Is a Game Design Degree Worth It? [2021 Guide]

Is a game design degree worth it? Earning your degree in game design may prepare you to work on projects related to video game design, game development, 3D animation, and computer programming.

Is a Game Design Degree Worth It

A degree in game design is centered around an intersection between different disciplines, including graphic design, animation, and computer science.

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This broad scope of various content areas may allow you to pursue a range of career paths, including ones that are more technical and computer-based, more artistic and design-focused, or a blend of both.

Is a Game Design Degree Worth It?

Video Game Designer working in his office

Yes, a bachelors in game design is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting an employment growth in computer systems design and related services, specifically 22% in the applications software development industry over the next 10 years.

Common game design careers in this field include video game designer, multimedia artist and animator, software developer, and graphic designer.

With experience, you may also be qualified for leadership positions, such as art director, design director, or lead designer. Leadership positions in video game design may allow you to oversee project development and play a key role in the artistic direction of game development.

Bachelor level game design curriculum generally utilizes a cross-disciplinary approach, balancing art and design with technical and computer-based skills.

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As part of the cross-disciplinary approach for game design education, a bachelor’s program may include courses on computer science, engineering, design theory, interactive media, game user testing, interface development for game design, game prototyping, and project management.

It is common for game design coursework to use hands-on learning methods through project work and workshops, allowing you to gain practical experience during your academic journey.

Depending on the school and specific program you choose to attend, you may be able to specialize in certain content areas or concentrations of video game design.

For example, you may be able to pursue a bachelors degree in computer science with a concentration in game design or a bachelors degree in fine arts with a concentration in interactive media.

How to Decide Whether a Game Design Degree Is Right for You

Software Developers working together

If you enjoy working with technical computer software, are naturally artistic or creative, and have a passion for video games, then a degree in game design may be a good fit for you.

1. You enjoy working with technical computer software.

A large part of video game design is working with technical aspects of game development, including programming, coding, and technical architecture.

The technical makeup of a video game is the foundation of what makes it operate smoothly for end-users and helps the visuals, storytelling, and creative structure come to life. Technical computer positions, like programmers, are more likely to be found in the development stage of the game-making process.

A designer, though, would still need to be familiar with specific software programs to create a game’s various design elements, such as game mechanics and initial design concepts.

2. You’re artistic and creative.

Multimedia Artist working in an office

Creativity and a good handle on design theory and aesthetics is an important component of video game design. It animates the technical components and provides players with an energizing and exciting user experience.

Having an instinct for artistry may help you create more engaging characters, landscapes, and objects, along with storylines, game levels, and ranges of difficulty for players.

3. You have a passion for video games.

Similar to an online game development degree, if you have a passion for video games and an interest in how they operate, then a degree in game design may be an exciting career path for you to explore.

A passion for video games may make your job and day-to-day work more interesting, and it may also make your work more impactful, allowing you to see game design from a user’s or player’s perspective.

5 Things You Can Do with a Game Design Degree

The broad, cross-disciplinary nature of a bachelors degree in game design may allow you to choose from a wide range of career paths.

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Some common career options may include art director, software developer, video game designer, multimedia artist and animator, or computer programmer.

1. Art Director

Art Director supervising the photoshoot

As an art director, you may oversee the artistic direction of a project and keep it on track through the management of project budgets, timelines, and resources.

Part of your responsibility as an art director may include managing human resources, such as video game designers, animators, and gaming programmers who work on different aspects of game development.

You may also perform the final review and approval of the completed game design prior to launching to the public.

2. Software Developer

Software Developer working on his computer

As a software developer, your job may require you to plan for and implement game maintenance and upgrades, ensuring that updates and changes don’t have negative impacts or unintended consequences to the functionality of the game or to user experience.

Other responsibilities may include participating in technical design planning during the game development process and performing user testing and troubleshooting of games.

3. Video Game Designer

Video Game Designers working together in developing a game

As a video game designer, you may take part in the design of comprehensive video game structures. This may include the creation of video game assets, developing storylines, defining game levels, and building character biographies and attributes.

You may also engage in project management while working with other team members to complete tasks. These tasks may include planning storylines, writing scripts, and establishing scenarios that users will experience while playing the game.

4. Multimedia Artist and Animator

Multimedia Artist and Animators working together

As a multimedia artist and animator within the field of game design, you may use computer software and hardware to create illustrations and animations. You may design or develop visual effects based on the artistic direction for a video game design.

While many artists and animators may work independently, you may also work with various team members, including art directors and video game designers, to ensure graphic elements are in line with the artistic vision for any given project.

