Designing video games is an extremely difficult career. Job security hinges on a project-to-project basis, and relocating your home is something you must understand. Video game companies are located all over the world, and getting a job may require you to drop your life and move across the globe. The industry is very competitive, so you must branch out to various parts of the industry. Do not expect to always be a video game designer; become an animator and modeler in your free time.
The concept of becoming a game designer is not as simple as just designing games. Many different jobs fall under the game designer category. For example, the writers write the story, the modelers model all of the characters, the level designers build the maps and the animators create all of the movements for everything in the game. All of these skills contribute to designing the game, and you must have skills and experience in all of these areas to be successful in the video game industry as a designer.
The pay for a video game designer varies from company to company, along with the experience the individual has in designing games. In 2008, the average game designer would make roughly $44,000 for having less than three years of experience; smaller or larger companies may pay more or less. This pay range grows approximately every three years, and may also change based on the success of the games you produce.
Being a full-time video game designer requires a passion for the industry. The work hours are long and grueling at times, especially when release dates approach. It will not simply be fun and games all the time; you are building a game from the ground up, and many small bits and pieces go into making a full-fledged video game. Understand that you may not get paid a lot for your efforts, and your company may go under if a video game flops.
Video game designers were originally just programmers. All of the games back in the 1970s and 1980s were programmed by hand, and all of the graphics were digits. This eventually grew to the point where video game teams hired graphic artists, who used their skill to enhance the visuals of the game. In the 1990s, video game companies started bringing writers in to assist with the storytelling. Designers never officially joined the video game team for companies until around the 2000s, and they are usually the project leaders for the video game.
Video game designers meet biannually at two large conferences held across the United States---one in Austin, Texas, and the other in San Francisco, California. These conferences attract video game designers from around the world, and they meet to discuss various topics in the field. The Austin conference is not as large as the San Francisco one, but designers should attend both to stay current on gaming topics.
- Photo Credit playing video games image by Lisa Turay from Fotolia.com