How Becoming a Video Game Designer Works

Video Game Designer's Salary

Careers in video game design can play a good wage especially for those at the top. Here, Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo America, plays Wii against Cammie Dunaway, executive vide president.
© Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

Here's something you should consider when learning about how to become a video game designer. Video game design pays a good wage. But the salary depends on a variety of factors, including where you work, for whom you work and what type or level of designer you are.

For instance, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) lists four types of game designers, including basic game designers, lead designers, level designers and fiction/screen writers. Each plays a different role in the ultimate design of a video game, and each type pays accordingly.


IGDA reports entry level video game designers make between $50,000 and $80,000 annually, averaging $57,500. The highest reported salary was $200,000.

LearnDirect career advice puts the starting salary for video game artists and programmers at about $37,000 a year, while experienced designers and lead programmers and producers earn around $85,000. Companies also typically offer bonuses for project work, as well., a site that tracks animation news and provides links to animation education, also offers salary ranges for various game design positions. Three-D animators, for instance, make between $50,000 and $60,000 annually, while programmers with 3-D skills make up to $55,000. Lead game developers make $150,000 to $250,000 and project managers and producers with experience makes between $80,000 and $100,000. An executive producer makes up to $130,000.

Like other industries, pressure on wages ebbs and flows. When a new console is introduced, for instance, it may increase pressure on wages while companies rush to expand the number of game titles available for that system.

One thing that, so far, does not appear to impact wages is the state of the overall economy. A recent news report showed continued growth of video game sales despite a weak national economy [Fox News]. Even during tougher times, people like to play!

How are careers as video game designers different from a job as video game testers? Read on to find out.