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How to Become a Video Game Designer: Steps to Take From High School

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If you enjoy playing video games, becoming a video game designer may be a rewarding career path to consider.  Fortunately, there are many ways to become a video game designer and plenty of opportunities to grow once you’re established in a job you love.


In this post, we’ll outline the job description of a video game designer, as well as the suggested career path and steps you’ll need to take to become a successful video game designer—starting in high school.


What Does a Video Game Designer Do?


A video game designer works to create visual content for video games. They are responsible for developing the game’s design throughout the entire process—from conceptualization to the release date. This includes game mechanics, animation, narration, concept, storyline, characters, and other aspects that impact the user experience.


Video game designers often work closely with video game developers. Developers rely heavily on coding skills to program the creative aspects of video games that video game designers conceptualize. Designers may also work with a team of writers, animators, and testers to build a successful game.


Video game designers typically work in offices with designers, developers, and animators. Big gaming companies in the industry include Blizzard, Nintendo, and Microsoft.


Video game designers can work on various types of projects, including:


  • Console games
  • Computer games
  • Mobile games
  • Online games


Typically, this career path attracts creative, innovative, and enthusiastic individuals. You must be an excellent programmer, understand system design, and work well in a team setting with minimal oversight.


How Much Do Video Game Designers Make?


According to PayScale, the average salary of a video game designer is $66,217 per year.


Depending on years of experience and skillset, video game designers can make up to $103,000 per year. Video game designers who possess the following skills tend to make money than other designers:


  • Unreal Engine
  • Unity Engine
  • Documentation
  • 3D Animation
  • C# Programming Language

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How to Become a Video Game Designer: Steps to Take from High School


High School


Take computer and design classes


It’s important to take relevant classes in high school, like computer coding and graphic design classes, to prepare yourself for a career as a video game designer. It’s also essential to learn basic computer skills, like Microsoft Excel.


You should also maintain a high GPA and score well on the ACT or SAT to earn admission into a top college. Plus, if you’re already a gamer, you can check out some of these eSports scholarships to make money for college by doing something you love!


Be involved in extracurricular activities


Participating in extracurricular activities, clubs, camps, or internships related to design or computer programming are great way to prepare for a job as a video game designer.


If you’re looking to earn some industry experience before college, explore this list of computer science internships you can complete in high school. You’ll conduct hands-on research, connect with industry experts, and complete projects to give your college applications an extra boost.




Earn a Bachelor’s Degree


Although it’s not mandatory to have a college degree to obtain an entry-level job as a video game designer, it’s almost imperative to have a bachelor’s degree to continue to increase your salary and expand your job role.


If you’re interested in studying game design specifically, there are a handful of schools that offer a Bachelor’s Degree in Game Design. Some of these colleges include the University of Southern California, Boise State University, and the University of Texas at Dallas.


The coursework for a game design degree usually includes software engineering, 2D animation, 3D animation, computer design, and programming languages.


However, if your dream school isn’t on this list of colleges offering a game design major, don’t despair. You can earn your Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Animation, Computer Engineering, Graphic Design, or other related fields and still have a successful career as a video game designer.


Since video game designers have a wide range of degrees to choose from, you can focus on selecting a college that’s the best for you in other areas, including finances. Check out CollegeVine’s free chancing engine to discover your odds of acceptance at hundreds of schools based on your background, extracurricular activities, test scores, and more.



Do a relevant internship


Completing one or two internships in college will give you hands-on experience in the industry and add valuable skills to your resume. Internships also lead to professional connections, which will be advantageous to you when you’re looking for a job after college.


Search for internships in animation and software development or even video game design with a gaming company you can complete during your college career.


After College


Gain experience


Video game design is a highly competitive industry since there are a limited number of gaming companies that can hire a limited number of game designers. You may be lucky to score an entry-level job as a video game designer out of college, but you’ll likely need to gain some relevant experience in related industries first.


Working as a graphic designer, animator, or software developer can help you build a resume and a portfolio to attract potential employers.


While you’re working in related fields, you can look for volunteer opportunities that allow you to expand your design and programming skills. You can also use the resources on the internet to put your skills to work and build a small-scale game on your own.


Build a resume and portfolio


As previously mentioned, building a solid resume and portfolio is essential to landing a job as a video game designer.


Your resume should include your relevant work experience and also your hard and soft skills. Your hard skills include the platforms, software, and coding languages you are familiar with, and your soft skills include things like teamwork, documentation, and communication.


Your portfolio should incorporate any relevant projects you’ve worked on, and if possible, any games you’ve designed. You can include videos of gameplay, gaming reviews, and back-end programming.


Get an entry-level job


Hopefully, your awesome resume and portfolio will earn the attention of a video game company, and you can begin working as an entry-level video game designer.


Over time, you will have several options to specialize and grow in your career as a video game designer. Some of these roles include:


  • Lead UX Designer
  • Senior UX Designer
  • Senior Product Designer
  • User Experience Director
  • Senior Video Game Designer
  • Level Designer


Further Education


Boot camp


It’s less common for video game designers to return to school to further their education. Instead, video game designers can complete game design boot camps to expand their skillset. Boot camps are short programs that can last anywhere from eight weeks to several months that teach you new programming languages, different types of game design, and other skills that can help you grow as a video game designer.


However, a master’s degree in game design can help supplement work experience or boost your likelihood of growth in a high-profile company. 


Learn new skills


One of the most critical talents a video designer can develop is the willingness to teach themselves new skills. Even though self-guidance can’t replace a formal college education, there are dozens of online classes, videos, and other tools that video game designers can use to continue to keep their skills fresh.


Additionally, many organizations host workshops and seminars where you can learn more about design and development. It’s also beneficial for video game designers to stay current on industry news and trends, especially those interested in leadership, management, and other high-profile positions.

Short Bio
Brittany Sawyer is a graduate of Grand Canyon University, where she majored in Marketing and minored in Professional Writing. She works as a freelance copywriter and lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and her golden retriever, Sedona. When Brittany isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, trying new coffee shops, and traveling.