Game Art and Design Jobs: Options, Salary Info and Requirements

In game art and design jobs, employees create new games, design characters, and test the final product. Salary for these positions varies based on experience. Game artists and designers can acquire skills through hands-on training or educational programs.

Game Art and Design Job Options

Over 120,000 people are employed in the computer and video gaming industry, according to The Entertainment Software Association (www.theesa.com), as of 2011. 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 International Game Developer's Association (IGDA), gaming visual artists with one to two years' experience earn an average salary of $50,000, and game designers earn an average salary of $57,500. Those employed as lead designers, often with six or more years of experience, earn around $80,000 a year. The highest-paid employees can earn up to $200,000 (www.igda.org).

Game Art and Design Job Requirements

Skill 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.

Educational Requirements

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.

Professional Requirements

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.

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