Careers in Video Game Animation: Job Options and Requirements

Video game animation careers require some formal education. Learn about the schooling, job duties and experience required to see if this is the right career for you.

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A video game animator usually needs a baccalaureate degree in fine arts or game art and design to enter this field. They should also develop an extensive portfolio to showcase their work, as employers give strong consideration to applicants who demonstrate experience and high-quality content.

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Essential Information

Video games are complex programs created through the collaboration of professionals with varied skill sets. Video game animation, the process of adding lifelike motion to a game, is among these specialized skills. Formal training, including a bachelor's degree and internship, is generally needed to prepare for a career in video game animation. A portfolio of work may also be required.

Required Education Bachelor's usually required
Other Requirements Portfolio may be necessary
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for all multimedia artists and animators
Median Salary (2015)* $63,970 annually for all multimedia artists and animators

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Options

Job options within video game animation include modeler, texture artist, animator and motion-capture artist. Individuals interested in this field can find jobs at game production or computer animation studios, among others. Modelers transform concept art into static 3-D characters, objects, forms and scenes by building digital frameworks and skeletons. Modelers and texture artists then digitally wrap these characters or objects with skin, fur, fabric and other simulated textures. They can then pass their work to animators who add realism through motion. Animators use computers and specialized software, such as Maya, to create lifelike expressions and ambulations.

In addition to character movement, animators could also add action to lighting and background scenes. Motion-capture artists support animators by recording the movement of real people, animals and objects. Animators use these recordings to assist them in duplicating natural motion in their animations.

Job Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), careers in video game animation typically require a bachelor's degree. Common programs for this field include Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees or bachelor's degrees in game art and design. Degree programs provide a foundation in traditional art concepts within form, color, balance and symmetry. Practical, hands-on courses help students to build expertise in digital animation techniques. These programs also expose students to the business and development facets of working in a production studio through both coursework and internships.

Some degree programs require students to develop a portfolio. The BLS reported that employers often place great emphasis on experience and the quality of work in portfolios. Graduates could also produce a demo reel or develop a personal website that showcases their work for prospective employers. Due to the degree of competition for this job, the BLS identified artistic talent and technical skills as highly sought-after traits by employers.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS predicted that jobs for multimedia artists and animators would grow 6% from 2014 through 2024. The BLS also reported an annual median salary of $63,970 for multimedia artists and animators in 2015.

Within the field of video game animation, there are many different job options. These include working as a modeler, texture artist, animator or motion-capture artist. Video game animators may work for video game companies or computer animation studios, and can expect jobs in their field to increase at an average rate from 2014-2024.

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