With the ever-growing popularity of video games and esports, a video game design degree is looking like a lucrative career option for up-and-coming students.
More and more colleges are tapping into these new trends and offering video game majors and gaming classes. Video game degrees have expanded to include game design, game development, and traditional computer science degrees that focus on game design.
So, if you love video games or drawing or designing things, you can and should consider a degree in video game design. It’s also an interesting way to get into esports and capitalize on the growth of competitive gaming in recent years. If you’re skeptical, take a look at some professional gamer salaries. They’re on the rise, and so are career opportunities for video game designers.
In this article, we are going to talk about how to become a video game designer and which educational programs can help you achieve your goals in this field. But first, let’s get the basics out of the way.
What Does a Video Game Designer Do?
The key role of a video game designer is to create a virtual world that players are excited to interact with. This, of course, comes with dozens of subtasks.
Here’s a basic rundown of what you can expect:
- World design: theme and surroundings
- Content design: concept, plot, characters and missions
- System design: rules and patterns
- Audio design: voices and sounds
- User interface design: buttons and menus
- Story design: dialogues and scripts
A professional game designer should possess the following skills and knowledge:
- Basic skills in drawing and design
- Strong coding skills
- Strong imagination and creativity
- Knowledge of design platforms
- Fluency in 2D and 3D design packages
- Mastery of video game structure
How to Get into Game Design
Of course, the previous section is a simplified version of what game designers need to succeed. If you want to start designing games, there is a lot you’ll have to learn. Some of this stuff is learned from experience and some of it needs to be taught.
Below, you’ll find some really helpful tips if you’re looking to get into game design.
Define your goals
Do you want to design console games, arcade games, or smartphone games? Should you go for a career in MMORPG, sports, adventure, or puzzle games? Do you like single- or multiplayer games? Ideally, the types of games you’re interested in designing should align to the ones that you actually enjoy playing. However, not all game designers are players.
If you love mobile platforms and want to start with something simple, then you can set yourself up for iOS and/or Android game design, etc. It’s important to let your interests guide your goals.
Start designing games on paper
If you do not know design software or programming languages yet, but have a game concept in your head, start sketching it out with a pencil and paper. According to Raph Koster, a professional game designer with more than 20 years of experience, you should remember that “games are not their graphics… they are their rules. You can start making games with whatever you have to hand.”
Learn the basics of programming languages
If you have a basic understanding of programming languages or coding skills, you can start your career in an entry-level position as a junior coder with a company that produces video games.
Build a portfolio
Every designer should have an online portfolio, and video game designers are no exception. Take advantage of each project that you participated in, even on a voluntary basis, and highlight it in your portfolio. The content of a video game designer portfolio may include simple games that demonstrate the knowledge of programming, illustrations of game worlds, scripts and stories, and so on.
Get into esports
If you enjoy gaming and want to become a game designer, then it would be helpful for you to study the ins and outs of popular games by actually playing them. It’s not necessary to become a top gamer; however, you can participate in a couple of tournaments just to experience the game and see how everything is designed in it.
Another option is to join the JKCP esports summer camp. During this camp, students attend gaming classes with professional instructors. They also train to compete in a final tournament, playing games like Dota 2, Overwatch, Starcraft, Rocket League, and many more.
Choose the type of the game you enjoy or the design you like most, and polish your gaming skills to help your future game designing career.
Consider video game design colleges
When it comes to video game design today, it is difficult to learn this subject from scratch. Over the past several years, many educational institutions across the US have added game design courses to their programs.
Before that, game designers studied computer science, attended film schools, or studied on their own. But the times are changing and formal education is gaining momentum for video game designers as well. Therefore, we recommend that you explore colleges offering video game majors and consider enrolling.
Future game designers have a wide range of options to choose from – traditional colleges and universities, boot camps, private art schools, online courses, etc. – depending on their preferences.
Video Game Schooling
If you’re looking for game design courses and have time only in summer, we recommend the following programs for prospective video game designers at JKCP:
Video Game Revolution - This course is offered as one of the Enrichment and Xploration modules, where students can choose two subjects of interest and attend morning and afternoon classes on those subjects. The course instructor will provide hands-on training in video game development.
You will study the history of gaming and get an opportunity to play industry-defining games at each step along the way – including some on rare consoles that you have may have never heard of. Delve into the technology that distinguishes one gaming system from another and safely discover how the world interacts through online and open source gaming.
During the second week, you will be designing and building your own web app. This course is a great starting point for those who are thinking of how to become a videogame developer.
Explore a career in video game design
If you want to become a video game designer, then we have good news for you – there are a wide range of opportunities that will get you into game design, be it getting a video games degree, becoming a pro gamer, or attending a summer boot camp.
It’s up to you to choose the path that suits you best. Check out the full list of Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs, and find something that aligns with your interests or career goals.