Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a game designer, top game design colleges, average game designer salary & earnings, video game designer degree requirements, degrees for video game design, and what you can do with a game design degree.
Becoming a Game Designer
A game designer is someone who can confidently think out interactive and engaging game ideas, write and sketch it on paper then develop it into digital reality with the aid of programming skills.
Gaming in one form or the other has existed as entertainment since the very inception of the human race.
Starting with the Colosseums of the Roman era where gladiatorial contests took place, to today’s modern virtual gaming, people have been spending their spare time enjoying engrossing games.
From real-life brutal fights of the Roman time period, the world has evolved into a virtual one where the characters in the games deal with the competitions and the people simply get the pleasure of enjoying a good game without getting physically affected.
Right now, the gaming industry is doing well, even during the awful pandemic hit that caused loads of people to suffer from hypertension and depression.
It would not be wrong to say that gaming has saved a lot of people by keeping their sanity intact during this global pandemic.
Those who have indulged in serious gaming and have played many games may want to change many things in a game. For that, they would have to learn how to develop a game of their own.
Then, they can either get a job in a designing studio or start their own video game development business.
They can equip themselves with gaming tech such as a gaming PC, gaming chair, gaming headset, or even coolers to keep the processor cool and most importantly the best gaming monitor under 300 to enjoy an immersive gaming experience.
With the increasing rate at which games are being made, universities around the world have started offering Certificate, Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees, specializing in Game Software Development, Video Game Design and Development, etc.
However, there are certain criteria that you must fulfill in order to pursue your passion for gaming.
Video Game Designer Degree Requirements
Universities’ prerequisite for students to enroll as videogame designer:
- Must Meet Basic Age Requirement
- Must possess a satisfactory English test requirement score(If coming from countries not using English as a basic language for teaching)
- Must Meet Specified Academic Requirements
- Must Posses a Student Permit (If international Student)
- Must Meet Other Degree Requirements Specified by the University
The basic requirement for getting enrolled in a University for getting a Bachelor’s degree in video gaming is to have 10+2 years of education from a recognized board/college/university. At this level, the universities accept students from any discipline whether Arts, Science, or Commerce.
Standardized tests like SAT and TOEFL scores are also taken into consideration while offering the Game Design courses.
If any student wants to pursue an education in game development further, they can enroll in a Master’s program provided they have attained a Bachelor’s degree in any form of Game designing along with a good score from standardized tests like GRE and TOEFL.
For getting enrolled in a certificate or minor program, the requirements vary from university to university. So, specific details can be obtained from the university you want to obtain the required certification from.
Degrees for Video Game Design
Undergraduate Degrees for Video Game Design
- Bachelor of Science in game design and development
- Bachelor of Arts(B.A) in Interactive Entertainment
- BS in Computer Science (CS) with EAE Emphasis
- BSc(Hons) in Computer Gameplay, Design, and Production
- BS in Computer Science and Real-Time interactive simulation
Postgraduate Degrees for Video Game Design
- Master of Fine Arts(MFA) in Interactive Media
- Master of Science(MS) in Computer Science with specialization in Game Design
- MFA in Digital Arts
- Master of Entertainment Arts and Engineering (MEAE)
- Dual MBA/MEAE Program
Game Designer Salary
On average, a game designer working with a good game design company earns between $40,000 to $150,000 yearly in salaries.
However if the game designer is so skillful that he can stand alone or form a team with his game design friends to develop games on their own without having to work for any company, they could make over $200,000 yearly depending on how widely their games go.
Contents of Video Game Design Degree or Program
From the video game designing or program, students learn about all the different aspects of game development. It would consist of all the tools and technologies used for gaming, game theory, animation, game design, and programming.
Some of the top universities or colleges that offer courses in game development are listed below. You can choose the one that you find appropriate for yourself to enroll yourself in and pursue your passion of becoming a game developer.
Top Game Design Colleges
University of Southern California
University of Southern California is one of the top game design colleges sort after by many game design enthusiasts across the globe with a number of well-to-do alumni in the game industry today.
This university has many affiliated colleges that offer programs for game designers.
The university also has affiliations with the industry as it is connected with USC Warner Bros. Archives and the Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive, the GamePipe Laboratory, sponsored by Sony, Intel, and other technology companies. Hence, it is considered as one of the top-rated colleges for game designers.
University of Southern California Degrees for Video Game Design
- Bachelor of Arts(B.A) in Interactive Entertainment – This program lays the foundation for basic liberal arts that leads to a specialization in the design of interactive entertainment and games.
