Game Design Job Outlook

Learn more about careers in game design. Find information on game design careers, job outlook, salary, and recommended schools. View popular schools that prepare students for careers as game designers.


Video games are often vilified as a contributor to a number of social ills. Video games have been cited as contributors to social violence, increased levels of inactivity in children and short attention spans in children. Given all of these problems it is hard to imagine that playing video games could lead to a fun and rewarding career in game design. Successful video game design requires the contributions of a broad range of professionals, each providing an important foundation for game development and design. Most professionals working in the field note a deep love of video games and many believe that by working in game design they are fulfilling a lifelong passion.

Although the complete video game requires different aspects for development, game designers are principally responsible for creating the blueprint that will be the foundation of the game. Designers create the vision, mission and rules of the game so that players can engage with the final product. Through their roles in the video game development process, designers create new ideas and stories that can provide users with hundreds of hours of entertainment and fun. If designers create a game that is classified as “addictive” by video game users, the designer is declared a success.


Design of a video game requires the contributions of artists, programmers and individuals identified specifically as designers. While designers are charged with the principle responsibility of designing the blueprint for the game, this position is further broken down into: lead designer and level designer. Lead designers assume the role of project manager, developing the overall vision for the video game. The lead designer creates the concept for the game and directs the design from the beginning of the game to its conclusion. Lead designers first engage in brainstorming to develop a concept. After which storyboards are used to provide a general understanding of the concept. Once the concept is approved, the lead designer develops a detailed plan for the game through the creation of a design document. Level designers, on the other hand, work on smaller portions of the video game. These individuals use the vision of the lead designer to bring the game to life. In their positions, level designers work with artists and programmers to figure out how to make the game a reality.


Information regarding the salaries of video game designers is scant. Some professionals may work on a consulting basis, enabling them to acquire higher salaries. Designers that create popular games that have high sales volumes may be eligible for royalties from their creations. At the low end of the salary scale, level designers may make $35,000 per year. More experienced lead designers may command salaries in excess of $75,000 annually, noting including bonuses and royalties. Professionals working in this filed are required to have a broad range of skills including: computer programming, software design and communications. Positions in video game design require the synthesis of these areas such that designers are able to create video games that are practical to develop and are able to connect with users. Designers that complete successful game designs with high volume sales will be able to establish a strong reputation. This reputation can be leveraged in the industry to command a higher salary.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for video game designers appears to be quite robust overall. Each year, video game sales continue to increase at a substantial pace. Video games are one of the highest grossing industries in the entertainment business. Advances in communication and computer technology have enhanced the experiences of customers when using video games. When the size and scope of the video game industry are reviewed, it becomes evident that demand for game designers will only increase in the coming years to keep pace with growth in the industry. Advances in technology will require designers to have a broad technical background that will enable them to design games for the latest video game platforms. Designers with technical expertise and experience in video game design will have the most opportunities for employment. Designers capable of working as integral parts of collaborative teams (including artists, programmers and other designers) will also have access to more employment opportunities.

Recommended Schools

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