What Is the Salary of a Video Game Designer?

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As video games enter the mainstream, game designer salaries grow.
As video games enter the mainstream, game designer salaries grow. (Image: black and blue game pads image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com)

The video game industry is a fast growing industry with ample opportunity for tech savvy employees. According to the Entertainment Software Association's 2010 “Video Games in the 21st Century” report, the gaming industry grew 16.7 percent from 2005 to 2008 while the United State's economy only saw a 2.8 percent growth. Game designers, those responsible for creating a game's rules and structure, reap the benefits of this growing field in the form of fruitful salaries.

Entry-level Salaries

According to a 2009 report by Animation Arena, video game designers with less than three years experience make an average annual salary of about $46,000. Once a designer acquires between three and six years of experience, they see a salary increase to about $55,600 yearly.

High-level Salaries

Video game designers with over six years of industry experience average an annual salary of nearly $70,000. Some go on to become creative directors or lead designers, high-level creative positions that net a starting income of roughly $45,000 per year. With over three years experience, creative directors and lead designers bring home about $54,000 yearly while those with over six years experience net about $81,000. In 2009, $180,000 was the highest reported salary of a lead designer or creative director.

Salary Bonuses

According to reports from PayScale, video game designers in 2010 brought home annual salary bonuses ranging from $992 to $5,062 dollars. Profits from commission–bonuses awarded based on the sales of video games the designer worked on–ranged from $972 to $2,543 dollars per year. Game designers that partake in profit sharing, or a sharing of their company's annual net profits, take home an additional $983 to $5,087 as of 2010.

Benefits

Most video game designers earn money-saving benefits in addition to their salaries. According to PayScale, 83 percent of designers in 2010 had medical insurance while 67 had dental insurance. Fifty-eight percent received vision insurance in addition to their salary. Only 15 percent of video game designers reported no benefits.

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