- Bachelor of Science(B.S) in Computer Science with specialization in Games – The curriculum includes video game programming, computer animation, visual design for games and interactive media, game engine programming, and game design. The final projects made by the students of game projects span over two semesters.
- Master of Fine Arts(MFA) in Interactive Media – This is a rigorous 3-year program that focuses on the development of skills such as Game Design, Critical Studies, Screenwriting, Sound Production, Animation, and Critical Studies.
- Master of Science(MS) in Computer Science with specialization in Game Design – This program develops skills of the students in computer science and game development, especially focusing on game development infrastructure, cognition and games, immersion, and serious games.
- Minors – students can do minors in Game Entrepreneurism, Game Audio, Game User Research. This University also offers minors in Themed Entertainment, Video Game Programming, Game Design, Game Animation, and 3D Computer Modeling and Graphics.
University of Utah, USA
The University of Utah is one of the best game design colleges in the US and across the globe for American and international students.
This university provides an opportunity for students to become professional game developers by offering a wide variety of courses. The programs offered by the university are as follows:
University of Utah Degrees for Video Game Design
BS in games (BSG)
This program enables the students to develop skills in the design and production of entertainment software, games-based learning environments for K-12 students, professional task-training tools, serious games for health, and scientific association or other factors that may deal with serious societal needs.
Hence, the BSG program prepares students for technical supervision, tools development, and overall game design.
BS in Computer Science (CS) with EAE Emphasis
This program is offered in combination with the school of computing.
The courses covered in this program include video game design and development, 3D animation, and computer-generated special effects, along with a full Computer Science curriculum.
The students who complete this program can go on successfully to become video game engineers, digital media artists, etc.
Master of Entertainment Arts and Engineering (MEAE)
During this program, the students stay together for the two-year course. The specialization done in this program includes:
- Game Arts – It consists of design, drawing, 2D and 3D asset creation, animation, and storyboarding for games.
- Game Engineering – It comprises game engines, graphics, artificial intelligence, and novel input devices.
- Game Production – It offers the students to either select game creation or focus on project management, design, business development/marketing, or any combination of the three.
- Technical Art – It provides training in 3D modeling, rigging, motion capture, and game programming.
Dual MBA/MEAE Program
In this 84-credit hour program, students will learn to design, create, and then publish their own game through EAE’s studio simulation program.
They will also learn the business skills required for starting a game business on their own. Sample Game Engineering and Production courses include:
- C++ Game Programming
- Game Systems Design
- Experimental Game Play
- Game Engineering I, II & III
- Mobile Games Pipeline
- Narrative in Game Design
- Paper Prototyping for Games
- Rapid Prototyping
- User Experience
- User Interface
Minor in Games
For doing Minor in games, there is no restriction of a specified qualification. Students from any discipline who are interested in studying gaming can enroll in this program.
To successfully complete this program, students must attend a total of 24 credit hours with a minimum of 12 upper-division hours. Through this program, students learn game arts, the game pipeline, and programming.
DigiPen Institute of Technology, USA
DigiPen is one of the most popular top game design colleges in the USA and beyond. This institute is supported by Nintendo, the world’s most recognized game developers.
Here, students attain real-time working experience in the game development center. The courses offered in this institute include:
DigiPen Institute of Technology Degrees for Video Game Design
Bachelor of Fine Arts(BFA) in Digital Art and Animation
Through this program, students are able to learn the fundamentals of artistry moving on to a deep understanding of production pipelines and finally create projects including high-quality games or animation movies.
BA in Game Design
This is a collaborative program involving social sciences, humanities, and game theory as part of the coursework.
The students are able to polish their skills for creating meaningful and appealing experiences for a variety of games, applications, and interactive media.
BA in Music and Sound Design
This program is a combination of foundational coursework in music, history, theory, composition, and performance along with practical training in studio recording and sound design for games, VR, film, and other digital media.
MFA in Digital Arts
Through this program, the students can further polish their digital media skills and specialize in new areas to produce extraordinary work leading to an individual thesis project.
BS in Computer Science and Real-Time interactive simulation
This program is pretty aspiring for game developers as a lot of emphasis is laid on games and graphical simulations.
BS in Computer Science and Game Design
This program offers a degree that is a combination of computer programming and game design.
BS in Computer Science and Digital Audio
In this program, students study computer engineering and the development of digital audio systems for video games along with interactive media, studio recording techniques, sound design, and music theory.
