Video Game Designer Salary for 2016

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This article is part of the Video Game Developer Salary series. Read about the annual salary ranges of all video game jobs, and get advice on maximizing your paycheck throughout your career.
Man wondering How much do game designers make?

You can make games. But can you make money?

Table of Contents

  1. Game Designer salary: Overview
  2. Game Designer salary: Factors
  3. Search for Game Design jobs
  4. Game Designer salary: Details
  5. Other factors that affect Designer salary
  6. Demand for Game Designers
  7. Should I become a Game Designer?

When people find out that I work at a game studio, there’s always one or two in the group that excitedly explain how badly they want to become a video game designer. They love to play games, talk about games, and read news about games. Boy oh boy, they’re passionate about games!

I always encourage them to follow that passion. But I also temper it by describing what a brutally hard job it can be at times. Once their enthusiasm simmers down a bit, the next question is usually a little more practical: How much do video game designers make?

Game Designer Salary: Overview

It’s a good question, but it’s complicated. Salary ranges for game designers can vary dramatically depending on several factors. Where is the studio located? How big is the company? What platforms are you developing for? Are you in an individual contributor role, or a leadership role? To muddy the waters further, the game designer job description varies a lot from studio to studio.

If you just want a quick-and-dirty answer, here it is: Game designer salaries start around $45,000 annually for entry-level design positions. But they can grow to well over $100,000 per year for very senior designers or designers who are leading teams. And some companies pay their game designers even more – a lot more. With a salary range that wide, how is designer pay determined?

FREE DOWNLOAD: Click here to download the complete 2015 Game Jobs Salary Report

Game Designer Salary: Factors

Like most jobs, game designer salaries increase based on years of experience and by job title. This makes sense. As a designer becomes more experienced and learns additional skills, they can work faster and create higher-quality results. They also make fewer mistakes that could cause their work (or the work of their team) to be thrown out or redone from scratch.

READ  It's Never Too Late to Get A Job In Video Games

It’s worth noting that designers are not paid based on their great ideas. This is a really common misconception. Do you have an awesome original game idea? Do you suspect it will make you rich, if only you could get hired as a designer? Think again. That’s not how it works.

Video game development is a team sport, and great ideas are a dime a dozen. Everybody on your team will have great ideas. Many of them will be better than yours. A designer’s salary is based on how well they can build a fun game as part of a team, not as a “creative genius who calls all the shots” while others do the heavy lifting.

Search for Game Design Jobs

There are many design jobs available, but they have different names depending on the state, country and game company. Try searching for job titles like “game designer,” “level designer,” or “content designer.”

Tip: type any job title, keywords, company, or location

Game Designer Salary: Details

Okay, let’s take a look at the numbers in detail. These figures are generally from three sources: GlassDoor.com, Game Developer Magazine’s annual salary survey, and my observations based on designers I’ve worked with plus my own experience as a game designer.

One way to break down the numbers is to look at experience. Here are the average salaries for game designers with various years of experience.

The various game designer salary levels, based on years of experience.

Under 3 Years 3-6 Years 6+ Years
Game Designer
$53,000 $65,000 $78,000
Lead Game Designer
N/A $70,000 $100,000

Note that there isn’t data for Lead Game Designers with under 3 years of experience. As you may have guessed, this is because designers are rarely promoted into leadership positions in their first few years.

Another way to break down the numbers is to look at each game design salary based on job title. I think this is more useful because it gives a salary range. It also decouples job title from years of experience, which more closely reflects how game design careers actually flow. You don’t get promoted just because you’ve been doing the job for a certain amount of time. You get promoted based on the quality of your work and the amount of project responsibility you can handle.

The annual salary of a game designer based on job title

Job Title Low High
Associate Game Designer1 $40,000 $60,000
Game Designer2 $45,000 $80,000
Senior Game Designer or Lead Game Designer3 $50,000 $100,000

1 The “associate” job description is generally applied to designers just starting their careers.
2 The standard “game designer” moniker applies to established designers for most of their careers. There are many sub-titles such as “level designer,” “combat designer” or “systems designer” that fall under this catch-all umbrella.
3 Many companies have 2 career paths that a designer can take. They can continue as an individual contributor, or they can lead a design team or a portion of a design team. The salary ranges are similar.

Other Factors That Affect Game Designer Salary

The numbers above are averages from many hundreds of designer salaries, so they’re very general. In reality, there are other factors that can help designers beat the averages by quite a lot.

  • Company/studio size. Larger companies generally have bigger project budgets, which allows them to pay their game designers higher salaries. For example, GlassDoor.com indicates that some senior designers at Microsoft are being paid as much as $125,000/year. That’s 25% more than a typical senior designer at other studios.
  • Education background. New game designers come into the industry through many different paths. But one path that seems to garner a higher starting salary is getting a degree or certificate in game design from a college or university. Designers who come through game design schools tend to already have a portfolio of games that they’ve made as school projects. It gives employers confidence in their abilities right from the start.
  • Sector of the game industry. In addition to “traditional” game studios, there are other sectors within the game industry. And some of them seem to pay their game designers a lot more money. For instance, GlassDoor.com shows game designers are paid as high as $170,000 at companies that make gambling video games.

Demand for Game Designers

Like it or not, the game industry is a cyclical business. It can be boom and bust – there are good years and there are bad years. The chart below illustrates the general demand for game designers, based on the number of monthly job postings that include the term “game designer” in their description at Indeed.com (a job-posting aggregator).

Note that this approach can give a lot of false positives. For example, a given job posting might actually be for a Server Engineer but it would show up in the data if it mentioned “must work well with game designers.” But that’s okay for our purposes because we’re interested in the trends, not the absolute numbers.

This chart makes it clear that demand for video game designers is highly cyclical. Why is that important? Because of the laws of supply and demand. In years when demand is high, designer salaries will be high. And when demand is lower, salaries will be lower. It’s worth keeping an eye on the trends when negotiating salary at a new job or when asking for a raise or promotion.

Should I Become A Game Designer?

If you’re passionate about making games and think that becoming a game designer is your dream career, then I hope these numbers are encouraging. Designing video games for a living is not only an extremely fun job, but it’s also a great way to make a living. How many jobs can you think of that will pay you $100,000/year salary for spending all day doing something you love? If you ask me, I’d say that becoming a video game designer is about as good as it gets.

An easy way to get started is to watch these videos to learn the basics Β of Unity 3D, an insanely popular tool for making cutting-edge 3D games:

If you’re thinking about a career in game design, it’s never too soon to start gathering information. Enter your zip below to check out the top design schools near you. The info is free, so it’s a great place to start.

If you liked this article, please share it on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

Image: ponsulak / freedigitalphotos.net
Sources: Glassdoor.com | Gamasutra.com | Indeed.com

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300 comments on “Video Game Designer Salary for 2016
  1. Howard says:

    Insightful. I’ll borrow it to share with a friend of mine πŸ™‚

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Thanks, Howard! Feel free to Like or Share it on Facebook, LinkedIn, or just email it to your buddies who might find it helpful. Thanks for stopping by!

      • evan keller says:

        im in middle school 7th grade and i was wondering what would b a good school to go to for this

      • Jason W. Bay says:

        Hi Evan, there are a lot of schools that might be good for you. Part of finding a good college/university is talking with your parents and researching schools together. Your school may also have a resource center with counsellors that can give you advice. You can use the game school search tools to start collecting information, but luckily you have a few years before you need to make a decision!

      • Loupe says:

        This is all great info but I was wondering what the average tax was for videogame designers.

      • Jason W. Bay says:

        The exact tax rate will depend on where you live and work, and your salary. In the US, usually around 30% of your salary will go to various state and federal taxes.

      • Julie says:

        Im really considering going the game designer route. My only doubt is if I want to stay in Texas (Cause its where most of my family is) should I be concerned?? I’ve heard the lowest salary averages are in the south, so should I just consider leaving my comfort zone and consider moving to California after college?? I just want to understand my options and be realistic with my expectations.

      • Jason W. Bay says:

        Hi Julie, there are quite a lot of game development companies in Texas, so you may not have to move to California (unless you want to). Salaries are often lower in the South, but it’s because the cost of living is also lower, so it comes out as a balance. You should start by deciding what kinds of companies you want to work at, and then apply to those companies – if you have to move, then it will be for a good reason.

      • Kimberly says:

        sir, could you tell me when this article was written? I see comments from 2013 but the article references 2015.

        Thank you.

      • Jason W. Bay says:

        Originally published in 2013, but I update it several times each year as salaries fluctuate.

    • Gabriel says:

      Thanks for this! I am in 9th grade. 14 years old, and ever since 7th grade I was trying to see if I should go into the medical field. But then I realized how much I am into games a lot and many people say get a job that u love, and I don’t really like being in the medical field that much. I realized how high my interest in game designing was dye to my mom telling me that I spent too much time with games. Due to reading this, I now know that my dream is to go to Full Sail university to become a wonderful game designer. Hopefully in 10 years I will be working at a high company like Microsoft or sony. Thanks again for the article#

  2. Jeff Zahir says:

    When I worked as a labor economist, a valuable source of salary and job information was O(asterisk)NET. Unfortunately not all jobs in the game industry are listed there but Game Designer happens to be one they track.
    The info isn’t nearly as accurate as the first-hand knowledge on this site, but it’s a handy reference for job seekers and students.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Thank you for the input, Jeff! I hadn’t heard of O(asterisk)NET, I’ll check it out for sure. Thanks for reading the article – please share it if you think it would be helpful to others.

      Also, it’s good to hear from you! πŸ™‚ I hope you’re doing great work. We should get together for lunch sometime!

  3. ronald hoskins says:

    hey I’m 12 and I want to be a video game designer and this was very helpful so thanks

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      You’re welcome, Ronald. It’s great that you’re thinking about your career already – keep your goal in sight and always keep working toward it, and you will get there!

  4. Saru says:

    I’ve been thinking of working in this line for a while. I love gaming almost as much as drawing. Sadly, I’m still studying a medical course- which should be through by next year. Do you have any advice: anything I could study up or practice in the meantime before I can apply for a Game Design/Art course?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Great question, Saru!

      First of all, I laughed out loud when I read “sadly, I’m still studying a medical course.” I think it’s awesome that you’re studying medicine. As you go through life, you might find that it’s helpful to have a variety of industries that you can work in as needed. Keep working hard in your course!

      In the meantime, there’s a lot you can do to prepare for a game design education. Start by playing a wide variety of games, all from different genres. Don’t stick with your favorites – especially play the ones that you don’t personally like, so you can analyze why other people like them so much. As you play, get in the habit of analyzing everything about what makes the game fun, what makes you want to keep playing, and how each game is similar or different from others you’ve tried.