5. Computer Programmer

Computer Programmer eating while working

As a computer programmer, you may be responsible for writing and testing code for video game designs. You may also take designs completed by software developers and bring them to life through written code that computers can read and interpret.

Additional tasks may include program testing, which ensures video games operate as expected and provide a high-quality user experience.

Bachelor’s in Game Design Alternatives

Game Designers working together in the office

There are several alternatives to a traditional or game design online degree that may align with your goals, particularly if you’re interested in a more concentrated education in animation, computer science, or user experience.

  1. Bachelor’s in Animation. With a greater focus on design, media, and motion, a bachelors in animation may allow you to pursue career paths that are less focused on technical or computer-based skills and knowledge.
  2. Bachelor’s in Computer Science. A degree in computer science would allow you to study more technical content with less focus on design, favoring computer software, hardware, and engineering instead.
  3. Bachelor’s in User Experience Design. Pursuing a degree in user experience design may allow you to focus on the impact that design, such as graphics and animation, and technical programming have on the end-users experience when using a website, application, system, or program.

Some degree options across various disciplines may offer overlapping coursework related to animation, design, computer science, and user experience.

Game Design Careers & Salaries

Game Design Careers & Salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals in video game development earn between $49,000 and $107,000 per year. There are several career paths available to you with a bachelors degree in game design.

Careers Annual Median Salary
Software Developer in Software Publishing $124,050
Film Art Director $122,960
Software Developer in Computer Systems Design $106,160
Computer Programmer in Software Publishing $103,710
3D Animator in Film Industries $92,250
Computer Systems Programmer $88,510
Multimedia Artist in Software Publishing $82,330
Computer Systems Design Animator $69,200
Visual Designer in Advertising $55,800
Graphic Designer $53,380

The range of careers that may be available to you with a bachelors in game design is quite broad. The degree covers technical paths, including software developer and computer programmer, as well as artistic or creative paths, including multimedia artist or animator.

Is Game Design a Good Major?

Game Designers collaborating on a project

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for video game designers is predicted to grow between 4% and 22% over the next decade.

This industry growth may impact the demand for related careers. For example, jobs for multimedia artists and animators is predicted to grow by 4% ten years from now. Software developer positions are expected to see an immense increase of 22% over the same time period.

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Obtaining your bachelors degree in game design may prepare you for a versatile, multifaceted career, with positions ranging from design based to technical and computer based.

With experience, opportunities in art direction may also be available to you. Such positions may allow you to oversee entire video game design projects. You would also manage those who are creating assets and designing games based on an overall artistic vision or direction.

Is Game Designer a Good Career?

Game designers trying the game they deisgned

If you have a passion for video games and are interested in pursuing a career that allows you to balance creativity with technical, computer-based thinking, then a career in game design may be a good fit for you.

Careers in game design combine creativity and critical thinking. This field also shows positive career growth over the next decade and boasts a higher than average annual salary. These factors may lead to a return on your investment and satisfaction in a rewarding career path.

What Degree Should I Get for Video Game Design?

Video Game Design student studying online

There are several program options available to you if you’re interested in pursuing a video game design degree, including bachelor programs in arts, fine arts, and sciences.

If you are more interested in the artistry and creativity of video game design, then you may prefer to pursue a game design degree based in the arts, such as a Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Media.

If you are intrigued by the technical and computer-based aspect of video game design, then you may excel in a degree program based in science and computers. This may include a bachelors in computer science and game design or a bachelors of science in interactive simulations.

What Can You Do with a Game Design Degree?

Video Game Designers having fun while working

With a bachelor’s degree in video game design, you may be qualified for a rewarding career in artistic and creative positions, technical positions, or a blend of both.

Career titles in design-focused paths may include art director, multimedia artist or animator, or graphic designer. Technical positions could include software engineer, systems designer, or game programmer.

Some employers and positions may allow you to balance both artistic and technical skills, such as the position of video game designer. This position may require you to utilize knowledge of game programming, computer animation, and graphic design.

Getting Your Game Design Degree Online

Game Design Degree student studying online in a cafe

If you’re interested in video games, including their visual assets, storytelling, and technical makeup, then you may want to consider enrolling in a video game design program. A bachelors degree in game design may offer you the opportunity to work on projects that combine creativity and artistry with technical computer and software-based skills.

With good earning potential, higher than average job growth, and a range of career options available, now may be a strategic time to consider pursuing an accredited degree in video game design.

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Brenda Pyzik
WRITTEN BY
Brenda Pyzik
Brenda has a bachelor’s in sociology from the University of Waterloo, with a minor in legal studies. She obtained a graduate certificate in human resource management from Georgian College. Brenda focuses on employment, business, and training and development.