seemingly limitless demand with a bright and expanding future in India and across the world with steady growth in the job market irrespective of the economic turmoil. India has become a huge market for mobile gaming with a booming industry for game designers, whereas countries up the Global North like the US, UK, and Canada which house the headquarters of several console gaming giants are always on the lookout for talented designers and developers.
Upon graduating and acquiring the adequate skills to enter the professional field, most young graduates seek jobs as junior designers at a development studio but can diversify in the fields of computer science, digital art, and creative writing. While becoming the lead designer is the ultimate goal for most aspirants, their journey in the field of video game design includes becoming an Animator, Programmer, Audio Visual Engineer, Creative Game Director, QA Game tester, and even a PR/ Marketing Strategist.
With restrictions to movement and travel caused by the raging pandemic, the world has seen an enormous revival of online gaming which ensures immense professional growth for video game designers all over the world.
Best Countries to pursue Video Game Design as a Career
United States Of America
The US is home to nearly every major tech pioneer in the world and boasts of an enormous average salary for its video game design industry. Major metropolitan cities like San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, and Los Angeles have headquarters of gaming giants and offer employment to people from all over the world.
While living costs in the US can be on the higher extremities, these studios offer comparable salary packages starting at around 71,000 USD annually for entry-level professionals and going as high as 110,000 USD for senior professionals. The average median salary in the US for mid-level Video Game designers is approximately 94,000 USD.
Landing right behind the US in the second place is Switzerland, which is one of the very few countries in the world to offer a six-figure salary to their tech developers, owing largely to government grants in start-ups via the Commission for Technology and Innovation. Despite the extremely high standard of living, the country manages to offer a great compensation package along with a vibrant and conducive working environment for its designers.
The starting packages for video game designers here approximate to 92,000 CHF (100,000 USD) at the entry-level and rise to 148,300 CHF (161,000 USD) for the senior designers. The average median salary in Switzerland for mid-level Video Game designers is approximately 123,000 CHF (134,000 USD).
Vying to become a major tech hub, Sydney is one of the best cities for video game developers and has become a hub for skilled professionals from all over the world. Apart from brilliant career opportunities, Australia also offers a high standard of living at comparatively lower costs for its budding video game industry. The entry-level packages for video game designers here are approximately 92,000 AUD (68,450 USD) and rise up to 149,000 CHF (110,000 USD) for the senior designers. The average median salary in Australia for mid-level Video Game designers is approximately 123,000 AUD (91,000 USD).