Designing Video Games – Hot Career Or Just a Fad?


Young technology enthusiasts often see a career as a video game designer their dream job, and it certainly can be! But is it right for you?

Despite what many people think, designing video and computer games is not all fun and games. Most of it is very hard work with the three main parts of the process consisting of art, story line/plot, and programming. Video game designers must become an expert in one aspect of the process, but rarely in more than one due to the complexity and expertise required.

Video game designers work on games for consoles, computers, and portable devices. They also work on virtual reality games and programs. A video game designer is certainly a highly rewarding career that offers many opportunities. Video games are a multi billion dollar industry and the thirst for new games is becoming greater each year as stay at home entertainment becomes a larger industry than ever before.

You may be asking yourself, what qualities and skills are needed for a career as a video game designer?

The answer to this question will depend on what aspect of the design process you wish to involve yourself in. For example:

– Art concept: These are the people who draw the initial designs of characters and settings. You will need a highly creative artistic streak and drawing and/or computer graphics talent.

– Graphic/3D design: These people take the sketches and create them on the computer in 3D using complex programs. You will need excellent graphic design and computer software skills

– Story creators: These people create the entire plot of the game. You will need to be a good writer and a creative story teller with a great imagination.

– Programmer: Programmers bring the game together by coding the entire back end of the application. This is complex work that is generally done in languages like C, C++ and other object oriented programming languages.

– Project manager: After you have gained experience in one or more fields of game design you may consider managing an entire project which involves making sure deadlines are met and team members are on track.

As you might imagine, video game designers generally play a lot of games. They stay on top of new games and keep track of what consumers are interested in. That is the fun part of game design – you must play a lot of games in order to gain new ideas. The process of making the games is difficult and complex, however it is exciting as you create something from the ground up and watch sales grow as people buy your game.

Average Game Designer Salary

The average game designer salary varies depending on the specific field of work. There are many different departments in game design corporations. Some of the most popular positions are:

– Artists
– Animators
– Lead Artists
– Game Designers
– Lead Designers
– Programmers
– Lead Programmers
– Technical Directors
– Audio Designers
– Music Composers
– Video Game Testers
– Lead Game Testers

The video game industry is one which is particularly vulnerable to industry ups and downs but it is currently going through resurgence, with video game sales on the increase thanks to the popularity of consoles like Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as well as portable devices like the PS3.

The average salary is dependent on experience and position. Video game testers, although considered to have the most enjoyable job (often this is not the case though!) may earn the least. In fact, the average video game tester salary starts at just $25,000 although it can reach as high as $40,000. The lead game tester can earn between $40,000 and $60,000.

The highest paid people in video game design, besides CEO’s, are the Lead Programmers and Technical Directors. Lead programmers can command anywhere from $75,000 to $100,000. It takes several years experience in a regular game programming environment in order to take on the lead position. Technical directors have a lot of responsibility and earn between $90,000 to $120,000 per year.

The people who do the brunt of the work are the artists and animators (average salary is $40,000 to $70,000), game designers ($40,000 to $70,000), Programmers ($50,000 to $90,000) and audio/musicians ($65,000 to $90,000). Lead positions in these fields command an extra $20,000 or more on the regular salary.

After an employee has more than 5 years experience in the video game designer industry they are likely to be earning close to $100,000 per year, particularly if their skills have been growing and they are working for a leading game development company. Some of the most sought after video game developers to work for include:

– Electronic Arts
– Sony
– Blizzard
– Activision
– Atari
– Funcom
– Hasbro Interactive
– id Software
– Infogrames
– Konami
– Lionhead Studios
– Microsoft Game Studios
– Nintendo
– Rockstar Games

As you can see, it costs quite a sum of money to employ an entire team to make one game. The return on investment in the current market is excellent which means that game makers will continue hiring game designers and paying them very well.

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