Animation and Video Game Design are among the most exciting careers in the world today. The skills involved are a perfect fit for tech-savvy types with a competitive spirit, as well as for artists finally able to make a living at their art. California is the best state for this kind of work, with its abundance of professional training options and a wide open job market easily accessible to the heart of America's entertainment industry.
Los Angeles Schools and Training Programs for Video Game Design
Quite a few colleges and Universities in the Los Angeles Area offer professional degrees in Animation and Video Game Design. Students interested in pursuing this type of career sometimes major in computer science with emphasis on digital graphics. Others earn a degree in programming or math with emphasis on game design and animation. Top local schools offering degrees in Animation and Interactive Game Design include USC, UCLA, California Institute of the Arts (Valencia), California Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obispo), California State Polytechnic University (Pomona) and Art Center College of Design (Pasadena). However, many lesser known schools throughout the region also offer this type of training.
Employment for Video Game Designers in Los Angeles
Professional animation specialists and video game designers are typically die-hard gamers earning hefty sums doing what they do best. Their salaries depend largely on experience, effort, talent, ability, networking and geographic location. The average annual salary for an Animator or Video Game Designer in Los Angeles is about $77,000. But this average does not reflect the salaries of self-employed individuals.
In the United States, more than one third of available jobs in Animation and Video Game Design are located in California. Many of these jobs are based in and around Los Angeles, where local businesses currently employ thousands of interactive game specialists. Companies hiring for these positions include software publishing houses, mobile phone service providers, colleges, universities and graphic design firms, as well as major advertising agencies like Satchi & Satchi, Foote, Cone & Belding, J. Walter Thompson and DDB Needham. Elite design talents at the top of their game can work for giant film producers like MGM, Walt Disney, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Dream Works and Warner Brothers.
Employers generally require a degree and several years experience for entry level positions of this kind. Fortunately, you don't have to work for a firm to succeed, considering the numerous independent businesses and websites featuring (or wanting to feature) their own video games. Professional Animators and Video Game Designers often do freelance work, securing regular gigs as independent contractors and working for many different companies.
Recommended Skills for Video Game Designers
Besides math and computer science, Video Game Designers study game theory, graphic design, story lines and character development in order to create realistic, action-packed interactive products. The designer works out the rules of the game, calculates a scoring system and creates puzzles and other interesting challenges to keep the players engaged. The designer then creates the artwork (or consults with Animators and other graphic artists) to capture a visual style appropriate to the game's main theme.