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Video Game Designer

Qualifications

First, let's address a myth that's been making its way through the ether. Contrary to what you may have heard, taking a game design course or two won't provide you with the foundation needed for success in this competitive industry. You might happen upon a lucky break or two; however, the farther you get into the field, the more you will realize you're on borrowed time.

Fortunately for you, several universities have jumped on the video design degree bandwagon, creating bachelor's degree programs often based in the computer science field. After four or five years, you'll end up with a computer science, computer engineering, or game design degree. What kind of courses will you take? We're glad you asked. In a game design degree, for example, you'll encounter integrated video technology and design, level design, and game prototyping. Depending on the school, you might be able to take courses online as well as on campus.

You might also be surprised to learn that a fair number of video game designers have at least some graphic design or art experience, if not a full-fledged bachelor's degree. Think about it: You'll be creating outrageous sets, character costumes, and battle scenes. You'll have a tough time with those tasks unless you've got the graphic design skills to visualize what you want and create a convincing version of it.

Okay, you say, that all sounds good, but where do I find these schools? Washington state-based DigiPen University's entire curriculum revolves around video game instruction. You can earn a bachelor's degree in computer engineering, game design, production animation, or interactive simulation.

How much better could it get? Well, imagine you could get a game design degree in sunny Florida. Full Sail University, which also boasts bachelor's degree programs in computer animation, digital arts, and film, offers an innovative year-or-less degree option. New groups of students enter a program each month, taking intensive course modules that immerse a student in one topic until they dream about it at night.

Speaking objectively, let's say you've found a school that offers a killer video game design program. Before you sign on the dotted line and fork over precious cash, treat the college like an important research project. Gather as much information about the school as possible, including its success rate in placing graduates in legitimate game industry positions.

Finally, remember that real-world business experience will also help you excel in a video game designer job. You're overseeing budgets, timelines, and team members' work weeks. You must be able to clearly communicate your instructions to team members; otherwise you'll have to answer to the company prez about unnecessary overtime to fix the screw-ups caused by your poor communication skills.

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