5 Things to Consider Before Going to School for Game Design
By Sarah Danielson
Sometimes, some of our favorite hobbies can lead us to a great profession. Take gaming, for instance. You know that it’s something that you and your friends enjoy, but for you, it goes a bit deeper than using it as a casual pastime. You are the one who finds yourself curious about the graphics, the intricacies of the programming, and sometimes you even daydream about inventing a video game of your own.
You’re curious about going to school for game design, but you’re not really sure what is required. Here is some information to hopefully help you know if being a video game designer is something that should continue to be a leisure activity or one that you should consider doing full-time.
1. It’s a highly competitive market. When it comes to having a passion for game design, the truth of the matter is that there are a lot of people out there who are just as interested as you are. This makes the industry a highly competitive market. And so, in order to set yourself out from the rest, you must be driven and determined, while also being clear about the genre of games that you want to specialize in. Therefore, one of the first things you should do is read up on game design and development and even the art of storytelling. The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell and Challenges for Game Designers by Brenda Brathwaite are two great reads to get you started.
2. It’s one that you need education for. Although technically in order to be a professional game designer, you don’t need a degree, it does help to have some formal education under your belt when applying for jobs. Some schools that are top in the field are ITT Technical Institute, Devry University and Full Sail University. The benefit with all of these is that you can take classes on campus or online.
3. It requires a certain temperament. It’s pretty much a given that people who are game designers enjoy playing video games (lots and lots of video games), but a person needs more than that to be a successful one. They also need to be analytical, to have excellent problem-solving skills, be able to communicate clearly and concisely both orally and in print, and they need to be flexible. In game design, plans can change at a moment’s notice and designers need to be adaptable.
4. It’s a lot of work with a lot of hours. If you ask anyone who is a current game designer, while they may love what they do, they’re probably also tell you that a lot of sacrifice of time and brain power is required. Due to the constant changes in technology, game designers are always having to stay up-to-date with what’s current; they’re constantly working to upgrade programs that already exist. This means that for many, there is not a time clock that is punched. They work until the job is done and sometimes, it may feel like the job is never done.
5. Its possibilities are endless. From family games like Family Feud and Wheel of Fortune Online Game to sci-fi editions like Final Fantasy and one of 2012′s most highly-anticipated games, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, there are literally hundreds of video games to choose from and each year, there are dozens and dozens of new games on the market. This means that while the industry may be hard to get into, it’s not because of a lack of work that’s available. If after reading all of this, you are certain that gaming is what you want to do, go for it.
There’s no point in playing around with your future once you have a plan in place. Even if it’s a video game plan.
Sarah Danielson is a freelance writer and part time student. In her spare time she likes to go hiking and help with an animal rescue out of Los Angeles, California.