There are several diverse options when considering video game design careers. Although each developer has its own job positions and job descriptions, most design jobs fall in one of a few general categories.
A quality assurance tester is one the most basic game design careers, but it is also one of the most important. A quality assurance tester’s primary role during the production of a game is to test it for any problems the game experiences while running. A common misconception regarding quality assurance testers is that they do not test the game until a later stage in the process, either during the alpha or beta versions of a game. In actuality, the QA testers begin testing games soon after there are playable versions of the game based on guidelines set by the game’s designers and producers. The average salary for a QA tester is around $40,000. For the best possibilities of obtaining a job as a QA tester and for advancement in this field, there are several degrees that can help you. Because of the technical programming elements involved in this field, you should look to attain a BA in Visual and Game Programming.
During all of the steps of creating a video game, there is the job of actually designing the game. This is where game designers come in. The primary role of a game designer is to establish all of the elements that will be incorporated into the game. This includes, among several important responsibilities, defining the game concept, clearing up the details of the game’s story and the establishing the production team based on the available budget. Designers make an average salary of around $68,000. For those looking into game design jobs, it should be noted that several designers have previous experience as QA testers and have cited this experience as extremely valuable during the game design process. It is recommended that potential designers have a Bachelor’s degree in computer science.
One of the most important elements of video games is the visual element. Game artists and animators are in charge of establishing the look of the game, which includes all visual elements of the game including character art and the design of the game’s environment. Although artists and animators are two distinct positions, they are often considered one and the same within the industry because they must work so closely together in order to achieve the best results. There is a constant back and forth between the artists and the animators, constantly making adjustments in order to achieve the most effective visual effect. The average salary for artists and animators is around $70,000. Jobs in this specific part of the game production process require a BA in art and design, a BA in game design or BA in visual arts with a focus on game art.
Perhaps the most overlooked of all game design careers is the role of sound designer. Because video games are such a visual genre, the importance that sound plays in the video game experience is often unrecognized. A sound designer is responsible for all of the sound in a game, including the voice acting, sounds effects and the game’s sound track. Sound designers make an average salary of $78,000. For those looking into this field, you should have a Bachelor’s in sound design or in audio engineering.
An often unappreciated but crucial role during the development process of a game is the job of producer. Although the specific duties of a video game producer’s job vary from game to game, the overall role of the producer is to oversee the entire process, to make sure that every member of the production team stays on task and that all important deadlines are being met. It is generally recognized in the video game industry that producers are the third highest paid members of the production team, making an average salary of around $75,000. Because of the supervisory nature of the job, producers should have a Bachelor’s in business administration.
While all parts of the game production process are important to the final product, they mean nothing if they are not effectively put together. This is where the programmers come in. The most essential role of a programmer is to create codebase for the game. This branches out into specific roles, such as the physics engine programmer, graphics engine programmer, AI programmer and many more. This is the most technical of all game design careers, and the salary reflects this. The average salary for a programmer is around $85,000. Because this is the most specialized job in the production process, those looking to become programmers are required to have at least a Bachelor’s in software engineering or in computer science.