      At the same time, you should read books about game design. It will help you learn the vocabulary and techniques of game designers, and will give you specific things to think about as you play and analyze games.

      You should also experiment with making your own games or modding existing games. It’s one thing to play a game and critique it from the sofa, but you’ll be surprised at how challenging it actually is to build something fun and engaging. The games/levels/mods that you make may not be very good (it takes practice!) but you’ll learn a lot by doing it. And it will be the start of your game designer resume/CV.

      Good luck with your journey! Please stop by every once in a while and let us know how it’s going.

    • Shane King says:

      I know these comments, which I’m replying to are a couple years old, but…

      I wanted to chime in on getting started with designing games. Personally, I found building table-top and board games is a good way to get started and these can be created anywhere. As long as you have something to write on, you can begin designing rules and layouts for a new game. After you finish the game’s design for an analog-type of game, look at making a digital game out of it.

      The digital (video) game will usually require some coding knowledge but you can get by, by using programs like Game Maker Studio (it’s free!) which allows drag and drop commands. Building games with GMS is a good way to get started.

      For my senior project, I built a game using Game Maker: Studio and many spreadsheets and design documents but had to know where my personal and time limits were and where to make cuts. When building a game and you’re doing it solo (and within 2 months) things get a bit hectic, however, it is possible to get started in Game Design.

  5. Scott Smith says:

    Hay I’m 14. I want to be a Video Game Designer when I grow up. This was very helpful information. Thank You.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      You’re welcome, Scott! It’s great that you already know what you want to do, and you’re gathering information on how to do it. Be sure to read the other game design articles on this site, and check back every couple of weeks for new stuff. See ya around. πŸ™‚

  6. davonte' mccohn says:

    cool

  7. robotoid2 says:

    Hey, i’m and I didn’t know that a game designer’s salary could vary so much.
    I also felt this website wasn’t so clunky and unorganized like most websites of this type!
    Neato!
    -robotoid2

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Right on – thanks for the kind words. Our goal is to give actionable info from people with actual experience in video game industry – all in a single place so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Samantha Armstrong says:

    This was a very helpful article. Thanks for posting it, also I am currently in school now to become a web game designer. There is a lot of courses that you have to go through before you get to the core game design classes. But so far it has been worth it. It also helps to make the Deans List at least once while doing the work.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hah, nice work on making the Deans List, I’m sure that helps a lot! If you don’t mind sharing, I’d love to know which school/programs you’re taking? And, do you like them so far?

  9. Jason L says:

    Nice article! I too am traveling along the path of a Game Designer, as many others in here are. Actually, a few friends from school and I are currently working on a game, as well as building a designing company itself (that may take a little longer to fully establish, haha). I was wondering, do you think it would be possible for someone to be skilled in game designing (such as story-building, setting, characters, etc.), and not have had to take a course in college to become that good? I think of myself as very good at telling stories and grabbing peoples’ attention with them, but I’m on the fence about college. One of my friends is going for a business degree, another is going for programming. I’m most-likely not going to be getting hired by anyone (other companies) considering we’re going to equally share power in this company, and they know very well of my talents. Should I have to waste my money to get a game designing degree if I’m already skilled as a designer? Once again, thank you for the information. I was unaware of how complicated that job can be at times, given specific circumstances, of course.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Jason! This is a really interesting question, thanks for asking it.

      It sounds like your major decision here is “should I get a game design degree.” I hate to answer yes/no since it’s a very personal decision, but here are some of my thoughts on your situation.

      First of all, it’s AWESOME that you are starting to build a game on your own. Because the #1 thing that you need to do to become a great game designer? Design games! You can only get better by getting experience.

      However, since you’ve never designed games before, I’d wager that you actually aren’t nearly as good as you think you are. That’s probably hard to hear. But it’s pretty normal to be really into games, and even be really good at analyzing and talking about game design… but once you start trying to make designs of your own, you find that it’s actually very challenging. There’s a whole lot to learn. When you just start out as a designer, you “don’t know what you don’t know.”

      That’s one of the reasons why going to school can fast-track your career. Like any type of schooling, you’ll benefit from the assignments they make you work on (usually things you wouldn’t have tried on your own), and you also benefit by learning from experienced game designers who teach the classes.

      You should take a hard look at yourself and be honest with yourself: Are you extremely focused when teachers or parents aren’t looking over your shoulder? Are you very self-motivated? Can you set your own deadlines and then accomplish them? If not, then the more-structured environment of a college/university might be a better route for you.

      But I know a whole lot of great game designers who did not go to school for game design. It just depends on how fast you are at learning on your own, and how aggressive you are at making your own games – and lots of them – so you can learn quickly. Once you design one or two little indie games, you can probably get a job as a junior game designer at a game studio.

  10. Dalton Ellefson says:

    Hello. I wanted to know if you had any tips for someone who is interested in game design. I’m writing a report on a career I want and I chose game design. I worked on a software called Scratch and had to make a “game” on it for a school assignment a year ago. Thank you.

  11. Jared Mullins says:

    I found your article while researching for an essay, on a career and thought that it was a lot of help, i do have one question though, how does one go about trying to find a job as a designer whether for a well known company or one that’s more obscure? I’m not looking any time soon i’m still only in high school, but even with Google at my disposal i have a hard time finding any info on that kind of thing. But this is one of the fields ive been seriously considering.

  12. shravan says:

    Hello sir! I want to know, is it difficult to get a job in gaming companies?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Shravan, that’s a difficult question. It depends on many factors: your level of experience, what the job market is like at the time you’re looking for a job, the demand for your specific skill set, and others. It’s hard to predict. All you can do is work hard at whatever it is you’re passionate about and have a talent for, and keep searching until you find a company that needs your abilities.

  13. Like Jared I am using this on a paper in high school. I need to use MLA Citations and I was wondering if you could tell me when this was published. This has been very helpful by the way.

  14. Tony says:

    How much do you have to move or relocate? If not, how much travel or “business trips” do you make. This is what puts me on the fence about this career.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Tony, thanks for the question. Like most any job, you would only have to relocate if the game studio you want to work for is not in your home town. But this will almost certainly be the case, unless you live in one of the big video game cities (for example Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, Vancouver, etc.)

      Game designers usually do not have to do any business travel. But it depends on the studio, and the project. It’s possible that you might have to travel once in a while if you’re working with a team in a different city, or maybe if your company headquarters is in a different city. If you did have to travel, the company would pay for everything – flight, meals, hotel, etc. You would not have to pay anything out of your own pocket.

  15. Zoheb Sayyed says:

    Thank you for the details

  16. dexter oden says:

    Okay I’m 14 and I was wondering how was it when you were trying to get a game designing job. And what were the paths that you took to get where you are?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Dexter, thanks for asking. I started as a QA Tester, but I had already learned a little bit of programming and a little bit of art on my own before starting in QA. While I was working as a QA Tester, I continued to learn programming, and I programmed a small video game demo (with the help of one of my programmer friends). I think that experience, plus learning a bit about the business as a tester, helped to convince the game studio to give me a shot as a level designer.

  17. dexter oden says:

    And great information I really loved the details.

  18. randy says:

    Hey I’m from India and does India have same scope for gaming compared to other countries?if else which country is best suited for this job

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Randy, thanks for the question. In general, the video game industry in India is very small. But it is growing. There are several game studios that have been around for a number of years (for example I used to work with the Glu Mobile studio in Hyderabad), and there’s even some video game-related conventions such as NASSCOM GDC each year in Pune. If you want to become a game developer and stay in India, you may need to move to a large city where game studios are operating (e.g. Hyderabad, Mumbai or Bangalore).

  19. randy says:

    Thanks for the reply,and on a median level how much does a gaming developer earn in India(Bangalore)for my instance

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Unfortunately I don’t have any salary info for India game development. When I was working with Indian game studios a few years ago, it seems like the salaries were about 30% of US salaries. But that was increasing quickly, so I’m not sure what they’re at now. I’ll do some research and hopefully write an article about that in the future.

  20. Chris B says:

    Hi Jason,
    How beneficial do you think a computer science degree would be in a video game design career and in the industry in general?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Chris, this is an excellent question. I believe that if you are interested in getting a comp sic degree, then you should absolutely do that. There are a few good reasons why it can be super helpful for you.

      1) You will learn how to code. This will help you as a game designer (or most any other game job).
      2) It will also open the door for you to become a game programmer – which is a really fun job (if you like programming) and has some of the highest salaries in the game industry.
      3) If you have trouble getting into the game industry, or if the game industry is having a “rough patch” around the time you graduate, it will allow you to more easily get jobs outside of the game industry.

      In general, having a degree is better than not having a degree. It’s not a requirement. But it will make it easier to get a job, will likely result in a higher salary throughout your career, and creates more job opportunity for you to choose from.

  21. martio silas says:

    Hi, Im a freshman that attends Forest Hill High School.
    This is great in formation for me to use in my project.
    The project is about our financial future and I chose to be a video game designer. This in formation was very useful. Thanks!!! πŸ˜€

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      I’m glad it was helpful, Martio. I’m also glad to hear that high school students are planning for their financial futures. Super important! Thanks for stopping by.

  22. Tim Son says:

    Hey Jason. Great article! I have somewhat of a personal question about this type of field. How’s the lifestyle of a video game designer/programmer? I am mainly in it for the salary and it’s the only field I’m interested in for college because I am PASSIONATE about playing video games.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Tim, good question. Every game studio is a little bit different, but as a whole the game designer job is a fun job, and it’s great to work around other gamer-geeks. You’ll hear horror stories about “crunch time” (also called “death marches”), which happens when there’s a firm deadline for shipping the game and everybody works overtime to try and hit the date. So that can be a down side, but many companies work hard to avoid crunch time when possible.

      I have a couple of interviews that you should read to get an idea of what it’s like to design games day-to-day:
      Game Designer interview
      Level Designer interview

      Check those out, they’ll help with your research.

  23. Jasmine says:

    Hi there!

  24. Peter Cardinale says:

    I really like this page im young and I want to become one myself

  25. Rahul says:

    i am 16 and want to take up game designing as a career …the article was quite helpful. But the 1 question i want to ask is that
    is it possible to take up the career as a game designer even if one is not good with studies ??

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Rahul. Sometimes school seems difficult or even boring. But if you study hard now, then it will be easier to get a job as a game designer – and you’ll be a better designer as well.

      There are many things you must learn in school that don’t seem very interesting now. But they’ll be important once you get a job in games. My advice is to put more effort into your studies. It will pay off when you graduate with good grades and start out to get your dream job making games. You can do it!

