How to Earn a Video Game Design Degree

Game design is a dream of many passionate computer players. If you are one of those players who is constantly thinking of ways to improve your gaming experience as you are playing, you may find game design degree programs to be the stepping stone to an exciting career path.

What Is a Game Art Degree?
A game art degree is a fairly new degree offering and can be earned as either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. An associate’s degree typically takes one to three years to complete. The prerequisite is a high school diploma. A bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete and also requires a high school diploma. Students entering these programs are usually avid gamers themselves. Both of these programs require significant gaming experience as well as a passion for the latest and greatest technological innovation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), required skills in this field are more comprehensive then just simply technical skills. Coursework would include classes in animation, communication, graphic design, management, programming, software development, and two- and three-dimensional modeling.

Entry-level openings for those with a degree in game design are generally for game designers. Advancement could be to a project manager or creative director. Advancement in this field is less tied to degree advancement as it is to on-the-job performance.

What Does a Game Designer Do?
According to the BLS, a designer writes the blueprint for a computer game, deciding the mission, theme, and rules of play. Designers need to have their pulse on current gaming trends and a passion for innovation. They need to be well-versed in the history of gaming as well. Because there is no specific coursework in these subjects, gaming experience is once again key in succeeding.

What Is the Future of Game Design?
The gaming industry is a booming industry. According to independent analyst firm The NPD Group, the summary of retail revenue in the U.S. in August 2010 was as follows:

  • Games and consoles: $818.9 million
  • Video game software: $403.5 million
  • Video game hardware sales: $828.5 million

Earnings are not tracked by the BLS. However, they fall under the umbrella of multi-media artist. The median annual earnings for a multi-media artist was $58,250 in 2009, significantly higher than the national median. Employment in this field is expected to grow 14 to 19 percent from 2008-2018, faster than the national rate. The states with the highest concentration of workers were California, Washington, New York, Minnesota, and Oregon.

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