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Video Game Designers
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Description: what do they do?
Design core features of video games. Specify innovative game and role-play mechanics, story lines, and character biographies. Create and maintain design documentation. Guide and collaborate with production staff to produce games as designed.
Also known as:
Senior Game Designer, World Designer, Lead Designer, Mid Level Game Designer, Game Designer/Creative Director, Lead Level Designer, Game Designer, Lead Game Designer, Designer/Writer, Design Director

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from an O*NET database. Learn more on the Help page.

Career video
    Transcript: Video game designers create the rich, exciting worlds that allow us to indulge our imaginations and immerse ourselves in an alternate reality. If you play video games, you’ve probably thought about turning it into a career, but know there are many dimensions to this occupation. Video game designers start with a list of concepts, narrowed down by a large team of developers to the best one. Teamwork is essential in this field, as designers collaborate on role-play mechanics, story lines, character development, graphics, and everything in between. They are likely to need expertise in programming languages and game design computer software as well. They usually work in office settings, with typical office hours expanding to overtime as project deadlines approach. A single project usually lasts about two years, and ‘crunch’ time can last months - but through it all, these designers still report high levels of job satisfaction. To enter the field, some will create a portfolio of video game designs and concepts that will help them get noticed and hired. Others start out as quality assurance testers and work their way up. A bachelor’s degree in computer science isn’t usually required, but can be helpful if you lack other experience. These professionals aren’t just making games – they’re designing the future of gameplay experience.
View transcript
Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.

This occupation is:
  • Expected to grow much faster than average


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings" above. This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET Bright Outlook occupations, 2019. Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll only see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
United States
412,800
2018 Employment
455,000
2028 Employment
10%
Percent change
35,700
Annual projected job openings
You’re seeing projected employment information for Computer occupations, all other because we don’t have information for Video Game Designers.

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2016 (for states) or 2018 (for the United States), the number expected to be employed in 2026 (for states) or 2028 (for the United States), and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions of unemployment rates and labor productivity growth rates.  While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central and each state's Labor Market Information office, 2016-26.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2018-28.

Typical wages

Annual wages for Computer Occupations, All Other* in United States
This graph displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
* You’re seeing wages for Computer Occupations, All Other because we don’t have information for Video Game Designers.
This chart displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
LocationUnited States
10%$43,780
25%$62,620
Median$88,550
75%$117,260
90%$146,440


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Program, May 2019 survey. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

Education and experience: to get started
You’re seeing education information for Computer occupations, all other because we don’t have information for Video Game Designers. Please note the information may not be the same for both occupations.

    What does this information tell me?

    This shows you the typical level of education, work experience, and on-the-job training that most people have when they start in this career. Note that these are not requirements for entering this field, but the information can help you understand how qualified you might be.

    Interested in starting in this career? You can search for education programs in your local area by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Education and training assignments by detailed occupation, 2018.

Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained
You’re seeing education information for Computer occupations, all other because we don’t have information for Video Game Designers. Please note the information may not be the same for both occupations.

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Educational attainment for workers 25 years and older by detailed occupation, 2016–17.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Design video game features or details.
  • Communicate project information to others.
  • Collaborate with others to determine design specifications or details.
  • Document design or development procedures.
  • Manage information technology projects or system activities.
  • Manage documentation to ensure organization or accuracy.
  • Test software performance.
  • Prepare graphics or other visual representations of information.
  • Update knowledge about emerging industry or technology trends.
  • Supervise information technology personnel.
  • Analyze market or customer related data.
  • Develop testing routines or procedures.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Communications and Media - Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Skills
People in this career often have these skills:
  • Programming - Writing computer programs.
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
  • Critical Thinking - Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
  • Reading Comprehension - Reading work-related information.
  • Active Learning - Figuring out how to use new ideas or things.
  • Time Management - Managing your time and the time of other people.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one.
  • Coordination - Changing what is done based on other people's actions.
  • Systems Analysis - Figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it.
  • Speaking - Talking to others.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list the work-related skills most commonly required for jobs in the career.

    This list can help you understand how well your current skills fit this career. It can also help you plan your education or professional development.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Skills descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Originality - Creating new and original ideas.
  • Near Vision - Seeing details up close.
  • Fluency of Ideas - Coming up with lots of ideas.
  • Written Comprehension - Reading and understanding what is written.
  • Oral Comprehension - Listening and understanding what people say.
  • Oral Expression - Communicating by speaking.
  • Problem Sensitivity - Noticing when problems happen.
  • Deductive Reasoning - Using rules to solve problems.
  • Written Expression - Communicating by writing.
  • Information Ordering - Ordering or arranging things.
  • Inductive Reasoning - Making general rules or coming up with answers from lots of detailed information.
  • Selective Attention - Paying attention to something without being distracted.
  • Visualization - Imagining how something will look after it is moved around or changed.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Enterprising - Occupations with Enterprising interests frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. Many involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
  • Artistic - Occupations with Artistic interests frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and allow for developing unique approaches to conducting the work.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

Typical tasks
  • Balance and adjust gameplay experiences to ensure the critical and commercial success of the product.
  • Provide feedback to designers and other colleagues regarding game design features.
  • Create core game features including storylines, role-play mechanics, and character biographies for a new video game or game franchise.
  • Devise missions, challenges, or puzzles to be encountered in game play.
  • Guide design discussions between development teams.
  • Develop and maintain design level documentation, including mechanics, guidelines, and mission outlines.
  • Create and manage documentation, production schedules, prototyping goals, and communication plans in collaboration with production staff.
  • Conduct regular design reviews throughout the game development process.
  • Present new game design concepts to management and technical colleagues, including artists, animators, and programmers.
  • Solicit, obtain, and integrate feedback from design and technical staff into original game design.
  • Document all aspects of formal game design, using mock-up screenshots, sample menu layouts, gameplay flowcharts, and other graphical devices.
  • Provide feedback to production staff regarding technical game qualities or adherence to original design.
  • Prepare two-dimensional concept layouts or three-dimensional mock-ups.
  • Consult with multiple stakeholders to define requirements and implement online features.
  • Oversee gameplay testing to ensure intended gaming experience and game adherence to original vision.
  • Keep abreast of game design technology and techniques, industry trends, or audience interests, reactions, and needs by reviewing current literature, talking with colleagues, participating in educational programs, attending meetings or workshops, or participating in professional organizations or conferences.
  • Create gameplay prototypes for presentation to creative and technical staff and management.
  • Write or supervise the writing of game text and dialogue.
  • Collaborate with artists to achieve appropriate visual style.
  • Determine supplementary virtual features, such as currency, item catalog, menu design, and audio direction.
  • Review or evaluate competitive products, film, music, television, and other art forms to generate new game design ideas.
  • Prepare and revise initial game sketches using two- and three-dimensional graphical design software.
  • Provide test specifications to quality assurance staff.
  • Create gameplay test plans for internal and external test groups.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.