Digipen has campuses in Singapore and Spain also to offer similar programs to students who want to learn game development techniques.
The Singapore Campus offers a degree program of BA in Game design that encompasses subjects like Drawing, Animation Techniques, Game Mechanics, Design Documentation, etc.
The Spain Campus offers the degree programs of BFA in Digital Art and Animation & BS in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation.
Staffordshire University, UK
Staffordshire University is recognized as one of the top game design colleges across the globe. It is worthy to note that this University is termed as the top University of UK by Alphr for learning Game Design.
It collaborates with Epic Games to ensure that students get access to advanced equipment for the purpose of attaining exceptional skills. The programs offered by this university include:
Staffordshire University Degrees for Video Game Design
B.Sc(Hons) in Computer Games Design and Programming
This program is certified by The Independent Game Developers’ Association (TIGA) which represents the gaming industry. Students learn to create game designs, 3D models and animations, and manipulation and creation of game engines.
B.Sc(Hons) in Computer Games Programming
In this program, students develop their skills and use professional software and hardware tools developing skills to create invigorating games.
B.Sc(Hons), B.Eng(Hons) in Computer Games Design
The students sharpen their skills to become 3D animators & artists, and Game Designers.
B.Sc(Hons) in Computer Games Development
Through this program, students learn skills to set up their own game studio or get appointed as a programmer in some leading studio.
BA(Hons) in Games Art
This is quite an innovative program where students learn to develop many skills ranging from environment and character creation to props, vehicle, and weaponry design.
In this program, students study about games, the gaming industry & the players and also conduct discussions & research on them.
BA(Hons) Games Art and Film
This program is for those students who have strong drawing & painting skills and are interested in concept creation and game arts.
BSc(3D Computer Games Design)
This course is for artists and designers who want to excel as a 3D artist or a theory-based game designer.
This course teaches the students advanced techniques to use as a character, environment, or vehicle and weapon artist in order to prepare them for a bright future career.
Students completing the course can pursue their career as a game designer, level designer, mission scripter, game tester, character artist, environment modeler, vehicle artist, producer, user interface artist, and teaching games design/games academic.
BA(Hons) Games PR and Community Management
This course prepares the students to become game community managers of the future. Digital Institute of London offers this course separately as well.
During the course, the students would learn to create gaming content and campaigns for many outlets ranging from gaming communities to social media.
They will also explore and create innovative 360 games PR campaigns encompassing social media, influencer outreach, events, consumer media, specialist games press, trade PR, and working with third parties and partners.
BSc(Hons) in Computer Games Design(Digital Institute of London)
In this course, the students develop their skills to become professionals in computer games design. Being connected to the industry, where the students get an opportunity to have access to an industry-grade computer suite and software such as 3DS Max, Substance and Unreal engine as well as the Twine narrative games engines.
Graduates of this course are in great demand and get an opportunity to work as game designers, 3D artists, 3D animators, level designers, and technical artists.
BSc(Hons) in Computer Gameplay, Design, and Production
This program provides opportunities for the students to become game designers who create exciting and experimental games.
BSc(Hons) in Sound Design
This cross-curricular and collaborative program allows the students to explore the creation of sound and music for film, TV, animation, games, theatre, and radio.
The students also have access to world-class recording and post-production facilities, including professional sound studios, Foley pit, and TV studio.
BSc(Hons) in CGI and visual effects
This program of Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) and Visual Effects is for those students who want to study the creative and technical skills for creating amazing special effects for film, television, games, and advertising.
Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands
Oe more University on our list of top game design colleges in the world is Hanze University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands.
This University is famous for its applied research and innovation in its integrated programs. B.S in Communication and Multimedia Design can be done from this university with a Major in Game Design. The skills focused on are Game Development, Game production, 2D, and 3D artwork.
Choosing a career and then developing skills is a pretty difficult decision as you need to take into consideration your aptitude and interest as well.
If you end up studying something in which you cannot put your heart and soul into, then you would never be satisfied with your performance nor get the pleasure or comfort out of what you do.
These programs of game designing and development offer a great opportunity to you for selecting between top game design colleges, the area of your choice and specialize in it to obtain a degree in the field you have your passion for. No doubt, you’ll end up successful and satisfied.
Guest Author Bio
Aaron likes to keep himself updated about all the gaming related news. He can be found writing articles and reviewing gaming tech for Gaming Verge.