These days, more and more interactive gamers are transforming their passion for gaming into an exciting career in Animation or Video Game Design. The skills involved in this promising profession appeal as much to tech-savvy competitors as to artists who can finally make a living at their craft. Many businesses in Washington employ Animators and Video Game Designers. In the United States, more than one in ten of these jobs are located in and around Seattle, and similar opportunities exist throughout the state.
Washington Schools and Training Programs for Video Game Design
Dozens of colleges and Universities in Washington offer degree programs in Animation and Video Game Design. Passionate gamers often become computer science majors with emphasis on digital graphics. Others might choose to major in programming or math with emphasis on game design and animation.
Local schools offering degrees in interactive game design include The Art Institute, The International Academy of Design and the Academy of Interactive Entertainment in Seattle, as well as the DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond. Statewide educational options include DeVry, which has campuses in Lynwood, Bellevue and Federal Way. Training programs in Animation and Video Game Design are also available online.
Working as a Video Game Designer in Washington
Animators and Video Game Designers who work hard at their craft can rake in the cash doing something they truly enjoy. As you might expect, the pay rate for this type of work varies depending on experience, effort, talent, ability, personality, networking and geographic location. The average annual salary for Animators and Video Game Designers nationwide is about $63,000, ranging anywhere from about $35,000 to more than $200,000 per year. Game designers in the state of Washington can expect to earn, on average, somewhere between $30,000 and $100,000 annually. However, this data fails to account for the ghostly incomes of countless self-employed individuals.
Companies in Washington hiring Video Game Designers include software publishers, mobile phone service providers, colleges, universities, graphic design firms and animation studios, in addition to top local advertising agencies like Creature, Evans Group, Merkle, Razorfish and Wunderman in Seattle, Stevenson in Lynwood or Alling Henning in Vancouver. Some designers work for local movie producers like Screen Play, Digital Kitchen and Intermedia in Seattle, Sucker Punch Productions in Bellevue or North by Northwest in Spokane, to name a few.
Corporate entry level positions in Video Game Design generally require at least an Associate's degree and a solid background in video game design. But you don't necessarily have to work for a firm, considering the teeming masses of private companies and websites featuring (or wanting to feature) their own video games. Animators and Video Game Designers often work as freelance consultants, creating their own schedules and telecommuting from home. They might secure gigs as independent contractors for companies and private businesses. Or design and sell their own games independently. Or build their own game-related websites.
Recommended Skills for Video Game Designers
The basic job of the Video Game Designer is to create a game with straightforward rules and a plausible scoring system, then enhance the game by way of unique thinking puzzles, booby traps or other clever challenges aimed at keeping the players amused. The designer then creates the artwork and/or consults with professional Animators and other graphic artists to capture a visual style suitable to the type of game. The designer also conducts play-testing sessions featuring enough players to give some idea of the game's potential for commercial success.
Professional Video Game Designers study math, computer science, digital graphics, game theory, story lines, character development, marketing, promotion and many other subjects in an effort to create the most realistic, action-packed interactive products. Video Game Designers strive for mass market appeal, hoping that their games become best sellers.