Interactive game designers and developers utilize programming technologies to create computer and video games. Both associate's and bachelor's programs will teach students the skills they need to work in game design, though, 4-year bachelor's degree programs may offer more technical-skills development. Students may be expected to build portfolios throughout the course of some programs. Potential career outcomes include - but are not limited to - game designer, quality assurance engineer and applications software developer. Experienced professionals might go on to pursue voluntary certifications.
Both programs will require students to possess a high school diploma or equivalent. However, the 2-year associate's will need students to have a math and science course foundation before enrolling, while bachelor's programs specify computer science and math.
Associate of Science in Game Design and Programming
Associate's degree programs related to the field of game design and technology are typically offered through 2-year technical and vocational schools. Such programs are often designed for individuals who are interested in working on the technical side of video-game development. They stress programming techniques over scripting or story development. Students learn the basics of desktop production, software engineering, game-programming languages, and graphics development.
Associate's degree programs in game design and programming offer a variety of technical courses related to programming and game architecture. Courses in graphic design and website design are also often included. Specific examples include:
- Programming essentials
- Basic design principles and game design
- Digital graphics and 3D animation
- Game hardware and technology
- C++ programming
- Coding and testing
Bachelor of Science in Game Development
Bachelor's degree programs in game development provide students with an understanding of computer gaming and interactive media technology while at the same time offering them a well-rounded, general education. Students enrolled in such a program are expected to enhance their mathematical and computer programming skills. They study game programming, development, design, animation, physics, and computer science. Many baccalaureate programs in the field also offer courses relating to the video-game profession, including project management and budgeting.
Courses included within a bachelor's degree program in game development are designed to provide students with the technical skills necessary to create their own game engines and collaborate with 3D artists and graphic artists to develop and actual game. Classes include:
- Game programming
- Mathematics and physics for programming
- Game terminology
- Practical game design lab
- Artificial intelligence
- Simulation design
Popular Career Options
Many associate's degree programs in the field of game design and technology prepare students for further study at the baccalaureate level, but others prepare graduates for entry-level positions within the gaming industry, including:
- Junior game designer
- Game programmer assistant
- Game quality assurance engineer
- Software engineering technician
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not offer data related specifically to careers in the video gaming industry. However, it did state that software developers in general held 1.3 million jobs in the United States as of 2018. Included in this category are applications software developers, an occupation that can incorporate game design. Applications software developers earned an annual median salary of $103,620 in 2018, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov). Also included in this category are systems software developers, who design and develop operating systems-level software. In 2018, these developers earned an annual median salary of $110,000.
Professionals working in the field of game technology can gain voluntary certification through product vendors and software companies. Or they can elect to gain certification in particular programming languages, such as Java. They can also take advantage of resources found within the International Game Developers Association or individual state gaming associations.
Aspiring game designers can enroll in associate's and bachelor's degrees designed to teach a solid foundation of skills to help students create video games. Voluntary certification in game technology and programming languages are available.