How to Become a Video Game Designer

| Liz Simmons

How to Become a Video Game Designer
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A career in video game design may appeal to creative, artistic, and tech-savvy people who like telling stories. As the popularity of video games grows, the demand for skilled video game designers will likely increase.

The video game industry generated $151.06 billion in 2019. Market research firm Grand View Research projects yearly revenue to grow to $291.16 billion by 2027.

This page explains how to become a video game designer, including education, experience, and certification requirements.

What Is a Video Game Designer?

People in many different roles collaborate to create video games, but the game designer is one of the most important.

A video game designer comes up with a game's storyline, characters, rules, and overall concept. Daily responsibilities may include writing game documentation, brainstorming storyline ideas, and taking part in team meetings for new games under development.

Designers work with game developers, programmers, writers, and artists. Because they work with so many other people, video game designers need excellent communication and teamwork skills. Video game designers usually work for small or large video game publishers and studios. Major video game companies include Sony, Tencent Games, Nintendo, and Microsoft.

What Education Do Video Game Designers Need?

The industry does not set specific education requirements for video game designers. Still, many employers prefer applicants with a college degree. A bachelor's degree in computer science, video game design, or video game development can help students develop the skills and knowledge to succeed in video game design.

Not all video game designers go to college. Some professionals complete game design bootcamps or certificate programs. Others get relevant on-the-job training and experience in other tech positions.

With industry technology constantly evolving, video game designers need to keep up with new developments and trends. Game designers can stay current with the field by joining professional organizations, subscribing to industry publications, and taking ongoing workshops and trainings.

How Much Experience Do Video Game Designers Need?

Experience requirements for a video game designer vary by employer. Some companies may hire designers without previous experience. However, job applicants with some hands-on game design background can stand out from candidates without any experience.

Students can get experience while still in school by completing an internship or capstone course. Degree programs and bootcamps often include these types of real-world opportunities.

In some cases, education can substitute for experience and vice versa. Video game companies are usually most concerned that potential employees hold the skills required to do the job. This is why a strong portfolio of work can be so important.

Certifications

Professional certifications are optional in video game design. However, certifications alongside a portfolio can help prove your skills and knowledge to potential employers. College certificate programs differ from professional certifications.

Certifications for video game designers and developers usually focus on specific technologies and game engines, like Unity. We describe three popular Unity certifications below.

Unity Certified Associate Game Developer: This certification for game developers demonstrates competency in Unity concepts and skills. The certification exam covers topics like animation, audio, programming, and game art principles. Prerequisites include experience with C# in Unity.

Unity Certified Associate Artist: To qualify for this certification, video game artists need 2-3 semesters of postsecondary Unity coursework. Candidates can also qualify through self-study. Applicants must know how to install and configure Unity software. The exam covers asset management; scene content design; and lighting, cameras, materials, and effects.

Unity Certified Associate Programmer: This certification for video game programmers demonstrates programming, asset management, and debugging skills. Prerequisites include 2-3 semesters of post-secondary Unity coursework or self-study. Candidates should be able to deploy a basic build and interpret existing code.

How Do I Become a Video Game Designer?

There are many paths to becoming a video game designer. The requirements for a video game designer vary by employer. Unlike other fields with specific education and experience-related requirements, video game design is a much more flexible industry.

Some video game designers earn a college degree in video game design, video game development, or computer science. Earning a bachelor's degree in one of these disciplines usually takes four years of full-time study. Other designers may complete a video game design bootcamp, certificate, or professional certification. These options can take less time than a degree.

Below, we describe the steps to become a video game designer with several potential pathways included.

Steps to Becoming a Video Game Designer

Bachelor's Degree Path

  • Earn a Bachelor's Degree in a Related Field. Many video game companies like to hire designers with a bachelor's degree in video game design, video game development, computer science, or a related field. Completing a bachelor's degree usually takes about four years.
  • Gain Internship or Entry-Level Job Experience. Many college programs require an internship or capstone course. These experiences let students apply their classroom knowledge to real-world scenarios. Graduates can also pursue entry-level jobs in information technology or the video game industry.
  • Pursue Industry Certifications. Certification is not required in video game design, but it can help job applicants stand out from the competition. Earning a video game certification shows mastery in specific areas of the field. Applicants usually need to pass an exam to earn certification.

Bootcamp Path

  • Earn a Bachelor's Degree in an Unrelated Field (Optional). Although not always required, some video game designers start out with a bachelor's degree in another field.
  • Complete a Video Game Design Bootcamp. A video game design or related bootcamp can teach industry-required knowledge and skills. Bootcamps often demand less time and money than a typical college degree program.
  • Gain Internship or Entry-Level Job Experience.
  • Pursue Industry Certifications.

Self-Taught Path

  • Earn a Bachelor's Degree in an Unrelated Field (optional).
  • Teach Yourself Video Game Design Skills. Learn video game design fundamentals on your own. You can find self-teaching tools online. You can also enroll in preparatory classes through professional organizations.
  • Gain Internship or Entry-Level Job Experience.
  • Pursue Industry Certifications.

The Job Hunt

Finding the right video game designer position can take time and hard work. Places to look for potential jobs include job fairs and annual conferences. Many professional organizations also offer job search support. College students can look for job boards and professional development resources at their school's career office.

Make sure to let your network know that you are looking for work. Consider asking for recommendations from mentors. Former professors, internship supervisors, and managers from previous jobs may be able to help.

Aspiring video game designers can find many positions posted on online job boards. Below, we describe five top job boards that feature opportunities in the video game industry.

  • Game Job Hunter: This popular video game job board lets job-seekers search by city and keyword. Candidates can also specify if they are looking for full-time, contract, or freelance positions or internships.
  • Gamesindustry.biz Jobs Board: This job board posts openings in the video game industry. Job-seekers can also post their CVs, discover company profiles, and subscribe to personalized job alerts.
  • Game Jobs Direct: Created in 2011, Games Jobs Direct connects job candidates with video game studios. Its database includes more than 3,000 postings.
  • Indeed: One of the biggest job boards online, Indeed welcomes more than 250 million visitors each month. Job-seekers can find video game design openings by using a keyword search.
  • Glassdoor: A major online job board, Glassdoor helps people looking for jobs learn about their market worth and research potential employers.

Questions About Video Game Design Requirements


How do you become a video game designer?

Some game designers start by earning a bachelor's degree in video game design, computer science, or a related field. Other designers teach themselves or enroll in a bootcamp to develop job-ready skills.

Can anyone become a video game designer?

Yes, anyone can become a video game designer. Although many designers hold college degrees and industry experience, some self-taught video game designers get hired without formal education or training.

What are the education requirements for a video game designer?

There are no formal education requirements for video game designers. However, many video game companies prefer job applicants with a bachelor's degree and professional experience. Some game designers develop necessary skills by completing a professional certification or bootcamp.

How do I get a job in video game design?

Video game design is a competitive field. To increase your chances of finding a job in the field, ask for recommendations from mentors, attend networking events, and search for openings in online job boards.


Featured Image: EvgeniyShkolenko / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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