Did you know that around 67 percent of U.S. households play video games? Did you also know that kids do not dominate the world of gaming? It’s true. 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 actually 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. What’s even more surprising? Around two out of every five players are female.
Fortunately, today’s game design programs have been successful at minding trends and molding artists into multifaceted professionals with unlimited earning potential. Not only do today’s programs teach aspiring game designers how to develop and design video games, they teach students how to decipher demographics in order to market to the right groups, start and maintain a business, pitch ideas, and manage design and development teams. In the State of Texas, several major universities offer top-tier programs for today’s aspiring game designer. Before we discuss Texas’s top-rated game design & development schools, let’s take a look at some of the other benefits aspiring game designers in Texas will enjoy.
According to a CBS News report, the video game industry in The Lone Star State is “exploding.” With video game giants such as GameStop on its side, the state has experienced double-digit growth every year since 2005, “right through America’s worst economic crisis since the great depression.” In addition to GameStop, the state is home to more than 180 video game companies and it is second in the nation in game development jobs, according to the Texas Film Commission. Texas-based game designers also have access to a growing number of video game “meet-ups” as well as hundreds of associations and clubs such as The Network Gaming Club, and the Video Game Industry Association at Texas State.
Texas Game Design & Development Schools
Texas is home to 252 Title IV degree-granting institutions. It has the fourth highest number of schools in the U.S. and many offer top-rated programs for artists and designers. Just a few popular options include University of Texas-Austin, Southern Methodist University, and University of Texas at Dallas. Browse the list below to learn more about Texas’s best game design & development schools and what they have to offer.
Art Institute of Austin – Degrees Offered: BFA Game Art & Design, BFA Media Arts & Animation, BFA Visual Effects & Motion Graphics, BS Audio Production for Games
St. Edward’s University – Degrees Offered: BA Interactive Games Studies, Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Interactive Games Management, BBA and MBA Digital Media Management
University of Texas – Austin: Degrees Offered: Interdisciplinary Game and Mobile Media Applications (GAMMA) Program leading to Certificates in CS Game Development, CS Mobile Computing, CoFA Digital Art Production, CoFA Digital Audio Composition & Production, CoFA Digital World Designer, RTF Visual Effects & Animation
University of Texas at Dallas - Degrees Offered: BA Arts and Technology (BA ATEC), MA Arts and Technology (MA ATEC), MFA Arts and Technology (MFA ATEC), PhD Arts and Technology (PhD ATEC)
Southern Methodist University - Degrees Offered: BFA Digital Game Development, BFA/Masters of Interactive Technology (M.I.T) Digital Game Development; Professional Certificate in Digital Game Development with a Specialization in Art Creation, Level Design, Production, or Software Development
Art Institute of Fort Worth – Degrees Offered: BFA Game Art & Design, BFA Media Arts & Animation, BFA Visual Effects & Motion Graphics
University of Houston - Victoria – Degrees Offered: BS Computer Science with a Concentration in Digital Gaming and Simulation, BAAS with a Concentration in Digital Gaming and Simulation, MS in Computer Science with a Focus in Digital Gaming and Simulation
Baylor University – Degrees Offered: BA, BS Computer Science with Specializations in Gaming, Software Engineering, and Computer Science, MS Computer Science
More Game Design related programs to consider:
Texas Game Design & Development Schools – Other Options
Texas State Technical College (TSTC) in Waco offers an Associate of Applied Arts Degree in Game & Interactive Media Design Arts. According to the TSTC website, the program requires about five semesters to complete and it prepares students for positions in the industry such as “entry-level animator, design artist, and more.” TSTC graduates have found employment at “NASA, Rockstar, Big Huge Games, Energyz Studios, and GearBox Software, among others.”
In addition, Texas State University at San Marcos offers a variety of game design and development courses such as game scripting, game engines, game development, game design & implementation and more.
Employment and Salary Trends for Texas Game Designers & Developers
The gaming industry is expected to generate $91.5 billion worldwide in 2015 and $107 billion worldwide in 2017, according to the Global Games Market Report. The game design population is expected to grow anywhere from three to six percent, according to some reports, while others predict an even higher increase. Overall, at earnings of $90,060 to $99,000 per year, game designers earn one of the highest average annual salaries in the U.S. In Texas, salaries range from an impressive $97,030 to $101,230 per year.
According to the Texas Film Commission, “Texas has played a major role in the computer and video game industry since the 1980's, and continues to remain a hub for production. Texas has the second largest concentration of game companies in the U.S., providing around 4,000 full-time jobs.” Besides GameStop, designers may find employment at companies such as:
- BioWare, Austin
- Gearbox Software, Dallas/Fort Worth
- Blizzard Entertainment, Austin
- Epic Software Group, The Woodlands
- Replay Games, Austin
- Daybreak Game Company (formerly Sony Online Entertainment), Austin
- Finji, Austin
- Trion Worlds, Austin
- Replay Games
- Owlchemy Labs, Austin
While employment opportunities can be found in many cities across the state, Austin, the Dallas-Plano-Irving and Fort Worth-Arlington areas, Houston, and San Antonio may offer the most opportunities. Also worth considering are El Paso, Corpus Christi, and Laredo.
Awesome Animation Fact: MOCAP (motion capture, derp) is the thing that makes characters eerily life-like. The technology has been around since the 70s, but only entered the entertainment sphere around the mid-90s, right around the same time as pre-rendered full motion video. While there are dozens of different methods and implementations for MOCAP, most systems follow the same principle: markers of some kind are placed on an actor’s body, and as the actor moves, the positions of the markers are tracked at an absurdly high frame rate (at least double the desired final frame rate, and up to 10,000 fps in some setups). All that captured motion is then applied to a 3D model, and voilà, you have a character. -Max Behr, The Creators Project