  26. Mark says:

    What about with federal income, social security, and medicare taxes.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Mark – it’s not possible to put things like federal and state taxes into a handy chart because it varies dramatically based on things like: your filing status, whether you have dependents, whether your spouse is employed, etc.

      The IRS has some tools online to help you get an estimate. Maybe start with the IRS Withholding Calculator. Enjoy…?

  27. Courtney says:

    I started college last fall. It’s a community college, but it offers a game design certificate.

    I started college out in a weird way. I didn’t do basics first. I had experience in a 3D modeling program “Blender” I was self taught, but by no means was I pro. Anyways the game design instructor accepted me right away. I haven’t even been in college a complete year yet and I only need 3 more credits to get my certificate. However since I did things slightly backwards I’ll be doing basics this coming year.

    My advisor has mentioned career paths that go along with simulation but it steers off the path of video game design. It was slightly discouraging at first because all I want to do is work on video games and do some YouTube karaoke in my room during downtime. Haha My advisor mentioned training simulation for companies, and even interior design.

    Do gaming companies really do a “by contract” thing? What would it take to work for a gaming studio full time? I eventually would like to have my very own gaming studio…. Like Bethesda or Squaresoft/Square Enix.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Courtney, congratulations on getting through your certificate so quickly. That’s awesome.

      Your advisor may just be concerned because the game design field is very competitive right now. There are a lot of people graduating with game design degrees/certificates, and there probably won’t be enough jobs for everybody. Plus, jobs in simulation often pay much higher salaries than the game industry. For example, I knew a programmer who quit his job making Xbox games and moved to Texas to work in simulation – I think he got something like a 40% pay increase. So your advisor is just trying to help you explore some other options, nothing wrong with that. Options are good.

      To answer your question? Yes, game companies often start new employees as temporary workers. (“Temporary” is different than “contract,” although the two are often confused.) They do this as a sort of “try before you buy” option with people new to the industry – if they like you and you do good work, then they may offer you a permanent position after 6 months or 1 year. So it’s a pretty common way to start your career.

  28. Tanner says:

    I’m 15 what classes should i take in high school to continue on ino college because I really want to have this job

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Tanner, good question. The most important thing is to work hard in high school so you can get good grades. Having a good GPA opens up tons of options for you, because you’ll have more colleges/universities to choose from.

      If you’re trying to pick some electives that would help you with game design, then I’d recommend taking some writing, programming, and art classes. (In that order.)

  29. Justin says:

    I am an older gamer. I already have a job, with medical/dental benifits and so on, and a salary of 75k + a year. But its not what I love to do. I realise it might be crazy to go back to school and start all over when you are almost 30, but I would love to be able to make games, even on a small scale, maybe get in to mobile games or something. even if i dont make much money. so where would you suggest someone in my situation should start

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Justin. Let’s just start by saying that 30 is not old! You still have a few decades left in your career, so if your current job makes you miserable then now is a good time to explore something new.

      One way you could do this, is to find out if there are any evening/weekend certificate programs at your local community college. That would give you a chance to get started with game design (or programming or whatever) and find out whether you like it and might be good at it – while also keeping your income stream from your current job.

      Another approach might be to keep your current job, but do what you love as a hobby. If you just can’t stand to part with that comfy salary just yet, consider learning programming online using a site like lynda.com, and start out by making a simple little game for your smartphone. Then grow from there.

      It will be an adventure. Good luck!

  30. Jack whitt says:

    Hey, i live in the UK, currently at college doing a computer design and programming course i would love to go to university to do a game desgin corse then hopefully look for a job with a big company such as ‘rockstar’ or ‘trayarch’ this article has helped alot it seems like what i want to do but with all my qualifications i still think its going to be really hard. Any advise thanks!

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Jack, thanks for stopping by. You’re right that it might be difficult to get a job at Rockstar or Treyarch, because those are popular companies that many people want to work for – so there’s a lot of competition. Even if you can’t get a job there straight out of university, you may be able to go there later after you’ve gained some job experience.

      Most people in the game industry work at smaller studios you’ve probably never heard of. Making video games is a lot of fun, no matter where you work!

  31. Crystal says:

    Thank you for this information. Gets me more in depth on how I could make a living like this, im very passionate in this field and hope I can get a good college to go to.

  32. Garron J. says:

    P.S How could a kid in 8th grade start getting experience and knowledge before high school? What if I have no experience working in the game industry?

    • Garron J. says:

      P.P.S what type of laptop should I buy that is <$1000 for creating games

      • Jason W. Bay says:

        That depends on which game engine you’ll use to make your game. Normally, any computer that’s less than around 5 years old will be fine for building a game.

        Once you decide which game engine to use, you can look at their web site and they’ll tell you what kind of computer is required. Usually in a page on the site called “system requirements.” As an example, here’s the systems requirements page for the Unity 3D game engine.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      The best way to get experience is to start making little games on your own. If you have a computer at home, there are all sorts of free game engines like Unity 3D or even GameMaker – start building a little version of Pong or Space Invaders or any old-school game (because those are very simple).

      You can also read up on game design principles and go through the exercises in some of the better game design books.

  33. Christopher says:

    How many years of college would you need and how expensive is it usually.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Christopher. College isn’t usually a 100% requirement to become a game designer. But you have a much better chance of getting a job as a designer if you’ve gone to college, because you’ll have the education and experience – plus, you’ll have a portfolio of game projects to show potential employers.

      The price can vary a lot. I’d recommend researching each of the schools that offer game design programs, because cost isn’t the only factor: you’ll also want to factor in how close it is to your home/family, whether you like the campus/city/area, whether it teaches the areas you want to learn about, and whether it’s received good reviews from past students.

      If you’re just starting your search, you should check out the Princeton Review’s article on the top game design programs in the U.S.

  34. Ricardo Quadras says:

    Hi! Thanks for the wonderful article but I have a few questions… I’m still 13 and the school requires me to choose subjects in max 4 days time. Most subjects like English And Maths And IT are necessary but im wondering, are there any other subjects I should take? Im looking for subjects that help me become more like a Game Designer and help me to know good job opportunities. Thanks!

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      It sounds like you’re on the right track, Ricardo. Writing, storytelling, some programming, some art – a designer needs to know a little bit of everything. Have fun!

  35. Asker says:

    Is programming and art also relate to being a game designer?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      It’s helpful to know some programming since a game designer often needs to write some script/code to construct the game flow. It’s also good to know about art, but most game designers do not need to do production art.

  36. Total_Gamer says:

    Wow, this was very helpful, plus I heard good things about unity, I am currently in middle though but next year in high school i will be taking a information technology course so thanks. XD

  37. Austin Delt says:

    How early can a person start designing? I’m 14 and I would love to do this!

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Austin, it’s never too soon to start developing your skills in game design – 14 years old is perfect. A lot of kids your age start by modding existing games. That’s a great place to start because it gives you experience using design tools, making design decisions, and learning how things work “under the hood.”

      If you play games on a Mac or PC, chances are some of your games already allow mods. Do a Google search to find out which games can be modded (the most popular one right now is probably Minecraft). There are also online discussion forums where you can talk with other people who are modding the same games and exchanging ideas and techniques.

  38. Garron J. says:

    ok thank you

  39. Geenahh says:

    Hey,
    thanks for the info!
    I plan on going into game design and I have a couple questions if you have the time!
    First, I know that game design is basically planning, mapping and outlining the entire game, right? Is there programming involved or does it have to be one or the other?
    Second, I’ve read some really negative things about working in the game industry, like you will be expected to work crazy hours and basically lose your life outside of work, and that some companies will refuse to pay your overtime after a project is done. Is that true?
    Third,
    do you always have to work in an office there times where you could also work from home?
    What are the hours like?
    I’m worried my pets, or when/if i have kids i’ll spend way too much time away from them.
    If you can reply that would be appreciated, but if it’s too much I understand. Thanks either way πŸ™‚

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Geenahh, those are good questions.

      That’s basically what game design is at a high level, but every design job is different – some focus on the high-level plan, some get deep into every tiny little detail of the game world. Designers don’t have to be programmers, but many world-design tools designers use will require you to do some “scripting” – basically, a light-weight version of programming. So it’s best to know some programming fundamentals.

      Most game projects are driven by deadlines: a certain amount of work needs to be finished and delivered by a firm date. For example, maybe a demo needs to be finished in time to show the press at E3. Or if the game is for an upcoming movie, it must be done in time for the movie release.

      Sometimes, the deadline-driven work cycle means that if the team is running behind schedule, there are only 2 options to get caught up: 1 is to cut some features, and 2 is to work more hours. Sometimes #1 isn’t acceptable, so the team has to work overtime. But that doesn’t happen all the time, and it doesn’t happen at every game studio. So don’t let it scare you away from the game industry!

      • Geenahh says:

        Jason, Thank you for taking the time to help relieve some of my worries, and getting back to me so quickly! i’m really passionate about gaming and want to help bring about some amazing games, I really don’t think there’s much that could convince me not to go for it but I wanted to feel better about spending all the money to get my degree at full sail university, you know? :b
        thanks again

  40. Jorge Villanueva says:

    I find this very helpful im in a university right and I dont know what do in my life:( but do you need to be an artist to go into this field?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Jorge, you don’t need to be an artist to go into game design. Game designers can come from many different degrees – art, computer science, literature, management, and others. The important thing is that you study game design on your own, and try building some small games by yourself to get some experience and have something for your portfolio when you start applying to jobs.

  41. Andrew C. says:

    Very helpful Jason!

    I live in Texas and I am currently in my Sophomore year of High School. I’m very interested in becoming a game designer but, it doesn’t seem like there are many companies out here in Texas looking for game designers, but i’d like to stay in my own state. Am i wrong about Texas being empty or are there other developing companies out here?
    Additionally, would it be a good choice to start my own development of small indie games before i choose to join large companies? I have all of the components to start working on game design on my own. My own custom built PC, great knowledge of PC mechanics, and a dream to do something i actually enjoy and get paid for it.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Good questions, Andrew. There are several game companies in Texas, especially in Austin, so a Google search should help you find them.

      I wouldn’t recommend starting your own indie studio when you’re just starting out. I would recommend building one or two small games (by yourself or with a couple friends) to get some experience and have something for your portfolio when you apply for jobs. But getting a job working with other, more experienced game developers is probably the best way to build your skills quickly.

