Video game designers represent a unique fusion of artist and programmer. They create the hottest new game titles in a variety of genres, including fantasy, sports, combat, education and fashion design.
Video Game Designer Prerequisites
High school students who consider themselves aspiring video game designers should follow a college preparatory or technical track curriculum, including:
- Advanced mathematics, such as analytic geometry, linear algebra, trigonometry and calculus
- Computer programming classes
- Writing and liberal arts classes
- SAT or ACT prior to admission. Most colleges and universities require you to submit your scores when applying.
Video Game Designer Degrees and Certifications
Bachelor's degrees: While the type of degree can vary, a four-year degree is necessary for an entry level position designing video games, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A college curriculum meant to meet video game designer requirements usually blends computer and game design theory with contemporary programming languages. As you choose an undergraduate or graduate degree program that will meet video game designer education requirements, there are several approaches you can take. You can pursue a degree in computer programming, computer science, art and design, or visual communications with an emphasis in video game design.
You can also take the more lucrative computer programming route, by learning C and C++, as well as at least one assembly language. Other courses you'll want to take during a computer programming degree include:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) programming
- Graphical User Interface (GUI)
- Environmental process engineering
- Behaviors and effects engineering
- Project management and team collaboration are other important skills to work on during your studies.
Candidates with a bachelor's or master's degree in computer programming, computer science or design with a video game concentration will be best prepared to enter the field.
Video Game Designer Additional Requirements
Computer certifications, such as Java, C++ and Flash are also helpful. Once you are in college, an internship in video game design or programming is worth pursuing as it can help you build your reel and possibly lead to video game designer careers.
A demo reel or design portfolio is an important element that employers look for in would-be video game designers. Reels should show evidence of scenes, levels or complete games that you've designed or contributed to as a team member. A portfolio is appropriate for those who want to enter the field as artists, animators or 3-D modelers. Specific video game designer requirements vary depending on the company or internship to which you are applying. Find out the requirements well in advance of application time, so that you can assemble the correct materials and put your best foot forward.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Graphic Designers, Sept. 24, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, May 2013," Computer Programmers, Sept. 24, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/CURRENT/oes151131.htm
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, May 2013," Software Developers, Sept. 24, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151133.htm
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, BS Degree in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences, Sept. 24, 2015, http://www.hass.rpi.edu/pl/bs-degree-games-simulation-arts-science
- Rochester Institute of Technology: Game Design and Development MS, Sept. 24, 2015. http://www.rit.edu/emcs/programoverviews/home/computing-information-sciences/item/game-design-and-development-ms