Is a College Degree Needed to Become a Game Developer?

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  • The world of video game design and development presents a unique opportunity for students and young adults with the right education, training, and creative skills. Anyone who might be considering pursuing a career in this industry should pay close attention to the message in this post.

    While the prospect of working as a video game designer certainly does have a particular appeal, it is important to approach the job from the right perspective. Sure, the prospect of being part of a major game franchise is an exciting one, but there are a few serious questions that need to be addressed first.

    Is formal education a requirement? If so, what should a student serious about a career in this field be studying? What degrees or certificate programs do employers look for on an aspiring developer’s résumé or CV? Let’s have a look at these questions and, hopefully, answer a few more along the way.

    Basic Employment Requirements

    The requirements for becoming a video game designer vary based on the type of work the applicant is pursuing. Is the objective to work with a major game development company? Will the applicant be working on console games, PC-based games, online / MMPORG, mobile apps, or something else?

    Anyone looking to get a foot in the door at a major game development company will need a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree. The applicant will ultimately work on a team, most likely focusing on a single aspect of game development, then build up a stronger skill set over time.

    Employers in this field are looking for degrees in areas like computer science, computer programming, and computer-aided design. Individual companies will always have their own in-house requirements for education levels and areas of training as well.

    It can be difficult keeping up with the educational requirements of an entry-level designer. Some students find it necessary to pick up more elective courses or go through the process of changing majors. All of this can have adverse effects on one’s ability to keep up with coursework, particularly writing assignments. In those instances, you can use a cheap essay writing service for students. There are many professional writers, editors, and proofreaders who can help. These types of academic services help students meet submission deadlines and free up time for study or building their game design portfolios.

    Employer-Based Career Paths

    Requirements also vary based on the kinds of games involved. Different technologies are required to produce games for consoles in relation to PC or mobile platforms. It, therefore, stands to reason that the applicant would need specialized education and skills in specific areas.

    While far from complete, the following is a basic sample of some of the degrees or skills needed for a few general areas of game design. We encourage serious students and job seekers to do all the research possible on their preferred career path to pre-determine their educational needs and select the right certificate or degree program(s).

    PC-Based Games – courses in computer programming, 2D and 3D animation, basic drawing, and visual design

    Console Games – Bachelor’s degree and/or specified certificate programs, ability to pass competency tests in basic programming, analytical, and critical thinking skills (all are possible elective college courses)

    Mobile Gaming – demonstrated understanding and ability to work on all major platforms (currently iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile), mastery of cross-platform development tools, and specialized certificates or passing scores on competency test as put forth by the employer

    Competency tests are also required by some prospective employers as part of their prescreen process. These tests can usually be taken online either independently or, in some cases, in a controlled, proctored classroom environment. Online training modules are the usual delivery method for pre-test education in those instances.

    Entrepreneurial Career Paths

    While the prospect of working as a developer for a big video game company is very exciting, the truth of the matter is that those jobs are few and very competitive to land. This is why many aspiring developers choose more entrepreneurial paths.

    Many game developers work as freelancers, bidding on contracts and collaborating with other freelancers to sharpen their skills. In those instances, there are no hard-and-fast educational requirements. Individual clients will, however, likely have their own expectations about the developer’s education when considering him or her for the project.

    Degree or No Degree: The Verdict

    A college degree is always a good idea when attempting to land a job or attract clients. This is true in any industry. For those who lack the means or desire to pursue a degree, there are other options when pursuing a career in video game design.

    Those looking to land a job with their dream employer will almost always need to have a degree. In the case of freelance work, clients will typically want only to see demonstrable skills in key areas. This is why it is important to start learning and practicing those skills as early as possible. The decision to pursue a degree or not has everything to with the individual and what his or her long-term career goals entail.

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