Find your college for game design degrees
Creative students with a passion for strategic thinking often succeed in game design degree programs. With the increasing popularity of video games, most game designers work with electronic media. Some game designers focus on developing story arcs, while others create games' visual elements.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), multimedia artists and animators earned a median salary of $75,270 in 2019. The BLS projects employment for these professionals to increase 4% between 2019 and 2029. Game designers typically collaborate with programmers and other artists. They create engaging games that inspire players to complete challenging yet enjoyable tasks.
This guide explores game design degree requirements and highlights the best programs for aspiring game designers. The following sections also cover career options and scholarships for game design students.
FAQ on Game Design Degrees
Q. What is game design?
Game design refers to the creation of recreational programs. Most modern game designers help produce video games, but some game designers create physical board games.
Q. How long does it take to earn a degree in game design?
A bachelor's degree in game design takes about four years to complete, and learners typically earn a master's degree in two additional years. However, degree completion time varies based on program requirements and enrollment status.
Q. What is the difference between game design and animation?
Game design refers to the entire process of producing a game, including writing the story theme, coding the effects, and producing the sounds and music scores. Animation professionals create the visual elements of a game or motion picture.
Career and Salary Outlook for Game Design
Graduates with a degree in game design can pursue a variety of roles related to the field. Game design curricula explore topics including visual arts, programming, and creative writing. The list below highlights four potential careers for graduates with game design degrees. Additionally, the following chart features the projected growth rate and median salary for each occupation.
Multimedia Artists and AnimatorsThese professionals create two- and three-dimensional designs, which may appear in video games, televisions shows, and moveis. These individuals need strong interpersonal communication skills to coordinate with clients and collaborate with art directors and fellow artists. They apply feedback to produce high-quality, entertaining animated designs.
Software DevelopersSoftware development professionals create applications for video games, computer programs, and phone apps. Software developers usually do not write code, but they may communicate with programmers to create products. These professionals perform maintenance checks and software tests to ensure a positive user experience.
Graphic DesignersGraphic designers arrange layouts and designs for digital and print media. They choose fonts, colors, and images that communicate desired messages and evoke certain feelings. These designers can work for video gaming companies, publishing companies, news companies, private corporations, and advertising agencies.
Art DirectorsArt directors oversee a team of creative professionals. Directors provide feedback, delegate tasks, and help employees meet goals. Typically, these professionals provide final approval before releasing a product to a client or the public. Professionals usually gain experience as entry-level graphic designers or animators before becoming art directors.
|Career||Median Annual Salary||Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)|
|Multimedia Artists and Animators||$75,270||4%|
Accreditation for Game Design Degrees
Before committing to a school or program, learners should research its accreditation status. To earn and maintain accreditation, an institution must pass regular quality assessments from a third-party agency. The U.S. Department of Higher Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee these accrediting bodies.
Educational institutions can earn regional or national accreditation, and employers typically view degrees from regionally accredited schools as more prestigious. Each regional accrediting agency evaluates schools in a certain geographic area.
Programs that confer game design degrees can also earn programmatic accreditation. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design is one of the top accrediting agencies for game design degrees.
Courses in a Game Design Bachelor's Program
Game design students learn how to develop pixel art and to creatively communicate storylines. They also explore the tasks necessary to create a game. Game design curricula generally cover software engineering basics and methods for using computer programs to create digital art.
Before enrolling in a program, learners should review course descriptions to ensure the curriculum aligns with their career goals. Exact courses vary by game design bachelor's program. However, most programs in the field include the following classes.
Students in this class learn how to use visual and audio effects to create a compelling game. Degree-seekers practice writing creatively and developing supporting visuals. Learners discuss common themes and their origins, and they prepare to use images, sounds, and written words in game applications.
Most game design degrees require at least one application development course. Learners in this class gain an understanding of development foundations and prepare to communicate with experienced software developers. Course topics include common client-server architectures, user-interface design, and the differences between web-based and mobile-based applications.
This foundational course provides an overview of game development components. Learners explore game genres, principles of successful game designs, and the roles of various creative professionals in the game production process. Students typically complete a 2D game development group project.
Foundations of Game Development Course
Scholarships for Game Design
Learners can apply for scholarships to minimize student debt. The following list features three scholarships for digital art and video game design students. Scholarship applicants must typically submit recommendation letters, essays, and official transcripts. To improve their chance of receiving an award, students should allow enough time to complete multiple scholarship applications.
Who Can Apply: Art students who utilize Adobe products can enter an original project in this annual scholarship competition. Applicants can submit a digital game or a general interactive experience. Candidates must also provide a 100-word artist statement.
Amount: Up to $5,000
Who Can Apply: This scholarship competition requires candidates to design innovative software with Microsoft technology. Applicants must be at least 16 years old and enrolled in high school or college.
Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports students pursuing an art degree. Applicants must demonstrate financial need, submit a portfolio, and possess U.S. citizenship or a green card.
Amount: Up to $5,000
Best Game Design Degrees 2022
Choosing the best game design program for your goals requires time and research. To aid in the process, we created and frequently update this ranking of the best programs for game design. The ranking considers factors including graduate success rates, cost, and accreditation status.
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