Computer and Video Game Designers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

If you like to play video or computer games, you are already familiar with them. You will also need to learn a programming language (such as C++, Java, C#, Python, and Perl), and you’ll need a good working knowledge of the hardware platform for which you plan to develop your games (video, computer, online, etc.). In high school, learn as much as you can about computers: how they work, what kinds there are, how to program them, and any languages you can learn. You should also take physics, mathematics (algebra, linear algebra, trigonometry, calculus, discrete mathematics, and applied mathematics), chemistry, and computer science. Since designers are creative, take courses in art, literature, and music as well.

Postsecondary Training

Although strictly speaking you don't have to have a college degree to be a game designer, most companies are looking for creative people who also have a degree. Having one represents that you've been actively involved in intense, creative work; that you can work with others and follow through on assignments; and, of course, that you've learned what there is to know about programming, computer architecture (including input devices, processing devices, memory and storage devices, and output devices), and software engineering. Employers want to know that you've had some practical experience in design.

A growing number of schools offer courses or degrees in game design. Game Career Guide offers a list of game design and animation schools at its Web site,

Recommended college courses include programming (including assembly level), computer architecture, software engineering, computer graphics, data structures, algorithms, scripting and programming, 2-D and 3-D level design, communication networks, artificial intelligence (AI) and expert systems, character design, playtesting, interface systems, mathematics, physics, and a game design internship.

A few designers train for the field by completing apprenticeships that typically last from 12 weeks to a year. Others receive training in multimedia design and programming in the military. 

Other Education or Training

The International Game Developers Association offers webinars for new members on a variety of game-related topics, as well as workshops at industry events. Contact the association for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for video game designers.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

It will be useful to gain experience in high school and college designing basic video games. Take any game design classes that are offered and experiment with design software. Participate in internships at game companies to gain valuable experience.

One major requirement for game design is that you must love to play computer games. You need to continually keep up with technology, which changes fast. Although you might not always use them, you need to have a variety of skills, such as writing stories, programming, and designing sound effects. You should also have knowledge of scripting languages, especially Lua and Python.

You must also have vision and the ability to identify your players and anticipate their every move in your game. You'll also have to be able to communicate well with programmers, writers, artists, musicians, electronics engineers, production workers, and others.

You must have the endurance to see a project through from beginning to end and also be able to recognize when a design should be scrapped. You must be able to meet deadlines and work under pressure.