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In order to become a video game designer, what courses would I take in college?

I really want to design my own video games as a career. I've already decided that that is what I want to do in the future. However, I do not know what courses I should take in college in order to become a successful video game designer. Any information would be useful. #career #video-games #college-majors

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Chip’s Answer

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I'm not entirely sure you should go to college to become a game designer. It's not a bad idea, it just might not be the best. I work as a Technical Animator on an upcoming MMO game, and I can say that college is not the only way into this industry.

Most companies are going to have tools that only they use, that are made by their employees, and colleges aren't going to be able to teach you that stuff. They'll be able to teach you the basics of level design, probably an editor or 2 like Unreal Editor, maybe a 3D modeling program like Maya, but they aren't going to be able to teach you about any of the proprietary tools that each individual company uses. However, if you are into games, have modded games at all, or just played them a lot, you probably already know what makes a good level in a game, and the editors/mod tools are available when you purchase games that use them. (Unreal at least comes with UT3, and an older version with UT2K4.)

Also, you need to decide what 'designing' your own games means to you. Are you going to design quests/missions, levels, props, etc? Each field is going to have it's own path of getting to the end result. If you want to design levels or quests for a game, then get really good at the Unreal Editor, Cryengine, Far Cry editor, etc. at making not only levels, but also objectives.

Lastly, you can get into the games industry just by getting your foot in the door with a job like Customer Service, Game Master, or Quality Assurance. Each of those fields requires little more than a passion for gaming, and some dedication. Plus, you won't be $100,000 in debt due to student loans. Each company is going to differ on how you are treated as one of those positions, but stick with it long enough and you'll end up just where you want to be without having to throw money into a college program. Hope this helps!

Thanks this was great help. I will look into the Unreal Editor and other engines. I'll also see what companies use certain engines. Jamal J.

Hi Chip! Thank you so much for the amazing advice you gave Jamal above! I had a few follow up questions I wanted to ask out of my own curiosity: 1. Could you talk a bit more about your own personal journey into the game design industry? What might you have done differently looking back, and what worked well for you? 2. What are some next steps that someone interested in game design can take right now to begin building their skills? Are there online courses available/free resources about the video game languages you mentioned? Thank you so much in advance! Best, David David Ohta COACH

I went to school and got a degree in Animation and Visual FX. It was super helpful in learning the software, getting my feet wet in kind of knowing what to expect, and networking with people already in the industry and about to be. It cost way too much though, and in hindsight didn't help at all for the first 5 years in the industry because the tools I was taught were not what was being used at the studio. I would have gotten a job as QA or CS and learned the software by watching videos on YouTube during lunch instead of going to school and spending thousands of dollars. YouTube has pretty much anything you could want for learning software. Other than that it's just meeting the right people or landing a low level spot at the right studio. Chip Michaels

Hi Chip, Thank you so much! That's super great advice. I feel like students my age often feel pressured to attend college because that's the traditional path to success, but your own experience shows that there are many ways to get the job of your dreams. -David David Ohta COACH

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Fortythieves’s Answer

I sort of agree with the answer above. I did go to school. Two of them actually. I currently hold a BFA in writing and directing and a BS in computer science. But when entering the field, despite my length of experience in creative fields I still ended up being in QA for a year before moving into design. The reality is, times seem to be changing and where you went to school is far less important than what you have done or worked on. Anyone can graduate, the reality is that it isn't really hard to find a degree. Just because you graduated doesn't mean that you are going to be a hard worker who meets his deadlines.

My mother was an educator for 32 years so it is hard for me to tell anyone not to go to school. But the truth is if you really have interest in getting into the industry you will need some experience working in one. And the best way to do that is to become a tester. But make it clear in the interview that you have interest in moving up in the company to a position in design. Some places may bock at that, others will see a motivated employee.

If you happen to land a QA position then do anything you can to go above and beyond. I spent my time, off the clock, tracking people down who were willing to show me how the companies tool sets work. That way when I went to make a case about getting moved over I was able to say to my bosses that it would take less time to promote me than it would to bring in someone new because I already new some of the design pipeline.

Hope that helps and good luck to all of you.

Thanks for the help. I wouldn't mind facing the reality of starting at the bottom of the company. I'll start looking into internships as soon as possible. I was also going to pursue the BA in computer science and maybe even a Master's if it is necessary. Once again thanks for the help. Jamal J.

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Nick’s Answer

I would definitely look into classes connected to computer programming. Almost every college will have a major connected to that. One of the biggest benefits is using their equipment to help hone your skills, so you do not have to invest as much in your own until you are ready to hit the job market

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Teran’s Answer

graphic designing