      • oscar says:

        How long does it take to make a video game

      • Jason W. Bay says:

        Hi Oscar, that really depends on how “big” the game is. Some pretty good games have been made by a small team during 24-hour “game jams.” On the other hand, some of the bigger AAA games take several years and hundreds of game developers. Even a pretty small handheld game like for the Nintendo 3DS can take a team of 15-20 people almost a year to finish and release.

  42. Jason Johnson says:

    Im in college right now I’m a graphic design major I was wondering if i could still become a video game designer with that major

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Jason. Yes, there are many professional game designers that have art degrees – many of the designers I know have degrees in things like fine art or illustration. Having art skills is very helpful in game design.

  43. Virginia says:

    Quite an informative article, I liked it a lot, and I think maybe you could answer a question for me, if you’d like. You see, I’m from Venezuela, on my second year through college to get a Computer Engineering degree in the best university here. The thing is, my dream is to move to Canada or USA and start working there in the game industry (I’m particularly a fan of Electronic Arts), and I don’t know how much credibility a degree from a pretty obscure country can get me when job seeking at a first world country. Have you met people from foreign countries in your field? Do you think I could get a job (or at least a scholarship at a game design school) over there with my current studies?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Virginia, this is a good question – I get asked quite often from students outside the USA/Canada.

      I’ve worked with many people who got their degree overseas (for example Europe, India, China, Brazil) and then came to work in the US. I don’t think a degree from Venezuela will be a problem.

      What you might find is more of a problem, is that many game studios don’t want to hire foreigners due to the extra expense and paperwork of sponsoring your work visa. Luckily, larger companies like Electronic Arts have very good Human Resources teams that are accustomed to working with staff from overseas, so it may be easier for you to get sponsored into a large company like EA.

  44. Jarvis says:

    “Note that there isn’t data for Lead Game Designers with under 3 years of experience. As you may have guessed, this is because designers are rarely promoted into leadership positions in their first few years.”

    This is no longer true as companies skew to the young/inexperienced (3 yrs experience or less!) for lead and director roles to, you guessed it, save $.

    [content removed]

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Jarvis. Junior people can sometimes be in leadership roles, for many reasons. If the studio is small and not well-known, then they may have trouble hiring experienced talent and have to use more junior staff to fill those roles. Or, it’s possible that junior people may occasionally be strong enough that the management will test them out in leadership roles earlier in their careers than is typical.

      I haven’t seen any data indicating that this has become the norm, but it certainly can happen under the right circumstances.

  45. D.J. Shue says:

    Hey, i’m 18 and i’ve been considering this career for a long time, i can probably be called obsessive in my love of games, i’v taken several graphic design classes and i’m taking an IT class so i can learn some software and hardware as well, i found your article to be very enlightening and helpful, and wondered if you could give me any ideas on what else i should follow to really get started. sorry if that was a bit long winded, but i’m very interested and not too proud to pursue help or wisdom wherever i can find it.

    I’ve also logged in plenty of time working with different modding software and i’m a half decent artist, for story boards, panels, concept drawings, things like that, though i’m not really sure if that counts as experience or skill of any kind.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      It sounds like you’re very passionate about this career path, and you’re taking some good steps to get there. All of those skills you mentioned could help you in a game design job. You can get some more advice by reading some of the other designer interviews on this site (look in the Careers category). Since you’re 18 you’re probably graduating high school soon? Start looking at colleges/universities that have good art and design programs, or schools that offer game- and media-specific courses. I think you’re on a good path. Keep at it!

  46. irigineni pavan kumar says:

    i have completed 10+2 ,now i want to take game designing course. is it good. actually we are not that rich.i should get compulsory job.

    is it possible to get good earning job

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Before taking any game design courses, be sure to research and find out whether the course is any good. You can look for reviews online, or you could try asking others who have taken the classes – you may be able to find other graduates on LinkedIn for example.

  47. Brandon says:

    Okay to start off I am 22 yrs old and I am in the USAF. I have thought about game design since middle school. So I have 5yrs left in the USAF and my tuition is paid for throughout my AF career and I am finally going to pursue game design. My big question is….I am going to achieve a Master of Science in game design by the time I am finished with my career. With this degree how likely am I to get hired by a well known and well paying company?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      If you complete a Master of Science in game design, then you should be able to get a job as a game designer. But you should understand that your first job probably won’t be at a well-known company, and your salary will not be large to start out with. There’s a lot of competition for jobs at the top game studios, so usually you’d have to get some on-the-job experience and build a good track record of success at a smaller company before they’ll consider you. The game industry is largely a meritocracy, so as you grow your skill set and get better at your trade then your salary will grow as well.

  48. Sumit says:

    Hi Jason,I’ve a question for you.I’m in 11th grade and have decided to choose this as my career option.My Stream is Science consisting of Maths,Physics,Chemistry and Biology.I would be studying Computer Science in an another school.My question is,How can I make myself perfect to get a job in a video game sector?I love video games so I will work hard.

    P.S-Your description is just awesome.Cheers!! πŸ™‚

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Sumit. Besides getting good grades and completing your schooling successfully, you should also try to build 1 or 2 small (very small) video games that you could use in your portfolio when you start looking for game programming jobs. It will also give you some experience with how games work internally, and also help you stand out from the crowd of other graduates who are applying for the same jobs.

  49. Knayar says:

    Hi I’m 16 and I am inspired by the detail in games like bf3/4 ac4 and I myself want to make a game like that , I currently know 3-d modeling in blender but I know no programming also I am going to submit my models to the steam workshop and see if they get accepted , if they do get accepted will that be a thing which would matter in my cv? Also there salaries are in dollars so I recon these are for people living in the us right? I want to join ea/dice/ubisoft but here where I live they don’t offer these much salary packages also is it possible for someone from outside the us to take suc a role in a company in us like ea-dice etc

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      You’re correct that the salaries in this article are for the US. The cost of living in the US is very high so they must pay higher salaries, but the overseas studios will nearly always pay lower wages.

      It’s great that you’re learning 3D modeling and trying to get your work accepted on Steam. That will certainly help with getting a job, as it’s important to build your portfolio of work that you can show along with your CV.

      I don’t know whether companies like EA/DICE/Ubisoft will hire independent contractors until you become very experienced in your trade. However, many of the large North American companies have branches overseas, so you may be able to work at a branch studio that’s closer to your home. For example, Ubisoft has a studio in Pune and EA has a studio in Hyderabad.

  50. Noah says:

    I want to thank you very much, Jason, for the extremely helpful information. I do have some questions, however, regarding what I can do right now to, ahem, 1 Up my chances of getting into a good college/university and subsequently, a job in this field. I am going into high school as of this year and was wondering about some of the things I could do to gain some skills needed for a game designing career. What can I do, in other words, to put myself ahead of the competition? I have no experience in creating games and maybe you could give me some ideas as to what I could do to be prepared for doing just that. Are there websites that I could utilize in order to get a feel for designing a video game? Ways to meet people that I can talk to so I can learn first-hand from? I really don’t know how to get the ball rolling from where I am. I have searched for things that I can use to design video games but with no luck. I don’t know where to begin right now and am kind of lost. I am absolutely fine with the salaries of the job and education required for it- as long as I love what I’m doing, I’m okay with it. I just need to know how I can gain the skills early on so that I will be successful in landing such a job. In a nutshell, I would love to start creating smaller games to put on an application or resume, but don’t know how to make video games or where to start learning how to make them.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Noah, good questions. Rather than trying to make a game from scratch, you could try modding an existing game and/or making new levels for existing games. Many games have modding tools built in, or give them to you for free. As far as preparing while you’re in high school, I’d recommend taking some classes that will give you a head start on game design topics, for example: computer programming, creative writing, art. Good luck, and have fun!

  51. Mohit says:

    Hi Jason! I’m interested in game designing and I’m in 12 so is there any special colleges which offers gaming or animation in India??
    Do I have to opt for science or commerce ? Any specification needed for joining big companies? I liked your article it was helpful… But please suggest me some good things… I’m eager to become a game designer…

  52. harshit says:

    hello i am from India and just went through my 10+2 result. I have applied for a course which includes learning art and programming. now a question arises that by the end of the course my portfolio should include GDD or things related to art or programming to get a decent earning job.

  53. Nihal kumar says:

    Hi i am from india & i want to become a game designer.i get 12th pass this year only & i take admission in bangalore in a gaming a colledge.This colledge offer me a 3 years degree in gaming field. But i also want want to do advance course in gaming after 3 years from abroad..so my question to you is i am going right or wrong & after doing advance course does it helpful to increase my salary.

  54. raul says:

    hi jason, your article was very helpful.But i have some questions

    what qualifications do big companies like ubisoft, gameloft , rockstar games etc ask, if ur applying for a job ?

    secondly, is it advisable to open ur own game co. after graduation or post graduation ???

    thirdly, what starting salaries do big companies give ??

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      The big companies like Ubisoft and Rockstar would likely require that you already have some professional game design experience. You may need to work at a smaller company for a year or two before you could move to a bigger company.

      I don’t advise opening your own game studio. Creating and running a game studio is very difficult, and it’s not just about being a good game designer – there’s a lot you have to know about the business of games. Starting a studio is difficult, even for people who are very experienced.

  55. raul says:

    thanks jason, the information was really helpful. but i have a question…

    i am quite good with sketching, so can it be a plus point for me while entering into the game industry ???

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Yes, being able to sketch would be helpful in a game design position. Some things it could help you with are storyboarding, creating thumbnails of level designs, and expressing your ideas to your team in meetings or presentations.

  56. Kyler says:

    I want to be a game designer when I grow up how should I train to become on

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Kyler, if you’re still in school then the best way to prepare for a career is to study hard and get good grades. When you get to high school, take some art classes and some computer programming classes to see which one you might be good at. Then you can think about what kind of degree you want to take in college. Keep at it – you can do it!

  57. johns bovas says:

    Hey jason, i’m a student from kerala,INDIA.Nw im studying in tenth and i started learning java programming basics from my 8th grade and i could create programs without the use of books and i could form the criteria hw the game is made through programming when i,m playing it ..
    will this help in my game programming career?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Yes! Your experience with Java programming will definitely help you in a future game career. If you find that you are good at programming and you enjoy doing it, then you should consider pursuing a career as a game programmer. In the meantime, try making some small video games using Java – it will be good practice.

  58. klown says:

    This really helped me figure out what school I should go to to get the best education.

  59. Kane says:

    Hi im 16 and im about to choose my subjects in year 11 and 12, i have always wanted to become a game designer. I was wondering what subjects i should pick for the next 2 years of school?

  60. Jakob says:

    Thanks for all the info, I really enjoyed all of the info. I’ve played all sorts off games and my parents get onto me for playing to much. One more thing which makes more in salary, game designer or game tester.

