Online Game Design Bachelor's Degree

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

The video game industry continues to increase its market share, with an estimated global revenue of $138 billion for 2018. Notably, new developments like virtual reality and eSports promise sustained future growth. Attending one of the country's top online game design schools serves as a major pathway to entering the exciting, ever-expanding field of modern game design and development. This page outlines major aspects of online game design degrees, including curriculum, typical skills learned, and career prospects after graduation.

What is Game Design?

Game design refers to the practice of creating a video game for the purpose of entertainment or education. Whether designed by an individual or a team, a game requires components that all work together -- for example, mechanics, rules, victory conditions, art, characters, and storyline.

Given the assortment of factors that go into creating a successful game, the term "game design" serves as a catchall to describe a multitude of roles and processes. The function of an art designer, for example, differs from that of a programmer. Many online game design schools allow you to pursue concentrated studies in one major aspect of game design.

Skills learned during a top game design program apply to various industries and professions. Programming, art design, quality assurance, and storyboarding, for example, can all apply to graphic design, software development, and animation. The process of designing a game also requires other transferable skills, such as communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity. A bachelor's in game design forms a strong foundation for employment in the field, and the degree typically functions nicely for some entry-level careers.

Earning an advanced degree, such as a master's, prepares you for upper-level leadership and design positions, though these jobs may also come after you've earned significant professional experience in the field. Regardless, if you're looking to get started in the industry, attending one of the many video game design schools online is a safe bet.

What Can I Do with an Online Game Design Bachelor's Degree?

While most students pursue a game design degree to create games, the degree offers versatile skills that translate to other industries. This section outlines the major skills emphasized in game design programs and potential career paths for game design majors. Along with positions in the gaming industry, you'll find information on other industries in which designers can succeed, including software development, motion pictures, and computer systems design.

Skills and Knowledge Gained

An online game design program offers an assortment of skills applicable to many aspects of game creation, including programming languages, animation, game design principles, graphic design, and statistics. Many online game design schools offer the option to specialize in one or more areas of study, such as programming, concept design, or animation.

Technical knowledge forms the basis of games, enabling all other aspects to function together. Programming dictates how games function and what players can do within them, creating the grammar of a gaming experience. Programming majors typically build a foundation in computer science -- studying algorithms, operating systems, and computer architecture -- as they learn skills more specific to game development, such as game engines. Skills learned during technical courses apply to many other fields, since students typically explore many of the major coding languages and computer science principles.

Conceptual design also forms a major part of game development, and almost any program includes a significant selection of courses dedicated to game design principles and theory. These courses introduce students to the practices of game design, exploring the methods through which interactive entertainment engages with users. Common topics include level design, cinematic communication, player controls, interface design, and usability testing.

Conceptual design also explores topics in programming and the use of game engines, but the focus rests less on technical knowledge and more on devising experiences for players. Many of the skills learned through the study of conceptual design relate to other forms of digital media, such as creating apps and other types of software.

Careers and Salary Potential

Given the nature of game design, common skills from the field translate to other industries, and game design majors may secure employment in other occupations. Below, you'll find an overview of industries that employ game design graduates, along with a list of five of the most common careers for game designers.

  • Motion Picture and Video Industries: Game design majors can use their visual and programming skills to work on movies and other video projects, assisting with special effects, digital editing, and computer animation.
  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services: The technical side of game design also relates to computer systems design, since game designers can use their programming skills to develop efficient computer systems.
  • Software Publishers: Game design skills also apply to the development of software and other applications. Game design majors can assist in areas such as programming and user interface design.
  • Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services: Game design majors may also find many of their skills relevant to advertising and public relations, such as interface design, user functionality, and art direction.
Multimedia Artists and Animators

Annual Median Salary: $70,530

Artists and animators produce content for all types of media, from television to movies to video games. They typically use computer programs to create animations and effects, often working as part of a team.

Software Developer, Games

Annual Median Salary: $63,808

Software developers create video games and typically play a major role in programming a game's architecture. They may also conceptualize game content, such as mechanics, characters, and level design.

Video Game Artist

Annual Median Salary: $52,303

These artists design and create the visual aspects of video games. Distinct from programmers, artists take responsibility for a game's aesthetic, such as backgrounds, characters, and menu systems.

Video Game Designer

Annual Median Salary: $61,706

Designers conceptualize and create various aspects of games and often assist in programming. They may work on specific aspects of a game, such as mechanics, environments, or visual design.

Video Game Programmer

Annual Median Salary: $64,039

Programmers take responsibility for the technical aspects of games, creating complex codes and algorithms that dictate how games function, such as physics or player controls.