Job Prospects and Career Outlook for Video Game Designers

June 18, 2020
When it comes to revenue, the game industry makes more than both Hollywood and the music industry! We all remember when Steven Moffat, the author of Doctor Who and Sherlock, took the stage during the 2014 BAFTA awards and said, “it’s extraordinarily rare to be around when a new art-form is being born.” He added, “Video games are going to own the future. I am here chiefly to crawl to my new bosses.” As it turns out, he was right. Today, the game industry is expected to reach a whopping $180.1 billion by 2021!

Video Game Designing is one such prominent wing of the game industry that happens to be both flourishing and gaining the attention of younger prospects. With approximately 287,200 video game designers in the United States, the video game designer’s job market is predicted to grow by 9.3% between 2016 and 2026. If you’re planning to make a career in this field, be sure to check out this article – it highlights the best career opportunities along with a few other exciting points!

Which States/Cities In the United States Offer the Best Career Growth Opportunities in Game Design?

The following cities have a promising number of game design studios (as of June 2020) in the United States:

  • San Francisco: Home to hippies, techies, fashionistas, and mesmerizing bay view, San Francisco has about 150 game studios!
  • Austin: With around 96 studios associated with video games, this place can be your go-to career hub.
  • Los Angeles: With a presence of about 148 studios, LA is just as exciting as it sounds for a career in game designing.
  • Seattle: There are approx. 107 studios in Seattle, you can start your game designing career here too.

With the video game design industries concentrated mainly in Texas, District of Columbia, and California, here’s what the job market looks like, state-by-state:

State Name Employed Video Game Designers
California 47,930
Texas 19,640
District of Columbia 17,020
Georgia 16,580
Illinois 16,050
Colorado 14,390
Pennsylvania 14,280
Maryland 13,840
Virginia 13,040
Florida 11,180
Washington 10,940
Michigan 9,780
New Jersey 9,470
Massachusetts 9,240
Ohio 7,900
Arizona 7,150
Oregon 6,740
Missouri 6,260
Minnesota 6,020
Utah 5,170
Wisconsin 3,750
Tennessee 3,620
Louisiana 3,340
Indiana 2,750
Nevada 2,710
Kentucky 2,590
Nebraska 2,430
Oklahoma 2,360
Iowa 2,180
West Virginia 1,900
Connecticut 1,880
Alabama 1,810
Hawaii 1,640
South Carolina 1,470
Kansas 1,430
Rhode Island 1,210
New Mexico 1,120
Idaho 960
Maine 820
North Dakota 810
Arkansas 750
Montana 640
Mississippi 600
Alaska 540
New Hampshire 540
Vermont 380
Puerto Rico 370
South Dakota 180
Wyoming 140
Guam 100

Source: https://www.careerexplorer.com/careers/video-game-designer/job-market/

Which are the Best Cities Across the Globe for Video Game Designing?

If you’re planning to go international after graduating from a good video game designing institute, here are some of the leading cities that you should know about:

  • London: With approx. 173 studios, this destination offers a myriad of job opportunities
  • Tokyo: A dense city in an island country, this city has some great opportunities for game enthusiasts with an approx. 146 studios.
  • Paris: Around 107 game studios find their home in Paris, you should definitely give this city a chance after graduating from a good video game design school.
  • Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto: With 91, 69, and 75 studios in each city respectively, heading up north could be an excellent option for a game designer looking for something new.

What’s a Video Game Designer’s Salary?

According to reports by Payscale.com, the median salary of a video game designer is $64,800. This figure may reduce or increase, depending on the value you deliver to the industry. Your salary as a video game designer may vary according to the years of work experience, employer, job title, and location.

video game designer avg salary

Source: https://www.gamedesigning.org/career/job-market/

According to Payscale.com, this is what the Top Game Design Employers offer:

salaries for video game designer

Source: https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Video_Game_Designer/Salary

What are the Career Opportunities in Video Game Design?

Game designing career opportunities are also determined by the kind of educational background you have. They also depend on your experience, passion, and, most importantly, how consistently you develop your game designing skills.

In terms of education, you can pursue either an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in game designing. Each of these opens up opportunities for entry-level position and intermediate level careers in game design, animation, and visualization. You can even find job opportunities in digital media production environments.

