In This Article
If you’re considering learning video game design, then perhaps you’re an avid gamer. And lately, you may have been asking yourself: why not combine my passion for video games with a career?
Learning game design is an excellent place to start. This is because game design will teach you everything you need to know about the process of building a game: you’ll learn software, production and pipeline, principles of art and design, game platforms, scripting, asset management, and much more.
Let’s do a deep dive and see whether going to school for game design is the right fit for you.
Is it Worth It to Study Game Design?
Consider what a game designer’s job entails before you decide. As a game designer, you will be responsible for developing concepts into working games. In this way, the job of a game designer is very similar to that of a TV or film director—the designer is the visionary with the grand idea.
A game designer is responsible for the following:
- overall look of the game.
- outline and storyboards.
- settings and rules.
- gameplay mechanics.
A game designer must understand:
- game software and hardware limitations.
- programming language.
- player psychology.
- game trends.
- how to work within budgets.
- how to work within timelines.
- how to brainstorm and collaborate.
- project management best practices.
A game designer must work with a variety of people in different capacities, including:
- clients (or publishers).
- game artists.
- sound engineers.
- game testers.
If you already have a love of games and feel you have (or could acquire through training) the skills needed to design games, then a career as a video game designer might be ideal for you.
Is it Too Late to Be a Game Designer?
If you’re considering a career switch, whether from a related field or not, the answer to the question “Is it too late?” is yours to answer. But we can help.
First, if you’re concerned about your age, consider that the average age of an employee in this industry in Canada is 32 years old (please note the word ‘average’—there are plenty of people working in gaming in their 30s, 40s, and onwards).
Second, if you’re already established in another job or career, ask yourself: Do you have the time to undertake what the program will ask of you?
You can answer this question by narrowing down your choice of schools to one or two and then checking out each program’s curriculum. Take note of how many classes there are, and assignments. If the curriculum isn’t clear on assignments, take a tour of the school and talk to some of the faculty and students.
Remember to factor in where the school is located and how long it will take you to get there each day. Will taking the program interfere with your current job or other responsibilities (such as family), or can you fit it in?
How Likely Is It to Get a Job in Game Design?
The video game industry in Canada is growing. There are currently over 900 active video game companies in the country (with Ontario home to the most). In 2021, the industry generated $4.3 billion in revenue—a growth of 20% since 2019.
Keep in mind that like many roles, a game designer’s position may be defined differently depending on where they work or the size of the company. For instance, a game designer may be responsible for level designing too, or the company may have someone who specifically handles that area of production.
Is Game Design a Realistic Career?
Yes, it is, because not just anybody can design a video game—the job requires a specific skillset in a growing industry. In Canada alone, video game market revenue is expected to increase 8.6% annually until 2027. By that same year, there will be 14.3 million players in the country.
Is Game Design a Lot of Math?
It does require a solid understanding of math. However, it is the game developers who require a strong handle on mathematics, including algebra, calculus, geometry, physics and more. This is because game developers are specialists in the actual creation of the game—taking it from concept to reality—through software, coding, programming and testing.
Game designers, as mentioned above, are responsible for coming up with the concept. They are also responsible for the ‘user experience.’ It is helpful, however, for designers to learn the developer’s role (as well as that of other team members) so that they have a firm grasp of each person’s responsibilities when it comes to the creation of the game.
Is Game Designer a Stressful Job?
Game design is project-based, requiring a process. Because gaming hardware and software are constantly evolving, there will be periods when things don’t go as planned. As deadlines loom, the
stress can increase and the work days can become much, much longer. This is no different than many careers, which see regular periods of unexpected or intense work.
To get a good idea of the stress involved, ask for referrals from working game designers and get their take before you make a decision.
According to CareerExplorer, video game designers rate their career happiness at 4.2 out of 5 stars.
Final Thoughts on Being a Game Designer
Keep in mind that if you pursue training as a game designer, you will want to find a program that offers industry networking opportunities as part of the curriculum—like Toronto Film School’s Inner Circle Club. This means it’s more likely you will have connections in the industry before you graduate.
Working as a video game designer can be an exciting career. Although Toronto Film School offers two accelerated video game programs—Video Game Design & Animation and Video Game Design & Development, we encourage you to check out a variety of schools, visit campuses, and ask questions of faculty and students. This is so you can make an informed decision on whether becoming a video game designer is the right career path for you.
The Game Design FAQ
Q: What is video game design?
A: Video game design is the process of creating the visual, interactive, and audio elements of a video game. It involves designing the game mechanics, characters, storylines, and visuals to create a compelling gaming experience.
Q: What are the admission requirements for a game design program?
A: The admission requirements for a game design program will vary depending on the institution, but generally you will need to provide transcripts proving you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some programs may also require a portfolio of your previous artwork or design work, or an essay on why you wish to pursue a career in the video game industry
Q: What is the game design process?
A: The game design process involves many steps, including brainstorming ideas, creating prototypes, testing and refining the game mechanics, creating the game art and graphics, and finally, launching and marketing the game.
Q: What is game art?
A: Game art refers to the visual elements of a video game, including the characters, environments, props, and special effects. Game artists use various tools and software to create these visual elements and bring the game world to life.
Q: How can I become a game designer?
A: To become a game designer, you can pursue a diploma, degree or certification in game design or a related field. It is also beneficial to gain hands-on experience through internships or to find a school that will provide industry networking opportunities. One of your top priorities should be developing a strong portfolio showcasing your game design skills, as this will likely increase your chances of getting hired.
Q: What is the best game engine for beginners?
A: There are several game engines that are popular among beginners, such as Unity and Unreal Engine. Both of these engines have a user-friendly interface and provide a wide range of tools and resources to help you create your first game.
Q: What is game production?
A: Game production refers to the process of developing and releasing a video game. It includes tasks such as project management, directing and coordinating the efforts of the development team, and ensuring the game meets the desired quality standards.
Q: What are the options for international students interested in game design?
A: International students interested in game design can explore various options, such as studying abroad in a game design program, taking an online diploma program, or pursuing internships or job opportunities in the gaming industry.
Q: What is a professional game?
A: A professional game refers to a video game that is developed and released by a professional game studio. These games are usually of high quality and are created by a team of experienced game developers.
Q: What is the career path for game designers?
A: The career path for game designers can vary, but typically after one receives schooling it starts with entry-level positions such as a game tester or junior game designer. With experience and skills, game designers can progress to higher-level positions such as lead designer or creative director.