Game design is an all-encompassing discipline that involves creating storylines, developing characters, writing rules, and structuring gameplay. Game designers may work alone or with a team to produce original video games that are both visually and mentally stimulating. To enter this challenging, yet exciting career, most students receive formal training at the certificate or bachelor’s degree level. Those who already have an undergraduate degree in game design and want advanced training in the discipline may seek a master’s degree. At this degree level, students will learn specialized subjects and develop strong technical and leadership skills that directly translate to the workplace.
Why a Master’s Degree?
The online master’s degree in game design is typically the highest level of education completed by professional game designers. Although it is possible for game designers to find work with only a bachelor’s degree in game design, there are significant advantages to getting a graduate degree in this field. Not only do master’s degree holders possess an advanced understanding of designing video games, but they also exhibit higher-order thinking skills, such as problem solving, analysis, and creativity. This program prepares students to be technical experts and quality leaders.
Getting Into a Master’s Degree Program
Creativity, computer skills, and a love for video games are not the only things colleges look for in a prospective game design grad student. This technical graduate program also requires applicants to meet the following criteria:
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
- Desired score on the GRE or GMAT
- Minimum required GPA
- Successful completion of prerequisites or related coursework
Inside a Game Design Master’s Degree Program
The online game design master’s degree program can last anywhere from several months to two years, depending on your course load and pace. Students will take courses in a variety of topics, including video game design, prototyping, visual development, game art, character design, and 3D modeling. In addition to the major courses, some programs require students to take core electives or capstone courses.
Both online and traditional game design students are generally expected to complete a thesis or dissertation at the end of their program. Summative assessments are used to measure students’ understanding and growth, and they are primarily given online, unless otherwise stated by your instructor. Like most distance programs, online students can access their courses, lectures, assignments, and grades on a learning management systems provided by the school. Whether you take a few classes online or complete the entire game design program from a distance, online students are entitled to the same academic, financial, and career resources and services as traditional students.
What’s Next for Game Design Master’s Degree Holders?
Graduates of the game design program are qualified to work in numerous technical design careers. The most direct path for master’s degree holders is to become game designers who work in testing departments and game development studios. These graduates have a competitive advantage over their colleagues because they know the latest technology and trends in game design, and they have the technical skills to do many challenging tasks. According to PayScale.com, video game designers made an average annual salary of $54,262. Depending on your employer, location, education level, and experience, game designers can make an upwards of $100,000 or more. This lucrative job also has an optimistic job outlook, thanks to the growing consumer demand for more realistic video games and special effects.