A person who wants to be a game designer may wonder which is better for employers: a degree or experience designing games. While there is a lot to be said for earning a Bachelor’s in Computer Science, real-world experience is also important. A student or prospective game designer should keep these considerations in mind when planning their educational and career paths.
Types of Degrees and Majors for Video Game Designers
A person who wants to get a job as a game designer should plan to get a degree in animation, video game design or graphic design. The degree route to employment in this field allows a person to understand the theories behind what makes a game a psychologically stimulating experience. The degree route also includes the technical knowledge needed for coding and designing the games, explains Target Jobs.
Some people leave college or university after taking a few courses but not completing the requirements for a degree. There is still a path to becoming a video game designer for these people who leave school before graduating. That path requires a lot of work experience. An internship is a good way to get that experience. An apprenticeship is another option. The individual will need to put together a comprehensive portfolio of their work to convince prospective employers of their skills.
Breaking Into Video Game Design
The portfolio of work is often the most important part of an individual’s application for a job as a video game designer. The portfolio could be projects done as a part of a student’s courses at college or university. This is true even for those who leave school before graduating. The portfolio could also include projects done out of personal interest. Those who have done freelance work or completed an apprenticeship should also include those projects in their portfolios. Employers look for the diversity of projects and the quality of the projects.
Setting Oneself Apart
Video game design is a highly competitive industry. Prospective video game designers could set themselves apart by entering game design competitions or contests. Many hiring managers coordinate these events, sponsor them or judge them. A prospective designer could make a name for themselves by entering these competitions and putting forth a great effort and excellent product. These events could also be ideal networking opportunities. By leveraging connections, a person may have a better chance at getting an entry-level job in video game design.
Develop the Desired Skills
In a survey of employers by the Undercover Recruiter, 75 percent said that recent college graduates lack practical skills. A person who earns a degree could take it upon themselves to develop the skills that video game design companies want. Learning several of the computer programming languages that popular games are built on would be a good start in making oneself more marketable to employers.
Reasons to Get a Degree and Experience
People with a bachelor’s degree have a 2.5 percent unemployment rate as of 2019 compared to 4.6 percent for people with a high school diploma. According to Investopedia, those who have at least a bachelor’s degree earn a median wage of $1,173 per week, compared to $712 per week for those with a high school diploma. More money and a lower unemployment rate are two good reasons to earn a degree. A person who wants to know more about theory and the history of game design could also benefit from the courses they would take for a bachelor’s degree. These benefits do need to be weighed against the cost of earning a degree. Another consideration is the educational institution. A person who earns a degree from a well-respected university or college could have access to alumni services and connections, which could also help them find a job in video game design.
Students and new graduates should keep in mind that video and app game designing is a highly competitive industry. The more relevant experience they have from projects, internships and independent work, the more likely they are to find gainful employment or to get a contract as a freelance game designer. Ultimately, the top employers want candidates who have education and experience. Understanding which is better for employers, a degree or experience with designing games, helps a person prioritize their time and resources.