  61. Geenahh says:

    Hi Jason!
    It’s me Geenahh again :b
    I’m really glad I bookmarked this page so I could find you again because I’m in need of advice again and you were so kind to give helpful answers to me and everyone else who posts here. Respect! <3

    Anyway,
    My goals for the future are mostly around making amazing games, but I have a pretty ambitious goal of basically making an entire game myself (Well mostly my ideas, I would likely need a team to bring it to life, and i'm not totally opposed to input).
    Like the storyline, characters, dialogue, etc, you get it.
    But game design I know great ideas are a dime a dozen, so I don't know how often I would be heard. I know it would most likely have to be quite a few years into my career, but maybe if I was in a lead position, do you think i'd be able to make that kind of thing a reality?
    Or would it be something better suited to an Indie studio? Which is also something i've considered starting after I feel i have enough experience…
    Or maybe during any spare time I could work on making a "rough edit" and sell it to a company where they could improve upon for quality? I'm not sure how things things work and just need a better understanding.

    Also,
    I'm wondering if I were to go to my community college to learn C++ if I would need any prior knowledge in that area, and If I did, what kind, and where could I obtain it?
    I mostly want to do design, but I want to be able to program as well, and I'm pretty sure programmers have to implement physics and such, right? Is that necessary for me to know? I'm very behind in my math skills, and though I will do my best to catch up, I feel that it will take a long time.

    Lastly,
    Is there any resources you could provide me with on design? Kinda like a road map that tells me the things I need to plan and consider? Books, websites, anything really.
    oh, and have you read the art of game design? Is that something I should get?

    sorry for all the questions. if it's tl;dr its okay haha.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Welcome back, Geenahh. I think I can advise on your questions!

      1. About making your own game. Once you start studying game creation, you’ll realize that it takes thousands of person-hours to make a typical game. It’s probably not possible for you to make your own RPG, for example. If you want an idea of how many hours go into a game, try this: Look at the credits for a game you like. Count up how many people worked on it. Then multiply that number by 40 (work hours per week), and multiply that new number by 100 (number of work weeks in a 2-year development cycle). That’s how many hours it would take you to make the same game by yourself – it’s not possible! You could make a much bigger, better game when you work as part of a team.
      2. About learning programming from a community college. You usually won’t have to know any programming before you go to college – they’ll teach you everything. But if you do learn some C++ before you start college, it will be easier and you might get better grades.
      3. Check out this article for a list of very good game design books. If you start with one or two of those, it will be a good foundation for you.
  62. Mike Christiansen says:

    Hello there..
    I just finished elementary school, and was thinking about working with video games, since i got a burning, nerdy passion for well made games, and want to be a part of it.

    I want to be part of the imaginatory proces, meaning i want to be a part of shaping the game, which as i understand, would be game designer that is the best choice for me. Im not an artistic person, cant draw for crap..

    Was wondering if this is correct assumption of me, or if i am wrong?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Mike, you’re correct – the game designer is the job that usually does the most “imagining” what the game will be. But even programmers and artists can do a lot of imaginative creation during the making of the game. On a good game team, every person contributes to the design in some way.

  63. 7ate9 says:

    Hi Jason. Great article – thanks for posting all of this helpful information. I have two questions: How important is artistic ability in the video game design field? Are there any positions in this field for people who are not artistic?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Good question. Some designers are required to have art skills, and some are not. For example if you’re a designer charged with creating game levels, you may need to have an artistic understanding of architecture, lighting, color, composition etc. But if you’re a designer responsible with balancing the combat system, you’d do better by having a good understanding of spreadsheets and statistics.

      If you want to pursue game design, I think you should at least take some art classes and learn the basics – even if you aren’t good at drawing or painting. It will help in your career.

  64. Sudhanshu says:

    Hi Jason,
    First of all I must congratulate you to being so kind heart for sharing a healthy information, Myself Sudhanshu from India, my son wants to join video game design 5 year degree course from DSK SUPINOFOGAME Pune, India, do you have any idea about this institute.
    Secondly is this essenteial or helpful to first do his undergraduate programme in computer science. Kindly share your valuable information.

    Regards
    Sudhanshu
    New Delhi , India

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hello Sudhanshu. It’s good that your son is going to attend a degree course, I think that is an excellent way to prepare for his career. I am not familiar with DSK SUPINOFOGAME in Pune, so I would recommend talking with the school and perhaps some recent graduates about their experience.

      If he takes some course work in computer science, it will certainly help his game design career as well.

  65. Jash says:

    Hey! This is a really helpful article! I was wondering whether you have to be good at art to become a video game designer because I am not at all good in the subject art!

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Some game design jobs require you to be good at art, and some do not. I recommend that you take some art classes so you can learn the basics. Even if you’re not a naturally good artist, just knowing the basics and the vocabulary of an artist will help you in your career.

  66. Jhon says:

    Hi Jason,

    I just want to say thank you for all the reply you have made so far. I read almost all of them. In fact I already complete my B.S. so I am looking for a job or internship. Do you have any advice for me?? I live in SF, CA.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      There’s a lot of advice on this site, so be sure to read the articles on building a resume and interviewing. Getting an internship is tricky, since many game studios don’t “officially” have an internship program. But if you start going to local game industry networking event and talking to people there, you may be able to meet some hiring managers that are willing to give you a shot as an intern. That would be a good way to start looking.

  67. Pauline says:

    Hi! This is encouraging to me!
    I’m studying Engineering in Digital Animation but I want to be Game Designer, so I’m studying game mechanics and level design by myself.
    This article is encouraging because it says new game designers come into the industry through different paths, as I will do πŸ™‚
    I’m doing my best learning by myself stuff about game design and I hope I can get into the industry as game designer, and I need some advice on how to build a portfolio, it should contain just games I’ve made?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Yes, your portfolio should contain descriptions/videos/images from any games you’ve made, and anything else that would display your design chops. You can get some ideas and inspiration by googling for “game designer portfolio,” there are many examples that you can draw from.

  68. Kay says:

    I’m really interested in using my knowledge of learning and motivation (I have a BS in psychology) to design educational video games. However, I have no background in computer science or anything related to game designing. In addition, I rarely play video games. I know that sounds odd to many people. But I really am passionate about using computer games as a vehicle for learning. What program do you think will help me learn how to design and create video games? Are there any free online courses? Should I learn any programming language? Do you think I have a shot at being hired as a game designer if I enroll in online courses to learn game designing? I know this field is very competitive and I would like to know what my chances of actually being hired. By the way, I have a 3.9 GPA, but it’s in Psychology. I don’t know how well I will do in game designing.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Kay – it sounds like your strength is in psychology, so I’m not sure I’d recommend learning how to be a game developer. Instead, you might try working with a team of game developers, or apply for a job at a company that makes educational video games such as Dreambox Learning.

  69. Paul McCluskey says:

    hello Jason

    was wondering if you could tell me how well a TIGA diploma and a City&Guilds level 6 games designer qualification would do if landing me my first job?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Paul, unfortunately I’m not familiar with those specific programs. You might try searching on LinkedIn for people who have graduated from those programs, and either A) look at their resume to see what kind of jobs they got, and B) send them an email asking for their opinions on the programs. They may have some good insights for you.

      • Paul McCluskey says:

        thanks for writing back Jason

        maybe I should of explained it better, the people who run these courses are train 2 game and what they are trying to achieve is a standardisation of the gaming industry here in England

        some of the company’s who approve of the TIGA qualification is Rebellion (the people who make sins of a solar empire) its also backed by Microsoft and once I finish my course I will be able to make 100 free games for windows 8 and as many games people will have to pay for

        City&Guilds is a really respected vender qualification, we had a games jam in April, 48 hours to make a working game and for each winner in different category’s they got a certificate which they can put on there CV

        all in all sounds like the business, I’ve nearly finished my first year and got 2 years left unless I finish my course material sooner, I have been trying to look for some work in this job role but so far cant find anything for entry level

        I’ve got a team that includes another designer, 2 artists and 2 programmers and we are trying to create games to help strengthen are portfolio

        so what my question is are we taking the right steps to getting into the industry and could you give us some pointers and steer me towards my first job because everywhere I look, even if im lucky to find an entry level they still want experience or does that translate into my portfolio?

        many thanks
        Paul

  70. Nathaniel says:

    I read the artical and it was helpful in the ways of salary. However I don’t know why but I couldn’t understand the chart of “demand of game designers”. So my question is would it be wise to be a designer? I hear allot of people say “I want to be a game designer” so is there allot of problems finding a job in this career?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Yes, game designer is a very competitive career path – it can be challenging to find a job unless you have some natural talent and are willing to work hard. But if you are very passionate about game design, then there’s nothing wrong with trying it out – once you start, you might even find that you also have talent for other areas like art or programming. You won’t know until you try!

  71. Erick Soto says:

    Hey Jason, I read your article and it was helpful. By the way, I’m almost out of school and I was thinking about this career. I want to study about game designer and I know that a game designer has to be creative to make a game interesting. So, can you tell me a little bit more of the salaries?

  72. max cebulski says:

    Hi man im in year 6 I was wondering what exact subjects u need to do good in because im a good noscoper and stuff so I wanna do stuff with games plz reply #max

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Max, you should try to do well in all your classes, because it takes a broad knowledge base to be a good game designer. But game designers should try to do especially well in writing, math, and art.

  73. aie says:

    Hi Jason.

    Firstly,I’m a hardcore gamer and I want to prove to my parents that games can make money.

    The things is I stayed in Malaysia. I have do some research about gaming company in Malaysia but most of them are just small company.

    There are ubisoft company in singapore and really want to work there. Can you give me your comment?

    Btw I’m 17 years old and next year i will continue my study in Foundation of Computer science and continue in degree of computer science majoring in games design.. that all. thank you

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Aie – continuing to study Computer Science is an excellent approach, and will help you get a job in video games. You might want to start off at a smaller studio in Malaysia, for the first 1 or 2 years of your career. Then you can try to apply at bigger studios overseas, once you get some professional experience. I think you can do it – good luck!

  74. Erick says:

    Hello jason, i can’t tell you how helpful this article is, i been wondering these days about this job/career i’m a truly fan about videogames, i love the news about them, videos about them, everything! I’m really into drawing and designing things, i’m creative and i’m a good leader (at least that’s what my friends tell me) i don’t suck at math but i don’t like it. Something that really worries me is if i will be able to find job opportunities if i ever finish this career, i’m from Mexico and my dream is to work in another country.. what can you tell me about the opportunities for my case? what careers can you recommend me if i’m more into drawing and to into math?

