Many students who are passionate about video games and technology dream of becoming video game designers. As the gaming industry continues to grow, this is a career with a promising and exciting outlook. However, it requires more than a passion for gaming to become a successful game designer.
Students looking to become game designers should be good at problem solving and creative thinkers. They should try to learn all that they can about computer programming, hardware and software while in high school by taking appropriate classes. Of course, they should also have some knowledge about what makes a good video game, from graphics to play settings. While these skills are not necessarily essential to enter a college program in video game design, they will certainly create a solid foundation for a future career in the field.
The best way for students to perfect their programming and design skills and gain credibility is to earn a degree in video game design. Since it is still a relatively new field, game design programs vary on emphasis and specialization. Some may offer a more technical degree within a computer programming major, while others may focus more on the creative side of coming up with graphics, animation, and storylines. However, the majority of programs will provide training in digital media, computer science, and the latest technology.
Getting Into the Field
Most video game designers start out as interns or apprentices at video game companies. These jobs may not pay much (if anything), but they are great opportunities to gain practical experience working in the industry and make contacts for networking. Another way some students try to get into the industry is through freelancing. They may work as freelance designers for a number of different companies or design their own games and try to market them to companies.
With talent, experience, and a little luck, it’s possible for a student to work their way through internships and related jobs to end up becoming a video game designer. Game designers can have many responsibilities depending on their area of expertise and the role they play on the design team. Lead designers are the main visionaries of a project, using both their technical and artistic skills to coordinate the other designers. There are also designers with specific responsibilities to create levels, environments, characters, or puzzles. Game mechanics designers are in charge of the strategies and rules of the game.
Video game designer salaries vary widely depending on the size of their company, their responsibilities, location, and experience. Average salaries range between $50,000 to $80,000 a year, though competitive jobs at big companies can pay much more.
Marcus Morris is a computer programmer who has been passionate about gaming for his entire life. He owns the site Computer Game Design for students who are interested in learning more about what it takes to be a game designer.
At our GAME On: Community Video Game Festival, you will have the opportunity to listen to four innovative teachers who have integrated games and game design into their classroom practise. Hear about why they think video games are relevant in 21st century learning, what they are doing and have the opportunity to ask questions.
When: Saturday 29th October, 2011
Where: Macquarie University Library Foyer
Click here to register for this session.
More about the teachers . . .
Joanne Cologon, De La Salle College, Caringbah
My Year 9 and 10 Elective classes have been using Gamestar Mechanic and serious games from Games for Change to investigate game design and the game space. The aim is to improve the students’ understanding and use of the Design Process in Technology and Applied Studies and in turn produce higher quality products.
Simon Hutchison, Gordon East Public School
I am a primary school teacher with 17 years experience and a computer coordinator for 10 years. I am a gamer to the core with a passion for finding ways of making teaching and learning more engaging and relevant to students in the 21st century. I am currently teaching students to design games with an environmental message.
Alice Leung, Merrylands High School
Merrylands High School students play Xbox Kinect and iPod games in the classroom and design their own games with Kodu and Aris. Games based learning is currently embedded into the science and PDHPE curriculum as well as Boys Education initiatives. Games design is integrated into the school’s Student Technology Team, a team of 22 students from Years 9-12 who help lead professional learning on 1:1 laptops and games based learning for staff and students.
Peter Robson, Northern Beaches Christian School
At Northern Beaches Christian School, students can sign up to join our online communities in Second Life and/or Minecraft. Both communities are student driven with little input from teachers. These worlds give students the opportunity to be creative, collaborate across the school community and develop interpersonal skills.
We have a number of students, across the year groups, who are leaders in the communities. These students monitor and engage regularly with the virtual worlds. Both communities are considered extensions of the playground and so behaviour expectations are clear. It is amazing to see the creations that students build and the way that these students protect their communities.
Check out this cool infographic
Macquarie ICT Innovations Centre is running a game design competition that invites to you design the game that will change the future of our beautiful planet and win amazing prizes.
A video games conference featuring keynote speakers and internationally-esteemed game studies scholars Espen Aarseth and Ian Bogost who will be joined by leading Australian gaming and media academics. Representatives from political and social policy groups will also present.