Video games are developed by teams of people, each providing essential skills that turn games from lines of code on a screen to fully-realized worlds and stories. Teams are typically made up of lead game designers, who bring direction to the production team, game level designers who create the game play, and the artists who provide the visual assets for the game. Those interested in this field will need to have at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, multimedia art or even game design depending on which aspect they want to pursue.
Game Art and Design Job Options
Over 146,000 people are employed in the computer and video gaming industry, according to The Entertainment Software Association (www.theesa.com), as of 2016. This number includes those employed directly by companies, and those that work indirectly as freelance or independent contractors.
Lead game designers supervise the work that is done to complete a video game project, but they may also perform other game production roles. They have ultimate responsibility for how the final game looks, feels, and plays. Lead designers often act as liaisons between the production team and the media.
Game level designers collaborate with other team members on small stages of the game. Game writers are the creative force behind a game's story. Through the use of storyboards, they create game settings, characters, and plot scenarios. Writers also produce game related literature such as manuals and game guides.
Game artists are responsible for all visual aspects of the game. They design characters using computer animation tools and create the virtual world environment.
Game Art and Design Jobs Salary Information
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), gaming visual artists can be classified along with the more general title of multimedia artists who in 2015 earned a mean salary of $70,300 annually. Multimedia artists employed by software publishers earned on average $76,920 a year while those who worked in the computer system industries earned $70,410 on average annually.
Game Art and Design Job Requirements
Game art and design requires the use of higher mathematics and specialized computer software. Game production can involve many people and resources, plus many projects have strict deadlines, so management skills are desired by employers.
Companies and employees agree that video game designers and artists develop through experience, whether obtained on the job or through formal education. Most employees possess an associate or bachelor's degree in computer science, game design, or a related field.
Master's degree programs in game design and development are also available. Individual courses can be found for students to develop new skills for credit or professional development.
The Michigan Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth emphasizes the importance of professionals remaining informed about technology changes affecting the game design art professions (www.michigan.gov).
Employers prefer game design professionals that excel at today's job, but are also ready for future needs, according to Michigan State University's Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media (dmat.msu.edu). No licenses or certifications are required to perform the duties of these positions.
Video game creation is a considerable team effort, where many people bring their different computer programming and artistic skills in order to create a living and playable experience. Different members of these teams have different educational background with lead designers possibly having a degree in game design, game programmers in computer science, and the visual artists in multimedia art.