  75. Vincent says:

    Hmmmmm, This is kinda hard to explain but after alot of thought I dont really know what I want to be im only 13 and already stressed about having a happy family I honestly want a job I love but over money Its hard to chose Money is everything in the world nowadays. This job seems Like fun and I love games overall but i just want to be a supportive father or man and I want to Help my family. Can you tell me if I get enough experince I got to college And I get A Job In Game Designing Will this be a job Ment for me

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Vincent, it’s true that nothing is guaranteed in life. But you don’t have to make all the decisions now! You can start working toward something you think might be good for you – like, a career in video games – but maybe something else will catch your interest along the way. It’s good to have long-term goals, but at 13 you don’t need to stress out about starting a family just yet. Give yourself some time to figure things out, you’ll adapt as you go.

  76. casper says:

    Hi, I’m studying Graphic design at MGI in South Africa and it’s my first year. Since the course contains multimedia and some 3D stuff that you get to learn as time goes on. I wanna know wherether it’s the right course for one to become a game designer?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Casper, I think that multimedia and 3D skills will be helpful for a game design job. If you look at the article on educational requirements for game designers, you can see that many game designers come from a similar background.

      • dale says:

        hey im 13 and I want to become a game designer but I wanted to know if you can make your own company?

      • Jason W. Bay says:

        Running a game company is a very different skill set from being a game designer. If what you truly want to do is design games, then I’d recommend working for a game studio for a few years before setting out to make your own company. But remember, you don’t need to start a company to start making games. You can make games any time, you could even start now. πŸ™‚

  77. ladarrius robinson says:

    hey was it require to have a experience to becoming a video game designer and drawing skill too?

  78. gagan vyas says:

    Hey jason,how are u?? My name is gagan and i am from india.i want to become a game designer,my question to you is that any big institute giving training for game designing in india like rockstar games,ubi etc. Please help me

  79. Ave says:

    hello sir, being a gamer, i love everything about video games and my dream job is being game designer and i’m planning to take game design major. but what requirement to be game designer? is it include general studies? i really love drawing, writing, and programming but the thing is i don’t really good at math. is math really necessary in process being a game designer? and how percentage working field in game industry?

  80. Jordan says:

    Hello Jason. I want to pursue this career in video game design but I fear that I can’t. I’m 17 years old and I’ve slacked off so much in school and this is my last year in high school. I feel like I’d enjoy this career because I play games almost every day and designing one sounds so amazing. What would you recommend I do? What are some good books or websites to check out?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Jordan. For starters, stop slacking off in school. πŸ™‚ Be sure to graduate and get your diploma, and then even if your GPA is low you can still go to college and learn art, or programming, or game design or whatever. It’s never too late to turn your life around. You know what you want out of life – to make games – so let that passion drive you to work hard! You can do it!

      For books to check out, here’s a great list of awesome game design books. For websites, well, I think this one is pretty good. πŸ™‚ Also, Gamasutra.com is a great resource to learn more about the industry.

  81. Mike Christiansen says:

    Hey, ive already posted here once, but just thought of a pretty important question.

    I am currently 17, started on something we call “Technical school” which is basically education without a high school diploma. I chose this school because i didn’t want to go to high school, since i am very tired of school.
    I quit technical school, since the teacher i spoke to, promised a lot of things that this school never had, and i got no where by being there.

    I want to become a game programmer, and maybe a desinger at some point, but my question is: Do i need a bachelor’s degree (univercity if i remember correctly) in order to be taken seriously, or even getting a job?

    Some guiding would be very helpfull, since i live in Denmark, where there really is not any univercity/high school that focuses on the Computer education, and i would probably have to go abroad, and my family does not have that much worth atm.

  82. Ray says:

    Hello, I was wondering how much money would you need to make your own game company? And how can you start your own game company?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Ray, that’s a big question – it all depends on what kind of company you want to start. You could start a company with almost no money if you’ll be creating the entire game yourself or with friends, which is a good way to start out.

      But if you’ve never developed a game before, it will be difficult for you to succeed. Even seasoned game developers can struggle when running their own business. Check out my interview with Kris Durrschmidt of Crazy Viking studios for a taste of what it’s like to run your own indie game company.

  83. Jason says:

    hello Jason
    im 18 here in a month and im starting to look for career opportunities
    is there anyway I would be able to contact or get in with companies such as Rockstar. I would love to help design games and I was wondering if you could help me out thanks.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Jason, it’s unlikely that companies like Rockstar would hire somebody with no game development experience. If you’re serious about becoming a game designer but haven’t started building/modding games yet, at this point your best path might be to attend a college/university for game design. There are undergrad programs, or even certificate programs that could be helpful.

  84. Johnathon says:

    My friends and I want to create games. And we were wondering what is needed for us to take the first step in making a great game that everyone would love?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Your first steps would probably be to download a game-making tool (maybe something like GameMaker) and start with something simple. You might be surprised at how long it takes to make even a simple game, so start with something very small, like a remake of a 1980’s arcade game. Then get more complicated as you learn how to design/art/code your games. Good luck, and have fun!

  85. Tomas says:

    I’m 16 years as a junior in high school. Game design has been one of my main interests and I told my parents that I want to try and major into game design but my dad doesn’t see it as effective as other jobs would be better for me money-wise. I really want to try it but I’m not completely sure yet. Any advice?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      A lot of parents are skeptical, and they should be: game design is a competitive industry. But you should know that a lot of people become game designers even when they go to school for other subjects, check out this article on where game designers went to school. So if your parents want you to take a more “traditional” degree, you will still have a chance to try game design.

  86. casper says:

    Thanks a lot Mr Bay, now I know where I’m headed

  87. JT O''Gray says:

    Ok so I have a couple of questions
    1) Im about to graduate high school with 2 years of college under my belt and heading for 4 more. Is game designing or graphic designing a good field to go into i would love to do one of those but it comes down to the simple fact of money would I be making enough to make a decent living off of it? I’m hoping I could at least make at least 50k my first year but That might just me being kind of “over hoping” so canny,oh let me know your thoughts

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi JT, graphic designers make a wide range of salary depending on what company you work for, what city you’re in, and what job you’re doing. GlassDoor.com is a great place to do salary research for any kind of job – I’d recommend looking at GlassDoor to see what kinds of job postings are available, figure out which ones sound interesting, and then checking into the salary for those jobs.

  88. hello I am 15 and would either like to design games or help build them, they are both good jobs but I don’t know which one to pick, what do you think.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Caleb, just about any job in the game industry helps to “build” the game. Since you’re 15, now is a good time to start exploring all the different areas of game development to see what you like and what you might be good at. So try some programming, try doing art, try a little of everything. To read more about the different careers in games, check out the article on video game careers.

  89. caleb dulcan says:

    i love to play video games i want to be one to but how should i do it anyone tell me

  90. Tristen Martin says:

    Can you give me the details to cite this page in MLA? The publication date and who published it. thanks!

  91. Brandon Lee says:

    I’m 15 years old and I wonder if I can ask a few questions.
    (1) Would computer science be considered as game developers?
    (2) What major can I go into college for game design?
    (3) How much experience or training would I need to go into companies like the one in Call of Duty?
    (4) Could there be a Job where people can just play video games for money? I had heard about that and I wonder if there’s any in NC.
    I have planned to go to NC State University for Computer science for Game development, But I’m not sure if i’m looking into the right categories. Thanks for the help if you can.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Brandon, I’ll try to quickly answer your questions.

      1. Computer science is a good major for becoming a video game programmer. I know many game programmers who graduated comp sci programs.
      2. There are colleges that offer Game Design degrees, such as DigiPen Institute, and Full Sail.
      3. To make triple-A, blockbuster games like Call of Duty, you’d need to have at least a few years of on-the-job experience. But there are many other companies making other games too, and it’s just as fun to work on small games as it is to work on the big ones.
      4. No. Sorry to break the bad news to you, but if somebody tells you that they’ll pay you for playing games, it’s a scam. Don’t fall for it.
  92. Evan Newton says:

    If I told my parents I want to do this, they’d call this a fantasy job and not very serious or something. What is some solid proof that this job isn’t just any teenagers dream?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      There are a few things you might be able to read with your parents and have a good discussion about whether game design might be a viable career. Here are some good resources for you guys:

      I hope that helps, and I hope you and your parents have fun exploring career options for your future.

  93. Richie Edmonds says:

    Hi Jason. I’m 21 years old and have no experience in the game industry besides playing a heap of different games. I love gaming and always wanted to create a game when I was younger but just never actually committed to it. I’m really good at art but never finished school. I was wondering if it’s to late to get started and if you need certain qualifications?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Richie, it’s never too late to get started. The qualifications needed will be a little different depending on which game company you’re applying to, but you can get an idea of what they want by searching for some job postings and reading what they say they require for the job.

  94. Jayne Derringer says:

    Jason, you’re a saint. I’ve been thinking especially hard (as an adult stuck in a dead end job) about game design first as a personal joke and recently a bit more seriously…

    Look at this article page length. How many comments there are that you are STILL replying to. Bless you and your generosity. I’ll be trawling through this space for more information for the care and sincerity you have for the field alone. Thanks!

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Jayne, your comment made my day πŸ™‚ A lot of the information here is for a younger audience, but if there’s anything I can help you out with then please shoot me an email.

  95. Josh says:

    Hey Jason I was wondering if you knew any books that would be useful for a report on video game design.

    p.s. Your website is awesome

  96. Gavin Gray says:

    Hey Jason. I was just wounding can I work at home for this job because what if the company in California but I don’t live there can I just email My work or will I just have to Fly over there and start my new life in California.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Gavin – most any job would require you to work at their offices. And if the job is in a different city, that might mean that you’d have to leave your home town and move to the new town where the job is. It can be a little scary the first time you do it, but it’s a normal part of professional life. It’s part of the adventure.

  97. jared says:

    hi..i loved your article and i just wanna know that what subjects you have to choose in high school for game designing ..
    by the way im in class 9

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Jared, game design is a very eclectic job, so mostly you just need to get good grades and learn as much as you can about all your subjects. And start learning how to build games now, using some free online tools like Unity 3D, because those are the sorts of tools you’ll need to know.

  98. Hey! I’m impressed with the work you’ve done, and more impressed that you still regularly revisit this and answer questions. I’m currently doing a research project on Game Programming, and one of my required sources is an “interview with someone in your field.” I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind helping me with this. It doesn’t have to be in person, over the phone or even online somehow would work fine. Again, great work Jason! This article and your helpfulness to others have been inspiring me to actually try to get a job in this field.

