Will a Game Design Degree Teach Me Current and Upcoming Technology?

Game design careers don’t require a degree specifically in game design, but the technology taught in a game design degree gives students a specialized expertise in this field. Game designers can enter this field with a computer science or multimedia art degree, but a game design degree combines elements from both of these fields. With a game design degree, you’ll learn C and C-like programming languages, OpenGL and DirectX 3-D programming, principles of application design and 3-D modeling and rendering.

Game designers face strong competition for jobs in the video game industry, but skills acquired with a game design degree translate to other areas, such as artificial intelligence research, physical sciences and other academic and private research areas that require 3-D modeling, virtual reality and graphics programming. In addition to technology skills, game design degrees teach art and design skills to develop students’ creativity and abstract thinking.

What Technology is Used to Make Video Games?

Most game designers use software to design the application architecture of video games, but some designers are also expert software engineers with experience designing the underlying data structures and interactions between the parts of software that make up the game. Examples of software used to design game worlds include Unity3D, Unreal and Crytek, which allow designers to import graphics from 3-D art software such as Maya, 3-D Studio Max and Cinema 4-D and then visually manipulate these graphics instead of being limited to only writing code. Game designers also need to understand network programming and how to design efficient online games for devices with limited network speed and processing power, such as smartphones and other portable devices.

For game designers more interested in the creative side of the industry, 3-D art, graphic design and even creative writing skills are needed to bring video games from the storyboard stage to the final product. The biggest demand is in 3-D modeling and artwork, which involves sculpting, skinning, texturing, rigging, lighting and rendering 3-D scenes for high-resolution movies as well as low-poly game levels. Low-poly models require knowledge of bump and normal mapping to provide the illusion of high-detail geometry while reducing system requirements. Even though modern gaming equipment can render realistic 3-D graphics with advanced shading and tessellation in real time, high-poly models are reserved for pre-rendered scenes and movies because they often require hundreds of hours to render on a network of high-powered processing nodes.

How Much Do Video Game Designers Make?

According to¬†CNN Money, the technology taught in a game design degree prepares students to earn anywhere from $72,000 to $117,000 per year. Job growth in this industry is expected to be extremely high at 27.6 percent over the next ten years, with most jobs coming from mobile, online and desktop game markets. Competition for these jobs is extremely high, and so is the pressure to avoid making errors by producing games with programming bugs. Game designers spend part of their time creating and developing games and the rest of their time debugging and perfecting the technology and ideas they’ve come up with.

Game design careers require a special set of skills that specifically apply to making video games, and this career path involves many sacrifices, including long work hours and, possibly, relocation. If you have the passion and dedication to enter this rewarding field, keep learning about the technology taught in a game design degree.