The number of people playing video games is growing every year. With an increase of about 200 million gamers by 2027, that’s roughly a 15% jump, we’re looking at a whopping 1.47 billion gamers worldwide in the next three years. 

Not everyone in the gaming industry needs to be a programmer. Game designers and developers (programmers) play different roles. Top-tier companies often prefer specialists over generalists, so choose your specialization wisely. Or better—get a mix of both with specializations or electives to bulletproof your career. 

Making it in the video game industry isn’t just about having the right skills, but also a bit of good old-fashioned luck, which can be boosted through networking. Networking is a major perk of earning a game design degree. 

Studying game design can lead to becoming a video game designer, apart from other opportunities. The academic environment fosters connections with like-minded peers, industry professionals, and experienced faculty.

Also, the gaming industry is highly competitive, valuing demonstrated skill as much as, if not more than, formal education. This is where a robust portfolio becomes crucial. A game design degree often includes working on pilot projects under expert supervision—putting you miles ahead of your competition.

Here are some degree options to pursue:

Most Popular Degree Options for Game Design:

You’ve got a couple of paths to consider when choosing to pursue a game design degree. The first one is all about design—perfect if you’re gunning for a career in game design. The second one is more tech-focused, which is your ticket to a career in game development.

But there’s also a third option. This one lets you major in your strong suit, while picking up some electives to get you ready for a range of roles–including both design and dev—in the gaming world. Let’s take a closer look at these degree choices and electives:

Liberal Arts:

An arts degree is ideal for students who are interested in the creative aspects of game design, such as storytelling, character development, and visual design.

Degrees Offered:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Game Design
  • Bachelor of Arts in Games & Game Design
  • Bachelor of Arts in Game Design & Interactive Media

Core Courses:

  • Visual Storytelling
  • Game Studies
  • Narrative Design
  • Environment Design
  • Graphics & Effects


  • 3D Modeling, Animation, and Rigging
  • Storyboarding
  • Computer Programming
  • RPG Design
  • Interactive Digital Media
  • User Experience Design

Related: What Should I Major In? Most In-Demand Majors for 2024


A science degree is more technical and focused on the scientific and mathematical aspects of game design. This degree is suitable for students who are interested in the technical side of game design, such as programming, software development, and computer graphics.

Degrees Offered:

  • Bachelor of Science in Gaming & E-Sports Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Game Design and Development
  • Bachelor of Science in Game Studies & Design
  • Bachelor of Science in Game Art & Interactive Design
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology: Game Development
  • Bachelor of Science in Video Game Programming
  • Bachelor of Science in Game & Simulation Programming

Core Courses:

  • Software Design & Development 
  • Software Engineering
  • Game Design-Level & Interface
  • Mathematics
  • Interactive Media
  • 2D & 3D Animation and Asset Production
  • Web Applications


  • Game Prototyping
  • International Game Development
  • Maps & Geospatial Technologies
  • Foundations of Game Engines & Graphics
  • AI for Game Environments

Let’s see how designers and developers in the gaming industry differ in their roles and responsibilities. Here you go:

Game Designer (Special Effects Artists and Animators)Game Developer (Applications Software Developers)
What do they doGame designers are the architects of the gaming world. They sketch out the game’s blueprint, which includes the storyline, rules, characters, and the overall experience for players.Game developers are the builders who bring the designer’s blueprint to life. They handle the technical side of things, like coding, graphics, and sound.
Who is it forThose with strong creative, problem-solving, and visual skills.Those with an appetite to learn the computer science principles and programming languages.
Degrees to pursueBachelor of Science in Gaming & E-Sports ManagementBachelor of Arts in Game DesignBachelor of Science in Game Art and Interactive DesignBachelor of Science in Information Technology: Game DevelopmentBachelor of Science in Video Game ProgrammingBachelor of Science in Game & Simulation Programming
Roles to targetLevel DesignerNarrative DesignerArtist/Illustrator (requires prior skills in sketching or sculpting, and painting)AnimatorGame ProgrammerSystem DesignerQA Tester (Gaming)
Average salary$98,950$127,260
Job outlookAccording to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 9,400 openings are projected each year for special effects artists and animators, on average, over the decade. Similarly, about 153,900 openings are projected by BLS each year for applications software developers, QA analysts and testers, on average, over the decade.  


