How to Become a Video Game Designer in the US

game designer

Video game designers create games using their vivid imagination and exceptional computer software and hardware skills. Video games run pre-loaded software programs that can be manipulated to result in different outcomes depending on the commands that players issue using their pads and joysticks. Video game design incorporates a number of disciplines including computer science, software and hardware engineering, animation and graphic design.

What Does a Video Game Designer Do?

Video game designers develop games and test them to explore every outcome so that they can deliver products that are both challenging and fun to play. Their specific duties include:

  • Developing the characters, concepts, settings and story lines constituting the video game using their specialized skills set.
  • Testing the games to explore the outcomes and determine the ways in which players can get to successive levels.
  • Conduct research into various types of hardware to establish their compatibility with the software that runs the video game.


To work as a video game designer, you will need technical knowledge that is acquired from a degree in computer science, computer engineering, graphic design, animation techniques or such other related course. The academic course covers subjects such as:

  • Program language, writing and development.
  • 2D and 3D animation techniques
  • Scripting and coding
  • Computer graphics, graphic design and graphical user interface
  • Software and hardware engineering
  • Gaming theory

You will also need to demonstrate a level of experience to secure a good designing job. To that end, you should undertake internships and attachments to develop your personal portfolio. Ensure that you add all the games you have created to your portfolio to build it up.


To succeed as a video game designer you will need the following skills:

  • Vivid imagination and exceptional creativity.
  • Ability to integrate knowledge and skills from different disciplines.
  • Ability to multi-task as you develop, test and refine the games.
  • Excellent organizational, problem-solving, project management, communication, analytical and presentation skills
  • Team-work skills to collaborate with other skilled professionals during the development phase
  • Ability to withstand pressure and frustrations because video game design involves a number of components that have to work together perfectly.


The salary of a video game designer varies according to his level of expertise and his track record of success. The Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes video game designers as multimedia artists. The following are the annual salary statistics as at 2013:

Entry Level $34,800
Mid Career $60,830
Senior Level $109,370

Source: Schools

Work Environment

Video game designers work both independently and collaboratively when developing games. Most of their time is spent sitting in front of their computer screens developing the various components of the game. The rest of their time is spent consulting with professional colleagues and team members, networking with people who can help promote their product and marketing their skills to prospective clients.

Career Prospects

As the sale of video games increases, the demand for more challenging and innovative products drives career opportunities for video game designers. Improved digital technology, the advent of mobile and tablet devices have also contributed to a ballooning market for video games as a recreational product. Consequently, the job outlook and career prospects for talented, skilled and experienced video game designers are quite promising.

This job is ideal for people with exceptional computer skills who do not want to work in the conventional computer-related professions but instead want to apply their creativity to developing products that are fun and unique.




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