  99. mark ramirez says:

    Thanks for making this im currently in the military on my way out due to being injured. I have been thinking long and hard about what to go to school for and after this video game design is what I’ve desided. My question though would the art institute be a good college to go to for a degree in game design?

  100. Abhishek says:

    Hey ! I jst looked the info above. Its excellent…
    I ws wondering to be a game designer or something related to game industry…i jst wanna see my name in d credits..! πŸ™‚
    My question is Im studying Engineering in I.T (Information Tech.) Frm India. So what will I have to do aftr engg. To join into a big game organization…!!

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      You should be able to get an entry-level game job once you graduate. It will help if you’ve made 1 or 2 small games to show what you can do, and you may not get hired at a large studio right away. Take any game job you can get, because it will be good experience.

  101. Noah says:

    Hello Jason! I was wondering about some of the strengths a good game designer would have. I really like to work in teams with people and problem-solving comes as a second nature to me, as with communication. But what I really want to know is what else would I need to be good in this field?

  102. Jamie Morris says:

    I’m in the 11th grade and is really looking toward a career of game design. And am thinking about attending carnegie mellon university in pittsburgh and was wondering of some good game companys.I’ve been considering treyarch for a very long time but think i should have some backups just in case.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Jamie, it’s not always possible to work at the exact game company you want – maybe they aren’t hiring at the time you’re looking for a job, or for other reasons. You’ll probably want to apply to several different game studios to try and get a job, and you’ll likely work for many different studios throughout your career.

  103. Luis says:

    Hey there, im applying for college next year and have taken a huge interest in game design. I was wondering, how easy it was for you to get your first job after earning your degree?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Actually my degree was not in game design (when I started, there were no video game degrees being offered yet!). I got the game design job after working as a QA tester at a game studio. But I know many people who did get a design degree and they seem to have found jobs within a few months of graduating, or faster if they had an internship as part of their degree program.

  104. Jared McGeary says:

    Hello there, Thanks for the input and information that you have given in this article. It does help a lot and put into perspective the potential anyone has as long as they shoot for their goals. I am a Senior in High School already planning on going to college for something completely different from game design, but I am thinking about changing my career path again. I have wanted to create video games for as long as I can remember and was really looking forward to attending college for that profession. But towards the beginning of my Senior Year, I felt that I was not getting anywhere with my prior skills at designing and graphics and game design and decided that I would pursue a different career path. And recently, halfway through the year, I have already been accepted to a college that I really want to go to but also got a letter from another college that is known for its game design and other electronic savvy schooling. It made me start thinking again about what I love to do. Play Video Games. They are my favorite pass time and have been playing since I was (From what my mother tells me) 2 years old. They have been apart of my life my entire life and I love them. So I am thinking I should change my major back to the Graphic Video Game Design path because It is something that I love to do and have even had some insight as to what goes on in the studios and the team work that is highly needed in order for a game to work. Again, I thank you for this article as it puts into perspective the large amount of potential and gratification many have if they just shoot for what they love to do. And especially for me since Video Games are what I love.

  105. beau says:

    What should I do starting off on this whole deal? I really need to know if this would be a good idea.

  106. Raul says:

    What exactly is the difference between a game artist and and a game designer ???

    What is their salary difference especially ??

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Raul, game artists and game designers are very different jobs. Artists create art assets like 3D models, animations, and textures. Game designers may take that art and arrange it in the game levels, but they do a lot of other things depending on the company.

      Their salaries are very similar, so don’t let the pay be too big of a factor in your decision. Go with whichever you think you’d enjoy the most and be good at.

  107. Alan Eddy says:

    I am 14 years old and I want to join the game design career when I get out of school which college do you think I should go to and will help me the most with it

  108. Francisco D. says:

    Im in 8th grade and i was wondering if there were any schools that i could learn at to become a game designer?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Francisco, there are many art schools that offer a focus on game art. (I’m working on an article about that very topic, so check back in a couple weeks for a big list of schools.) But since you’re in 8th grade, you don’t need to worry about learning “video game” art just yet – start learning art in general, and everything you learn now will apply to video games later on!

  109. Noah Young says:

    Hi, great article!

    I’m French, currently studying in Paris (2 months left!) and working part time as a game designer, and it’s been awesome… but a lot of hard work πŸ™‚

    It might be interesting to find data for countries outside of the US for those that would like to move abroad. I would say that for a game designer over here, salaries rarely go over 50k€ and can start as low as 22k€ – 25k€ (but living costs differ etc.) I don’t have any hard data to back that up, just talking to people and a little experience.

    Good luck to all those that dream of becoming a Game Designer one day!

  110. Sajitha Subramaniyan says:

    Hi Jason,

    It’s so good to see you reply to these future gaming professionals. I am writing from India and my son is in grade 12 doing Computer science, physics, chemistry and maths(main subjects).

    He is crazy about playing games, watching all latest game videos and keeping updated. He wants to become a game designer. However, I am unable to find a college in India offering an engineering degree with concentration in game desinging.

    What are the best options for Indian students in US/other countries for pursuing this career? There are many institutions that I found on Google but their curriculum requirements for the course confuse me. Please advice on best institutions that offer scholarships for overseas students so that we can afford it. Do all institutions have campus recruitment?

    I request you to please guide us.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hello Sajitha, unfortunately I don’t know which foreign schools would be eager to give a scholarship, so you will have to do more research: contact each school that seems interesting, and they have advisors that will reply with the relevant information.

      Also, there are many game studios in India, so it may be a good path for your son to get a Computer Science degree or similar in India (focusing on game programming if possible) and then try to get a job as a programmer at one of the Indian game studios, where he will work with game designers and may eventually be able to do some game design – especially at a smaller studio, where many team members contribute to the design.

  111. bryan says:

    hi im bryan, i’m working on my high school career paper. can i interview you? How much do you make off of a video game per year (average pay)?, What are most of the working conditions? & do you have to go to a 4 year collage or not?

  112. Brianna says:

    My name is Brianna and I really want to be a video game animator but theirs one problem I also want a big house and a family of my own. would those two life styles really mesh?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Brianna, it’s smart that you’re doing some research to make sure the career you choose can support your life goals.

      Video game art is a career that can pay enough to support a family. I know many video game artists that have a spouse, children, a home and a good life. You can learn more about game artist salary here.

  113. Rue Luna Chang Wong says:

    Please update this website because all it gives me is the money i would make if i had this job what if i am just doing it for a school project I hope you can update this web site and if you cant i hope that all the people that work there HAVE AN AMAZING DAY!!!!!! πŸ™

  114. robbie b says:

    hi im in 9th grade in high school and im wondering about college and everything for a good path to get into game design. im really good with computer science and design and art and everything, so whats the right path i should take?

  115. Nenad Cvetanovic says:

    Congrats on this amazing website man, on all the articles you wrote and your willingness to answer each and every question on this thread. I’m 38, have been a web/print designer for the last 15 years, and I’m doing fairly, earning ~3k$/month, outsourcing from home(serbia, eastern europe), but I (mildly said) never loved my job and as you might imagine I dream of changing a career and becoming a game designer some day. I used to do mods and levels for doom but that was decades ago. I am a designer and familiar with flash animation, audio/video editing and I have worked in 3d studio made some neato 3d animations and tv commercials but that was also long time ago… but given that I know some basic stuff… I am just thinking, maybe becoming a game designer is not such a science fiction… If for example I continue working what I do… but start learning unreal engine 4 (or unity) in my spare time… and maybe in like 2-3 years if I master it to the bone, and pile up some nice demos I could try and send some job inquieries in game studios here and there and see what happens… πŸ™‚ I might sound rediculous among all these 14-year kids asking the same question… but hey, its never too late to change your life and do what you love ! Peace man and thanks for the great article(s) πŸ˜‰

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Ni Nenad, it’s cool that you’re thinking about exploring a new career. I don’t know how it is in Serbia, but in the US it’s normal for people to change careers many times over the years.

      I don’t think you need to spend 2-3 years mastering a game engine. The important thing is that you start a game design portfolio. If you spend a few months working hard to make a game demo, or even just to make a good mod of an existing game, I think that could be enough for you to start applying for entry-level design jobs. If you could find a local or online school that offers a game design certificate program, that could also get you on the fast track. I wish you the best of luck!

  116. Siddhant Jain says:

    Sir are there any big league gaming industries based in India that I can work for?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Siddhant, there are several game studios in India. Gameloft, Disney and Zynga all have studios there, but there are also many smaller studios. Visit gamedevmap.com and search for “india” and you’ll see many suggestions.

  117. Shiv Ifreann says:

    Hi, I’m 17 and going into my senior year of high school. I really think that becoming a game designer is what I’m meant for, but am very nervous and confused about several things.

    First being college. I’m in Florida, have pre-paid college thanks to grandparents, and am going to go to a community collage near home for the first two years to get the general education classes out of the way. After that I was thinking of going to UCF to get a B.A. in Digital Media and specialize in game design. However, I don’t know how good it is there and was hoping for some advice?

    Next, would be jobs. I want to work (at least hoping to work) on fantasy/si-fi/apocalyptic types of games on consoles ranging from PC’s, Xbox, PS4’s etc. I’m also heavier handed in art and stories when it comes to my talents, and not so much coding and programming (at least as of writing this.)So, how many game designer jobs are there from the Orlando area and southward that offer for the things I’m interested in? What are things I can work/focus on that may help me get hired and possibly stand out more than others?

    I apologize if these are ridiculous questions, I just want to know some basics of what I’ll be getting myself into and plan ahead just enough to relieve some stress. I want to chase after my dream, but set realistic goals within my abilities, all while making my family proud. πŸ™‚

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Shiv, these are all really good questions. It sounds like you’re already on track – since you’re going to college and thinking about your future. I think the Digital Media degree will be helpful, check out the article on video game designer education requirements and you’ll see that media degrees are not uncommon among game designers.

      When it comes time to search for jobs, though, I’d recommend that you don’t limit yourself to any particular genre, platform, or even region of the US. It’s common for game devs to move around to take a job in a different city if it’s a good offer. So keep an open mind. To stand out from others, try to build a nice portfolio of game-related project work.

  118. Carl says:

    Hello Mr.JASON,

    FIRST OF ALL I would like to thank you for this wonderful article it really gives a good idea of the industry.
    I am currently a working in the medical field as a dental lab technician which i hate by the way.and I am also a 23 year old college students and about to finish with a associate degree in computer information technology. However I really want pursue a career in game design. I have 2 questions. 1. Do you think that full sail university is a good school to go to for game design? and 2.Are there a lot of big game studio companys in Florida especially in Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, and orlando area because I love living in Florida.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Carl, I do think Full Sail is a good school because I’ve known several good game developers who went there and they loved it. You can find a list of Florida game studios here.

