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According to July 2014 figures from Indeed, the average game designer earns $87,000 a year. Getting paid that much to play and design video games may seem like a dream job, and the laid-back working environment can certainly make the job fun. But playing the same game thousands of times can get tedious, even when you love gaming. Before you choose this career, explore the working conditions for what it takes to iron out even the tiniest kinks in video games.
Freelancers vs. Employees
Some video game designers work as independent contractors who provide consulting and development services to businesses. They may also work to develop their own games and sell them to large companies. Contract video game designers use much of the same equipment as employees, but have more control over their working conditions and do not answer to a boss. They may work from home, out of a client's office or out of their own office. Employees, by contrast, tend to have more consistent working environments and less autonomy about where, when and how they work.
Office Work and Hours
Most video game designers who are employees instead of contractors work in office environments. They may work in cubicles or in their own offices. In most cases, game designers work 40 hours per week. When a new game is being released or the company otherwise needs extra work, game designers may work longer hours. Designers paid on a salary basis might not earn extra for extra work, but those paid on an hourly or contract basis can make significant overtime during busy periods.
Equipment and Tools
Video game designers work with computers on a daily basis, and they may also use other electronic equipment. You may use photo and video editing tools, sound equipment, video game consoles and music production equipment. Most likely, you will spend some portion of every day playing the video games that you and your colleagues design, testing for bugs and devising corrections. Depending upon the equipment you use, you may work in a loud environment filled with music, humming computers or clacking keyboards.
Game design projects are a collaborative effort. You may work with many other professionals, including other game designers, sound engineers, photographers, computer programmers and perhaps even musicians. You may have to consult with others to get approval for your designs, and you may also test your colleague's ideas. In most cases, you'll answer directly to a manager who delegates job duties according to experience and skill.
- Indeed: Game Designer Salary
- Tallahassee Community College: Video Game Designer
- Foothill College: How to Become a Video Game Designer
- Animation Career Review: Info On Working as a Video Game Designer in Chicago
- United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics: Working So Others Can Play -- Jobs in Video Game Development
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.