A Career As A Video Game Designer

By: Chase Dagan

Career Overview

Video Game Designers write the blueprints and plans for video games, they oversee all aspects of the game.

Most video games are developed by teams of workers. Usually, there is a lead programmer and a lead designer plus artists, musicians, and a lot of programmers. The lead designer develops the overall concept and feel of the game. Depending on the game, the lead designer develops a story line or rules.

It is the responsibility of the lead designer to produce a design document to explain the vision of the game in detail. This document includes the story line, charts, graphs, and sketches.

The lead designer is unlikely to create all of the art in the design document. The designer generally assigns this work to other game designers called level designers. These designers work on their assigned projects and meet with the lead designer to discuss their work. Designers must be able to communicate their ideas and needs clearly. They must also understand technology.

Career Skills and Interests


  • Listen to others and ask questions.
  • Express ideas clearly when speaking.
  • Read and understand work-related materials.

Reason and Problem Solve

  • Think of original, unusual, or creative ways to solve problems.
  • Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong.
  • Analyze ideas and use logic to determine their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Recognize the nature of a problem.

Manage Oneself, People, Time, and Things

  • Manage the time of self and others.
  • Check how well one is learning or doing something.

Work with People

  • Be aware of others’ reactions and understand the possible causes.
  • Persuade others to approach things differently.
  • Use several methods to learn or teach new things.

Work with Things

  • Write computer programs.
  • Analyze needs and requirements when designing products.

Perceive and Visualize

  • Imagine how something will look if it is moved around or its parts are rearranged.
  • Identify a pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in distracting material.
  • Quickly and accurately compare letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns.

Working Conditions

Interpersonal Relationships

  • Have a fairly high level of social interaction. They work with other designers throughout the day.
  • Are responsible for the work outcomes of other workers.
  • Occasionally are placed in conflict situations.
  • Almost always work as part of a team.

Physical Work Conditions

  • Always work indoors.
  • Must be accurate and exact when programming. Errors could impact a player's experience.
  • Sometimes repeat the same physical and mental activities.
  • May share office space with others.

Work Performance

  • Must be sure that all details of the job are done and their work is exact. Programming errors could cost the company money in lost time or data.
  • Must sometimes repeat the same physical and mental tasks.
  • Work in a competitive environment.
  • Must meet strict deadlines often.


  • Usually work more than 40 hours per week. Overtime is common.
  • Usually work a set schedule.

Wages and Outlook

Wages vary widely based on the video game designer's level of education and experience. In addition, wages vary by employer, type of game developed, and area of the country.

Video game designers often work long hours to meet deadlines. They are usually paid a salary, meaning they are not paid overtime for working more than 40 hours a week. Benefits also vary by employer. Full-time video game designers usually receive typical benefits. These include vacation, sick leave, health insurance, and a retirement plan.

Demand for video games is rising and the industry is growing.

Competition for jobs will be highly competitive. Prospects are best for those with a background in arts or computer programming.

Hourly- $41.63

Salary Wages- $109,770.00

Related Occupations

The Careers below are Similar to Video game Design and major in the arts and Technology fields.

- Computer Programing

- Web Design

- Multimedia Artists

- Graphic Designers

- Simulation programers

- Music composers and arrangers

Program of Study- Video Game Design

Game and interactive media design programs include topics such as:

  • Theory of games
  • Computer communications and networks
  • Computer graphics
  • Virtual worlds and simulation systems
  • Visual and interactive design
  • Animation
  • Computer Programming


Students in game and interactive media design programs may be able to specialize in modeling, virtual environments, and simulation.

Program Admissions

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

Here is a list of some of the high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

  • Art
  • Commercial Art
  • Computer Science and Programming
  • Creative Writing
  • General Computer Applications
  • Graphic Arts and Printing
  • Keyboarding

Program Typical Course Work

In this undergraduate program, you typically take courses such as the following:

  • 2D and 3D animation
  • Computer programming
  • Digital imaging
  • Drawing and anatomy
  • Game design
  • Game modeling
  • Level design
  • Scriptwriting

Graduate course work tends to vary depending on the program. However, the outline of a typical master's degree curriculum looks like the following:

  • Required core courses
  • Elective courses
  • Thesis and thesis defense

Related Programs

- Web Page Design

- Multimedia Design

College Choice
The Art Institutes of San Diego

This is my first college choise. It is in an Urban setting and has smaller class sizes.

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