  119. Will B says:

    Hi,
    I have a game idea that I would like to get off the ground. I would share the idea and also pay the designer for helping me to develop the game. I know nothing about designing I’d just like to be the ceo of my idea and game that I’m thinking off, how do i go about finding a good designer and not having ppl steal the idea etc,… i am 27 w a college degree in education and will be going to med school.
    Since im busy, id like to hire ppl to take my thoughts on this game and bring it to life. Any advice please

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Will, just about anybody you talk to has a game idea that they think is amazing. Most people in the video game industry have many different game ideas that could be viable/profitable so, I hate to break this to you, but game ideas really aren’t worth much – all of the value is in the execution, launch, and marketing of the game. There’s not really a role on the team for “the guy that has an idea” while everybody else does the work. I should also point out that it takes more than just a designer to make a game, even a relatively small game might require at least 1 designer, 1 artist and 1 programmer. The best way to get a game made is to start making it yourself, and then bring others on as your vision takes shape.

  120. Kate says:

    Hello Jason,

    Firstly, thank you for writing this article. It is very helpful to me.

    I love video games and decided that I would major in 3D animation at the art school I was going to. Sadly, it is too expensive for me to return this coming sophomore year, so now I’m planning to go to a different school to major in programming. But I also really love game design and I love drawing, modeling (Zbrush) and animating. Could being an artist and a programmer help me break into the video game industry? And do I need a degree in game design or game development to get into the industry? Also, I don’t want to give up on animation, so is there a possible way in this industry that I could do both? I know there’s always freelance, but I would feel more comfortable in a studio environment. Thank you.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Kate, I think you’ll find the most success by focusing on the thing you’re the best at rather than trying to learn everything. It sounds like you aren’t yet clear about what you most like to do, and what you’re the best at doing – art, or programming? (Or design?) Since you’re going to learn some programming, you’ll be able to compare and contrast – which comes easy to you, and energizes you when you’re doing it? Follow that path. I wish you luck!

  121. Soham shah says:

    Hello sir, you see I am from India and India is not known for its game designing careers so I am thinking of going abroad to complete game designing career and also thought of going to Canada for it. So I am asking you to tell me what qualifications, skills,etc is needed to get into game designing field

    Would be great help
    Thanks

  122. Evan G. says:

    Great article, especially compared to other sites that aren’t very organized or some to pull facts out of thin air.
    I’m currently attending a highschool with an established IT program: I’m part of the Graphic Design branch, I have an average GPA but my SAT scores are top notch. How much do you think that will help me get into a good college with a good video game design program? And, what schools would you suggest? There aren’t many good schools for that in my state (Virginia), so I’ve been considering SCAD(Savannah college of art and design) in Georgia. Any thoughts on my situation would be greatly appreciated.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Evan, congratulations on your SAT scores! In my experience, video game schools are not as hard to get into as, say Computer Science programs at some state universities. But since you’ve already got the scores then you don’t need to worry – just go ahead and apply to the schools you’re interested in. I can’t recommend a specific school, but there’s a list of top game dev schools here. Also, a good trick when you’re researching a school is to use LinkedIn to find out what that school’s graduates went on to do in the game industry, for example go to LinkedIn and search for “scad game designer” and you’ll see a list of people who attended SCAD and you can see what jobs they have now.

  123. John Paul says:

    I was wondering a few things… 1. Do you get paid more for being at a company, say 10 years versus 2 or 3? And 2. If you work for a bigger company are you more likely to make more? 3. How many years of schooling do you have to go to for most companies to hire you?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi John, thanks for the questions. You normally get paid more based on your years of experience, not on your years at a certain company – so if you’ve been a game designer for 10 years, you’ll make about the same as other game designers with 10 years experience even if you’ve changed companies a few times. Bigger companies do tend to pay more, but that’s not a guarantee, it just depends on the company and how much success (and therefore $$) their games have made in the market. Most companies want you to have a Bachelor’s Degree (4-year degree) but that’s not a hard rule, it just depends on the company – you can look at job postings for Game Designer jobs at different companies to get a sense of what they’re looking for.

  124. kaleb says:

    hey i was wondering how much do game designers make a week?

  125. Spiderangle123 says:

    I got to say one thing…. So helpful. Thanks for the amazing organization!!! πŸ˜€
    (Was so helpful for my research!!!)
    -Spiderangle123

  126. I would like to become a Game Designer I’m in high school and I was wanting to know how long you have to be in college for this career because I want to be a Lead Game Designer so I was wondering if you could give me information on this career and the path to take. Thank you, Sincerely, Robert

  127. bryce brooks says:

    so im wondering if i get this job if the pay is 30000 every 3 years it moves up that much what will the deal be if i have other manage ments in the same organization if i had other jobs what would other payments be and how much do they take out do to taxes because i would really like this career

  128. will says:

    I think that I should focus on school, get a diploma and head strait for game designing, since nearly half my family grew up in this dream job it is something I love and favor! thxs for the help, sincerely William

  129. Andrew Coleman says:

    Hello, I’m in 8th grade and I was wondering if USC was a good school to go to for video game design. I have heard good things about it.

  130. rocky says:

    thanks for the info sir. i need your suggestion… currently i am working as a dba bt not very interested into that field . i always wanted to make my carrer in gaming field. now i am 28 yr of age. can i start my gaming carrer now? i am planning to take game design course at dublin inst of technology. will it worth?? TIA.

  131. Raymond says:

    Hey Jason, was wondering if there was a way i can get in contact with you to ask some questions, I’m currently in college studying business but I’m thinking of switching into game design. Thanks!

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Raymond, I don’t usually have time to talk in person. But if you have 2-3 specific questions, you can email me using the “Contact” link at the bottom of any page and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

  132. Pablo says:

    What are the education and training required for this position. Are there any licenses or certifications required?

  133. Anthony Mitchell says:

    Hello, I’m 26 and have been dreaming of a career in gaming ever since I played Kingdom Hearts back in 2006. I have always loved gaming and learning about the “behind the scenes” of gaming. I’m afraid that I wont be able to succeed or get hired by a gaming company, I’m just not sure where I should start or what I should do. Coding worries me the most.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Anthony, it is possible to change careers into gaming (many careers don’t require any coding), but you need to start working in that direction as soon as possible. Some articles that might help: It’s never too late to get a job in games, and 10 proven ways to break into the game industry.

      • Anthony Mitchell says:

        Thank you for the info, another concern I have is, what if being a game designer makes me hate gaming. A friend of mine said that he has talked to developers and they have told him that its like eating your favorite food 20 times a day, is that true?

      • Jason W. Bay says:

        In my 15 years of working in the game industry, I’ve only known 1 person who truly said they stopped liking a certain genre of game after making several of them in a row. (Note that it wasn’t all games, just one specific genre.) You shouldn’t be concerned; making games is quite different from playing games, so you’re not likely to stop enjoying games. If anything, you may develop an even deeper interest and respect.

  134. CJ says:

    This was a really helpful article! I’m in 10th grade, 16 years old, and am looking to go into the game industry. My dream job is to work at Bethesda Game Studios as a designer, and I’d like to get a head start. This article made me realize that this job isn’t impossible (and I can live off of it) so thank you!

  135. Zach says:

    Hey Jason, I am 14 and seriously considering getting a job in the gaming industry. I am already working on a RPG and going to a game design camp this summer. I need to know the educational requirements of a game designer if I am to get any further. Do you have any recommendations for specific colleges or needed degrees. thanks so much

  136. Pradipta says:

    Who are Game Directors? Are they also Game Designer?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      The job “game director” is a little different depending on the company, and some studios don’t even have a game director. Whenever you see the word “director” in a job title, it usually means that person is in charge of several managers that in turn run several different groups. So a Game Designer is usually working on a single team, where a Game Director might be overseeing/assisting the game design for several game teams.

  137. Manan says:

    Hey Jason,
    I’m from India and i know very well that there is so minimal scope of game design. But i want what i want and I’m planning to move California. I’m still 16 and i have designed a basic c++ game with the help of a friend(i am not really good at programming). So, my questions are:

    How can a Lead Designer describe his everyday schedule?

    Is the pay satisfying?

    What company do you suggest working in my initial years and after i have 3-5 years experience?

    Describe Male:Female ratio at work?

    Waiting for your response..

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Manan, you’ll have to be a designer for several years before you can be a lead designer, so start with that. The pay is generally good (it depends on your needs) as you can see from the charts in the article. The game industry in general has a lot more makes than female, but that’s balancing out over time. As far as companies to work at, I’d say, work at any company where you can learn, and you like the city and the studio culture – here’s an article that might help you as you think about how to relocate.

  138. Asad says:

    I am fresh graduate. I want to start my career as Game Designer. I did my internship in 3d unity level designing one of the Pakistani software house. How can I get a job in this field ?

  139. Deepak says:

    hello sir,
    i am Deepak from india i have a query regarding my future.Sir i am pursing b.tech in computer science engineering from india and i don’t have good hand in programming so i want a different way to make my future bright.one of my cousin brother suggest me to go for graphic design but i am in trouble that this profile is technical or not ??
    and i have a great interest in designing part also. and i can work for app design ,web design, and game design also please suggest me what should i do??
    thanking-you
    Deepak walia
    India

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Deepak, I think you’ll have the most success if you can find an area that is a blend of your interests, your talents, and your skills. But if you aren’t sure about your interests or talents yet, then a programming degree is a good starting point because you’ll be able to try for a programming career, or many other technical careers within game/software development. (Graphic Design is not considered a technical job.)

  140. Vicious Llama says:

    Hello there.

    Nice article!

    I have been working for 6 years as Game Designer under strict NDA in South America (hence I have not much of a portfolio to show). I want to move to Canada or US to continue my game-design career. Is that possible, even though I can’t really speak of the games I’ve made?
    I mean, we can “mention” (as in, give some clues about who they are) the companies we’ve worked for (major companies in the States and Europe) but can’t say anything about the games (with a couple of self-published exceptions).
    We do mainly casual, mobile, flash, html-5 games.
    What do you think? Is there a demand in North America for designers like me?

    Thanks!

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Yes, I think there’s a demand for designers like you, there are many casual/mobile game studios in the US and Canada. You don’t need to put the specific names of the games if that’s not allowed, but you could generalize, for example say something like “A match 3 game with deep social connectivity features” instead of “Candy Crush.” Be sure to also list what specifically you did on the game (e.g. “I designed and balanced the XYZ system”).

  141. Shereef says:

    how high in demand is the career video game designing

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