The interactive entertainment industry eclipses even Hollywood in terms of annual worth. Some economists estimate that video games are a $100 billion-per-year industry, and with consumer electronics more popular than ever, it's little wonder that increasing numbers of students are choosing to fill out college applications for schools offering programs in video game design and development. With many universities offering these programs, how do you find the best school for game design?
As with many industries, the video game business is all about connections. The degree programs offered by many colleges may be similar, but some schools have better track records at placing students in studios or having experienced industry professionals teach as guest lecturers.
In addition to successfully completing your degree, if you want to land a job at a major game development studio, you'll have to work hard on producing a professional-quality portfolio. Many studios base hiring decisions on the strength of a candidate's work, and with many graduates competing for jobs, making sure your work is top-notch is really important. You should also bear in mind that although you may be applying for entry-level or junior positions when you graduate, that doesn't mean your work should be anything less than production-quality. Junior artist position refer to the amount of experience a candidate has, not the quality of their portfolio.
According to the Princeton Review, the best school for game design in the U.S. is the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Other notable colleges mentioned in the rankings include the University of Utah, the DigiPen Institute of Technology in Washington State, Michigan State University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.
Before choosing which schools to fill out college applications for, ask yourself what aspect of video game production you want to work in. Do you want to be an artist or a programmer? Perhaps you're more interested in audio or user interface design. Identifying your interests and career goals can help you look at a school's curriculum objectively. If you want to become a video game programmer, enrolling at a college renowned for its art programs probably won't help you much.
A popular misconception about the video game industry is that people who work in this field do little else aside from play games all day. This couldn't be further from the truth. Professionals working in video game development work long hours, and production deadlines can be tough. If you want to succeed in this competitive field, be prepared to work very hard.
The interactive entertainment industry can be an exciting, challenging field. With planning and research, you can find the college for you and begin a career in this fast-paced industry.