How To Become A Video Game Designer

With your TROY master’s degree in computer science, you’ll be able to design, prototype, code and test games, along with a host of other abilities.

With your TROY master’s degree in computer science, you’ll be able to design, prototype, code and test games, along with a host of other abilities.

If you’re looking for an artistic, challenging and varied career involving computer science, put video game design at the top of your list. Video game designers use computer programming and software tools along with art and storytelling to create immersive worlds and storylines for game players.

With an estimated 3.24 billion gamers across the globe, the industry needs creative and technical professionals to fill numerous video game design jobs. How can you break into this rapidly evolving field? With a combination of creative and technical skills, problem-solving, collaboration and, of course, a passion and appreciation for video games. 

Before we take a dive deep into how to become a video game designer, here’s more about what the job entails and what’s happening in the video game industry.

What Do Video Game Designers Do?

As a video game designer, you may create software, design game levels, work on storylines and characters, and test or fix glitches. You may build prototypes, work with hardware, or refine the user experience or interface. Video game designers work alongside other artists, programmers, developers, and testers to create engaging characters and stories. Their responsibilities can include programming, graphic design, user interface design and more.

Additionally, video game designers can work with systems, software, visual artwork or gameplay. They may work on consoles, computers, mobile devices or streaming platforms. Some video game designers choose to specialize in a facet of game design, such as consoles, game levels, landscapes or artificial intelligence. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can enhance video games by making them more dynamic, realistic and immersive with its advanced generative and creative abilities. In video game careers, designers can help determine how AI will be used, write code for AI and use it to improve in-game experiences.

New technologies continuously expand what is possible, from graphics to online gaming to platforms. Advances in streaming capabilities, virtual reality, and AI have propelled video game design to the next level. 

Game developers can now use artificial intelligence, for example, to generate ideas, stories and dialogue or improve animation and graphics. With these new capabilities, game designers can create more intricate, detailed worlds and more realistic conversations with non-player characters (NPCs). We’re also seeing strides in voice control — an important function for accessibility — and more diverse representation of characters in video games.

While game developers often use these advancements to create more realistic worlds, these technologies can also appeal to retro gamers. Nostalgia for retro games has pushed gaming companies to re-release classic games or produce new, retro-looking ones. As players look back on the games they enjoyed in their youth, game designers have created games that use new technology while mimicking the gameplay of the past. 

Regardless of the game or platform, these innovations and shifts make it an exciting time for gamers, game designers and the industry. For those skilled in computer science, programming, animation, storytelling or visual design, the video game industry holds promise. Whether you want to work in specific game genres or platforms or have a passion for video games in general, video game design careers allow you to build all kinds of interactive worlds.

While your responsibilities will vary based on the role, video game careers ultimately involve putting your expertise to work to keep players engaged and in a flow state — that is, fully immersed and engaged in a game. 

Video Game Careers: Bringing Together the Creative and Technical 

If you are an avid gamer who has a background or interest in computer science, video game design jobs are an excellent way to exercise both your creative and technical skills. Video game careers encompass a wide variety of roles, including development, graphic design, animation, writing, production and quality assurance. Gaming professionals combine art, storytelling and computer science to immerse audiences in compelling narratives and virtual worlds on various gaming platforms. 

Some of the top video game design jobs include:

  • Video game designer
  • Video game developer
  • Level designer
  • Game producer
  • Game tester
  • AI programmer
  • Gameplay engineer
  • Technical game designer

The demand for professionals who can design video games, systems and interfaces is growing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates opportunities for web developers and digital designers (which includes game designers) to grow by 23% through 2031. This growth rate is much higher than average for all occupations. The video game designer salary ranges from $59,000-$99,000, with an average salary of nearly $68,000, according to Payscale. Related job titles, such as video game developer, can exceed $100,000, with an average salary of nearly $87,000, Payscale reports.

So how do you become someone who can earn a video game designer salary? Designing video games takes a strong understanding of game logic and how and why they work. You’ll need knowledge of programming languages, data structures, machine learning and AI. You’ll also want to do all you can to gain experience in the industry or to develop a relevant academic portfolio.

Some entry-level careers in video game design require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. However, a graduate degree in computer science provides a greater level of expertise and can lead to more advanced — and higher-paying — positions. 

How a Master’s Degree in Computer Science Helps Advance Video Game Careers

What’s the benefit of earning a master’s degree in computer science for careers in video games? With a master’s degree, you’ll be more likely to get hired into roles that require custom software development, AI programming or other advanced skill sets. You’ll also be more qualified for leadership, senior or even research positions.

An M.S. in computer science can prepare you for some careers in video game design, but the best way to set yourself up for success in the job market is to earn a master’s degree in computer science with a video game specialization. 

For example, Troy University’s computer science graduate program offers several specializations, including video game design. In TROY’s program, you’ll work on future-forward projects that use AI and other emerging technologies. You’ll develop advanced competencies in coding, programming, software engineering, and algorithm design and analysis. You’ll also learn how to design and implement computer graphics and artificial intelligence systems to create immersive video games. 

With your TROY master’s degree in computer science, you’ll be able to design, prototype, code and test games, along with a host of other abilities. TROY’s program also emphasizes problem-solving, leadership and project management skills to further broaden your opportunities when it comes to careers in video game design. 

Explore TROY’s Master’s in Computer Science with Video Game Design SpecializationIf you’re interested in working in the video game industry, there’s no limit to what you can do. Learn more about TROY’s M.S. in computer science program and how it prepares you for video game design careers.