 

For example, a video game design bachelor’s degree from New England Institute of Technology can help you proceed as an entry-level to intermediate level position game designer, character artist, environmental artist, technical artist, level designer, or visual effects animator. On the other hand, an associate degree in video game design from this institute can help you become a junior game designer, quality assurance engineer or junior programmer.

 

Here Are Some of the Best Career Opportunities in Video Game Design

  • Video Game Designers:

Also known as game designers, video game designers can craft games for an array of formats, including consoles, wireless applications, internet, and mobile phones. They are the decision-makers for the entire design, purpose, and objective of the game. At times, a video game designer may specialize in specific game art and design areas such as the story line, characters, layout, and other areas of game design. A video game designer’s role may further include: developing gameplay ideas, maps, scenarios, different levels of difficulty, user interface (menus and controls) concepts, improving concepts, and current games.

  • Junior Video Game Designer:

After you graduate, you can start as a junior video game designer and then make your way up to the senior positions. The work would generally include collaborating with artists, programmers, and other designers to develop a vision for the game. A part of the role would also include partnering with senior game designers to create new concepts, changes, and characters. He/she may even help establish initial mock-ups and sketches for the graphic’s team.

  • Senior Game Designer:

As you climb up the video game designing career ladder and gain experience, your role would grow to include reviewing current games, setting up game design quality standards, and mentoring junior members of the team. This even includes collaborating with other senior game designers to tune, implement, as well as balance the gaming experience.

A senior game designer further helps the team analyze live game data, remain well-informed about the new industry trends, game genres, and designs. Other tasks apart from these significant responsibilities include developing and maintaining design documentation like mechanics, story, and guidelines.

  • Character Artists:

Modern gamers aren’t satisfied with just a good story and entertaining game functions – they want to see some impressive visuals! For this, game studios typically lean on character artists to develop quality visuals for the video game. This includes specializing in creating realistic human characters or fictional characters from a whole new universe.

Character artists are mentored by art directors and lead character artists to develop and create character assets for video games.

They even transform the ideas of concept artists into initial 2D illustrations. These designs then go to the art & design teams for revision and feedback.

Following this, the character artists model a 3D computer image, adding definition, color, and weight. Other tasks might include shading, texturing, and additional game development work.

  • Game Environment Artists:

Game environment artists create the entire world within the game. These engaging environments can be created with gaming software like Unity, Unreal Engine, etc. Artists should be familiar with modeling packages like 3ds Max, Maya, or Modo and other software like Photoshop.

Creating a game environment is a time-consuming process and requires video game design aspirants to start with developing smaller props like vehicles, cars, and weapons, and more. As you get deeper into this role, you’ll likely find yourself creating and developing the entire game environments in just a few years. To add to this, a game environment artist also needs to showcase excellent texturing, composition, level beautification colors, lighting, and other technical and artistic skills. Glassdoor reports suggest an environment artist’s salary to be: $61,095/year, on average.

  • Game Testers/Video Game Quality Assurance:

A game testers’ role is to identify any potential bugs in the game. This role includes identifying any code that doesn’t work. By thinking a little outside of the box, a video game tester can interact with the gaming world in a way that game developers wouldn’t expect or anticipate. This is especially crucial in games like Skyrim, in which there are millions of combinations of player actions. As you might know, in this game, there’s no limit to how players interact with objects, characters, and the environment. As  a game quality assurance tester, you’ll identify bugs to make the game more seamless and enjoyable for players! On an average, a video game tester can make $55,030 a year.

  • Level Designer:

By working under the supervision of a senior level designer, a level designer helps create the entire environment of a game level. This even includes making the video game assets as well as characters that inhabit it. A level designer’s skills span across areas of imagination and storytelling – they create the chapters in a game that excite the players to move ahead and progress in a particular video game.

Level designers have to continually be in touch with level artists, character artists, programmers, and other team members to ensure the best ideas and concepts are integrated into the game. A major responsibility of a level designer is to create the design documents that outline and detail the list of required assets along with objectives and environment layouts. Level designers can make approximately $58,615 annually, according to Payscale.com.

The Importance of Having a Game Design Degree from a Good Institute

Careers and job prospects in game designing require you to have adept skills and knowledge of the industry. This can be gained through a good game design degree – an associate that can further help you enroll in a bachelors. Both of these are provided by the New England Institute of Technology with state-of-the-art course work and is known for:

Princeton review recognized New England Tech among the top 15 colleges for video game design. If you want h to build a promising career in video game designing, enroll today!

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