National Careers Week: Become a Computer Games Designer

In honour of National Careers Week 2018, we’re profiling some of the latest jobs from Careers 2018.

Kicking off is Computer Games Designer – download a PDF of this job profile here:

Computer Games Designer job profile

Qualifications and courses

Many employers will ask for a minimum of a degree and although entry into the industry is possible with an HND, many developers are graduates.

A portfolio of game projects or designs is also beneficial, although this is largely dependent on the kind of job you apply for; depending on either artistic or programming requirements.

Relevant industry experience is a must and many people work initially as a tester of quality assurance in a games studio. The Chartered Institute for IT (BCS) offers the Professional Certification in Software Testing at Foundation, Intermediate and Higher level for quality assurance testers, which may also help your application.

Useful degree subjects include computer games technology, computer arts or computer animation. The computer games industry is constantly developing, and as games grow closer to traditional cinema, developers may value knowledge of cinematography or a flair for storytelling. At least 2 A levels/3 H grades are required for entry to related degrees. A relevant postgraduate qualification may also prove advantageous in this increasingly competitive industry.

A funded route that may be on offer in your area is the Higher Apprenticeship in IT. This can lead on to a full Honours degree in addition to vocational, technical and Key Skills qualifications as well as much valued work experience. Apprenticeships in Quality Assurance and Games Design are also available. Training programmes are on offer for graduate entrants from any discipline.

What the work involves

Employers are specialised companies producing games for computers or games consoles such as the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One or PS4.

Using storyboards and flowcharts, you will present your ideas for a new computer game to a panel for acceptance or rejection. If it is accepted you will manage all aspects of the playing experience, from scripts to programming and from animation to sound effects and music.

You will work with a team of specialists, such as programmers and graphic artists, to produce a prototype. Once a computer games playtester has picked out any flaws and if the panel think it is a winner, it will go into full development by your team.

Type of person suited to this work

To be a top-class computer games designer you will need creativity and an ability to see how ideas fit together. You will also have a passion for and knowledge of the computer games market.

Your ideas need to be technically viable and cost effective, so you will need a broad understanding of computers and games consoles, multimedia and the internet.

You will need to be a team player to work with specialists such as graphic designers to make sure that their part of the project fits in with the final version of the game.

Working conditions

You will be mainly based in an office or studio working with other members of the games project team. Although you will work Monday to Friday, you might need to work overtime in the evenings and at weekends to meet deadlines.

Future prospects

The creation of the UK Games Fund has encouraged growth in the UK video games industry and also created funding opportunities for training development talent in games and other creative industries through the Skills Investment Fund.

It is a popular career choice, so entry is competitive. You will need talent and project/people management skills in order to be promoted from junior to designer and then to lead designer.

There may be opportunities to work abroad. Progression is possible into management or consultancy work.

Advantages/disadvantages

Games designers say it is enjoyable creating entertainment for a living and there is the opportunity to be creative.

It is a young, vibrant business and the rewards can be high.

It can be tough when a game does not sell or receives poor reviews.

It is stressful producing a game for a timed release such as the Christmas market.

Money guide

£19,000 to £25,000 per year is the usual starting/training salary for designers with prior industry experience.

For senior or lead designers this can then rise to between £30,000 and £50,000 with several years’ experience.

Those in management or leadership roles can go on to earn up to, or in excess of, £70,000.

Additional benefits usually include profit sharing and performance-related pay or a bonus.

Further information

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT

Learning and Performance Institute


 Find out more about a whole range of jobs in Careers 2018

 

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