Video Game Design Schools in California

In 2013, the Gartner research firm reported that video game sales will be more than $74 billion worldwide and will reach $112 billion in 2015. Much of this business will occur in California. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, California is the dominant location for the video game industry in the U.S. and probably the world. The industry is centered mainly in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Electronic Arts (EA), based in Redwood City, is the world’s game industry giant, with revenue topping $4 billion a year.

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Featured Schools:

Online Schools

Programs available:
  • See Areas of study Game Art & Design (BFA)
  • See Areas of study Graphic Design (AS)

Programs available:
  • See Areas of study Video Game Design

Occupations Available in the Video Game Industry

Video Game Designers
The video game designer is the visionary leader of a game’s development. In their heads lie the plot, the story, the characters and the action. They must communicate this vision to the design team, comprised of narrators, artists and animators. A video game designer can earn from $35,000 to more than $200,000 a year. At least a bachelor’s degree is necessary to enter this field.
Game programmers must have a bachelor’s degree in programming with a strong knowledge of C or C++, Perl, Assembly and Lua programming languages. There are more than a dozen different programming specialties needed on many games. Programmers can make an average of $77,000 on entering the field. Experienced programmers can make more than $125,000.

Video Game Narrators
Narrators use their talent for writing to produce all the language needs of the game. In the U.S., game narrators average a salary of $65,000 per year. Narrators often combine a bachelor’s degree in English or writing with a background in story boarding and graphics.

Video Game Artists and Animators
Artists and animators produce the artwork and motion animation for every game produced. Artistic skills range from pencil and paper to 3D software. Artists and animators can make $65,000 at an entry level.

One of the newest professions to contribute to game development, the psychologist works with the production team to scientifically test whether the game gives players excitement or anxiety, for example. A psychologist with a PhD will start between $70,000 and $80,000 a year.

Read the report “Work for Play, careers in video game development,” which was produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Video Game Education Available in California

University of Southern California, USC Cinematic Arts, Los Angeles, CA – University of Southern California, USC Cinematic Arts located in Los Angeles, CA offers the #1 rated games program in the country. There are only 15-20 spots available for undergraduate school and 15 graduate slots each year.
Annual tuition is $40,000 for undergraduates and $23,000 for graduates.

University of California at Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA – University of California at Santa Cruz located in Santa Cruz, CA offers Bachelor of Science in Computer Science: Computer Game Design. It’s an undergraduate degree program focused on the construction and design of interactive computer games.
A California undergraduate will pay $13,416 per year.

City College of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA – City College of San Francisco located in San Francisco, CA offers Game Development Certificate that builds on the Digital Art Foundation certificate for students interested in game development.
The in-state tuition is $36.00 per unit.

Academy of Art University, San Francisco, CA – Academy of Art University, San Francisco, CA has a School of Game Design which offers bachelor’s and master’s degree in Game Design. The Video Game Design School is one of the top video game design schools in the nation.
Undergraduate tuition is $785 per unit and $885 per unit for graduate students.

There are online degrees available from private, for-profit schools such as Full Sail, The Art Institutes, International School of Design & Technology and others.



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