It may come as a surprise to you that a video game design degree exists, but the popularity of video games in American culture is a clear testament to how established an industry it has become. Over fifty percent of Americans play video games[i] and the market will most likely continue to grow as current gamers get older, the technology continues to develop, and the next generation of gamers emerges. Earning an online video game design degree may be a way for you to enter this growing and evolving industry.
What types of video game design degrees can I earn?
If you’re interested in earning a video game design degree, you may choose to work towards a certification program, an undergraduate Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree, or a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. Many video game design programs are designed to give you a well-rounded basis of knowledge in art skills, design, animation, art history, game theory and analysis, and other courses so that you may graduate with the capabilities to gain employment in the video game industry.
Earning an MFA in video game design may be a beneficial route if you intend on pursuing a career in the field, an idea backed up by Chris Hatala, the President, CEO, and co-founder of Massive Black, a major studio that deals in the film, television, and animation industry. Hatala earned his undergraduate degree in Industrial Technology in 1997 and had this to say about earning his Masters degree:
Read Chris Hatala’s full interview about how his interest in animation and education in technology led him to found one of the top art/design/animation companies.
Specialties in the Video Game Design Industry
There is a wide variety of people who work on different aspects of a video game from conception to the time it is made available to users in stores, as an app, or on a website. Listed below are some specialties associated with the video game design industry.
Directors: creative director, art director, cinematics director, technical art director.
Designers: lead game designer, level designer.
Animators: lead animator, character rigger TD, character animator, visual effects animator, 3D animator.
Artists: 3D modeler, texture artist, storyboard artist, concept artist (characters, vehicles, environments, technology, features), level artist, user interface artist.
The title, requirements, and salary for each of these specialties will vary based on industry, company, and region.
What majors are similar to a video game design major?
The art courses you may be required to take to earn an online video game design degree will most likely be quite specific to video games, since the objective is for students to graduate with a well-rounded knowledge of the structure of a game and the skill set to create it.
Some degrees that are similar to video game design are animation and visual effects, visual development, industrial design, and graphic design. See the difference between the Academy of Art University sample video game designer degree and their sample animation & visual effect – traditional animation degree. Some similar courses may be taught across different art majors but many courses are distinct.
The video game design major is fairly new—since personal digital gaming devices only became prevalent in the later part of the twentieth century. But as digital gaming technology grows increasingly sophisticated, it will most likely continue to attract a large number of students who are fascinated by it and passionate about pursuing a career in video game design.