Gaming is so popular these days that 67 percent of U.S. households engage. Not only this, but video games have not been “for kids” for quite some time. In fact, according to the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), in 2010, just 25 percent of gamers were under 18. The average age of a gamer is 34 and the most frequent game purchaser is often around 39. Further, around 49 percent of gamers are 18-49 years of age and twenty-six percent were over 50. Finally, around two out of every five players are female.
Because the industry has changed so dramatically since the days of Pac-Man and Pole Position, training programs for aspiring game designers and developers have changed as well. Today’s game design programs prepare students to work in this dynamic field by going beyond just teaching design principles, techniques, and skills. Most programs teach students how to thrive in todays competitive game design industry by also focusing on the industry itself, the business side, project management, writing, and more. Fortunately for aspiring game designers in Florida, several game design schools in the state do just that.
Before we dive into which Florida schools offer the best programs for aspiring game designers and developers, take a look at what the state has to offer. For starters, Florida has an excellent scene for game players and those with a passion for creating them. The state is home to a variety of conventions such as Florida Supercon—Miami’s Comic Con, MegaCon Orlando, and Otronicon, which is presented by Orlando Science Center. Finally, gaming venues, retailers, tournaments, associations, and more can be found in cities small and large from Altamonte Springs to Miami to Zephyrhills.
Florida Game Design Schools
Florida is home to 223 Title IV colleges and universities. More than one million students are enrolled and thousands are enrolled in art and design, computer science and technology, communications and other areas that offer game design and development programs. Below are some of Florida’s most prominent schools for game designers and the unique degree programs they offer.
Florida Atlantic University – Degrees Offered: BS Computer Science. Among the principal areas within this degree are Video Game Development and Human-Computer Interaction.
Keiser University – Degrees Offered: AS Video Game Design. Also offered at the Pembroke Pines and Port St. Lucie campuses.
Florida Polytechnic University, College of Innovation & Technology– Degrees Offered: BS in Computer Science with a Cyber Gaming Concentration.
Florida Southern College – Degrees Offered: BS Computer Science. This multidisciplinary program includes Computer Game Design.
Florida Institute of Technology – Degrees Offered: BS Computer Science with a Focus in Graphics or Human-Computer Interaction
The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (The DAVE School) – Degrees Offered: Diploma in Game Production. This intensive, 15-month program covers Modeling & Sculpting, Game Production, Game Engine Fundamentals, Game Asset Production, and Animation Fundamentals.
University of Central Florida + Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) – Degrees Offered: BA Digital Media with a Specialization in Game Design, MFA Emerging Media with a Digital Media Track, MA in Digital Media - Visual Language and Interactive Media
Ringling College of Art and Design – Degrees Offered: BFA Game Art & Design, BFA Computer Animation, Illustration, and Motion Design, BA and a Minor in the Business of Art & Design
Full Sail University - Degrees Offered: BS Game Art, BS Game Development, MS Game Design, MS Mobile Gaming
More Florida Schools with Game related programs:
- Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, France, and Online via SCAD eLearning
Employment and Salary Trends for Florida Game Designers
Game designers and developers are both talented artists and skilled software developers. However, figures for software developers are closer to what aspiring game designers can expect in the areas of employment outlook and salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the U.S. is home to more than 1.1 million software developers averaging $95,510 to $102,880 per year. The lowest 10 percent of software developers earn less than $56,310, and the top 10 percent earn more than $149,480. Florida is home to nearly 39,000 software developers averaging $84,650 to $94,760 per year. In 2008, the state was home to 30,750 software developers averaging $79,340 to $83,280 per year.
Several other sources offer salary information for game designers and developers. According to Gamasutra’s latest Game Developer Salary Survey (2014), game developers nationwide averaged $83,060 in 2013. It is important to note that salaries for game designers and developers vary based on location (city), company, experience, employer, and more. For example, according to Indeed, Tallahassee-based game designers average $123,000 per year, while Miami and Orlando-based game designers average around $98,000 and $91,000 per year, respectively.
In addition to much higher than average salaries, software developers will see an impressive amount of employment growth in the coming years. Overall employment growth for this industry is 17 percent for the 2014-2024 decade, which is much faster than average for all occupations.
Awesome Animation Fact: While many celebrity voices are easy to recognize in popular animated films and TV series—James Earl Jones and Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane and Mila Kunis come to mind, others might be a bit tougher to identify and most will surprise you. Good examples: Jeremy Irons was the voice of Scar in The Lion King, Christian Bale played John Smith’s Sidekick, Thomas, in Pocahontas, and Howie Mandel played Bobby in FOX Kids' Bobby's World.