A computer science degree can offer more opportunities in the software industry, especially for those who are passionate about coding and creating game logic. However, if you’re more inclined towards design, planning, and implementing features and gameplay, a game design degree could be your perfect match.

Related: Trending Careers for STEM Majors in 2024

To pursue a game design degree, you need to have a mix of technical and creative skills. Here are some of the essential skills you should consider:

  • Artistic Creativity: This is fundamental as it allows you to create unique and engaging game environments, characters, and storylines.
  • Technical Proficiency: Familiarity with game development software like Unity or Unreal Engine, and programming languages such as C++ or Python, is often required.
  • Mathematics: Knowledge of mathematics, particularly geometry and algebra, is important for game physics, graphics, and algorithms.
  • Problem-Solving Skills: Designing games is about creating an engaging and fun problem for players to solve. Being a good problem solver will help you in creating these experiences.
  • Storytelling: Good games often have compelling narratives. Skills in storytelling can help in crafting these engaging narratives.
  • Teamwork: Game design is usually a collaborative process. Being able to work well in a team, taking on feedback, and communicating your ideas clearly are crucial skills.

Related: 5 Strategies to Pick the Right College Based on Your Skill Set

Game development kicks off with the game designer, who’s in charge of cooking up the game’s initial concept. They’re the ones who lay down the rules of the game, craft the storyline, dream up the characters, and shape the game’s overall look and feel. 

The game designer’s role is super important because they set the stage for the whole game. Check out these gigs and their paychecks you could aim for with a degree in game design:

Level Designer

Average salary: $69,398 per year

A level designer is responsible for creating levels, challenges or missions for video games. They design the layout of a game’s environment and create the difficulty curve to challenge players.

Narrative Designer

Average salary: $75,197 per year

A narrative designer crafts the story and narrative elements of a game. They work on the plot, characters, dialogues, and the way the story interacts with the game mechanics.

Environment Artist

Average salary: $64,265 per year

An environment artist creates the visual elements of a game’s world. They design and model the game’s settings, landscapes, objects, buildings, and other environmental features.

With a game design degree, you’re not just limited to the gaming industry. You can chase after roles in other similar fields too, thanks to the courses you’ll be studying. Here’s what you can look forward to:

Film and Video Editors

Average salary: $62,420 per year

Film and video editors shape the final content—shot by camera operators—by arranging footage. They organize digital clips, collaborate with directors, and create compelling narratives using editing software. 

Graphic Designer

Average salary: $105,111 per year

A graphic designer crafts visual concepts to represent a brand’s identity. They collaborate with clients to understand their branding needs and create aesthetically pleasing designs that align with the client’s specifications. Their work spans various media, including online campaigns, print ads, websites, and videos.

Software Developer

Average salary: $78,090 per year

A software developer is responsible for designing, coding, and modifying software applications according to a client’s specifications. They also test the software to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.

Web Developer/Designer

Average salary: $80,730 per year

A web developer specializes in building and maintaining websites or web applications. They work on aspects such as website design and performance, and website functionality.

UX Designer

Average salary: $105,154 per year

A UX Designer, also known as a user experience developer, bridges the gap between design and technology. They are responsible for improving the user’s interaction with a software application (on a desktop or mobile) and making the user interface as intuitive as possible.

In conclusion, the versatility of a game design degree extends beyond the gaming industry. You could leverage your understanding of programming and systems design to create robust and efficient software solutions.

The skills you acquire while pursuing a game design degree are highly transferable. Critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity are just a few of the competencies that are highly valued in today’s job market. 

These skills, coupled with technical knowledge, make game design graduates attractive candidates for roles in web and software development, computer programming, digital design, and more.

How much do game designers make?

Game designers, with an average annual income of approximately $84,631, are the creative minds behind the immersive elements of a game. They’re in charge of dreaming up and crafting the game’s components, including the rules of play, the backdrop, the characters, and the plot. But their work isn’t just about creativity—they also work with technical tasks like coding, team management, and game testing.

Who hires game designers?

Game designers are typically hired by game development studios, entertainment companies, interactive media agencies, indie game studios, and freelance platforms.