You've spent countless hours immersed in your favorite computer or video game. The game's knockout graphics and realistic sound effects make you really appreciate the game designer's hard work. In fact, you might wonder if a game design career would be a smart career choice. With your top-notch computer skills, you're sure you can handle the challenge of creating story lines, characters and action sequences. Before you investigate this career further, it helps to get a picture of a game designer's working conditions.
If you're looking for a career with unpredictable work hours, you've probably come to the right place. In fact, you might want to keep an extra set of clothes on hand so you can freshen up after those deadline crunching all-nighters. Hard work does pay off, however, as Robin Hunicke proved in a “PC Magazine” 2011 profile piece. Hunicke snagged her first 15 minutes of fame as Design Lead for the MySims Wii game in 2007. Her success helped rocket her to an executive producer role at thatgamecompany.
At first glance, game designers seem to work in traditional office environments, with individual work stations and a central conference area. However, that's where the similarity ends. Game designers' computers are loaded with cutting-edge graphics programs that generate games' eye-popping visual effects. Sophisticated sound equipment can recreate virtually any existing sound or synthesize new ones designed to throw players out of their chairs. You might find the audio equipment contained in one central room but networked to all office computers.
You'll definitely get to polish your collaborative skills as a game designer. When you're ready to pitch a game concept to your fellow team members, for example, you'll likely congregate around a central work table. You might even kick back at a picnic table under the trees, tossing back a few sodas and noshing on snacks from the office fridge. Most importantly, you're part of a cohesive development team, willing to burn the midnight oil to create a top-notch game that leaves its players coming back for more.
Choosing a game design career means you'll avoid many well-known workplace hazards. You won't have to worry about back strain from moving heavy boxes. You also won't need to protect yourself from chemical hazards or equipment injuries. However, spending extended hours at your computer can result in eyestrain or other visual problems. Typing countless lines of game instructions, or manipulating endless graphics elements to achieve the right effect, can make you vulnerable to nasty wrist and hand ailments such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Finally, your marathon work sessions may take their toll on your back health. You might avoid this last problem if your employer springs for seated chair massages.
- United States Bureau of Labor Statistics: Working So Others Can Play: Jobs in Video Game Development
- PCMag.com: The Feminine Side of Game Design: 10 Female Game Designers
- Foothill College: How to Become a Video Game Designer
- U.S. News University Directory: Computer Programming in the 21st Century: Video Game Design Careers
Based in North Carolina, Felicia Greene has written professionally since 1986. Greene edited sailing-related newsletters and designed marketing programs for the New Bern, N.C. "Sun Journal" and New Bern Habitat ReStore. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Baltimore.