Occupations Available in the Gaming Industry
Video Game Designers
Game designers create the characters and story lines of the game as well as the prototypes and role-play mechanics. The average salary in the U.S. for a video game designer is around $80k. Entry-level jobs require a bachelor’s degree and experience gained through internships or other industry experience.
Video Game Programmers
A video game programmer is the software engineer for a project and is essential to any game’s production. There are more than 15 programming specialties that may be used on any one game, from physics programming to porting programming to artificial intelligence and graphics. An extensive education in C or C++, in addition to Java, Perl, Lua and Assembly Languages is required. Salary in 2010 ranged from $74,000 to $125,000, with an average of $95,300.
Video Game Narrators
Video game narrators are, first of all, writers and generally have degrees in writing or English. Narrators often start in the industry by writing video game articles, game reviews, interviews, and how-to guides. Ideally, narrators have experience with storyboard design and graphics. The U.S. average salary for narrators is about $65,000 per year.
Video Game Artists
Art brings the video game to life. The video game artist’s role can be as a concept artist, utilizing old-school pencils and paper. The UI artist, on the other hand, designs dynamic menus and HUD screens with high-end 3D programs like ZBrush or Autodesk Maya. According to Game Developer Magazine, animators and game artists earned an average of more than $70,000 per year in 2011.
Where to go to School in Michigan
- Full Sail University – Full Sail offers courses in Game Design and other related careers. With more than a decade of experience in the industry, Full Sail delivers a highly specialized education that blends the art, technology, and storytelling needed to create a successful game.
- DeVry University – DeVry University offers programming and design courses with a specialized degree in Multimedia Design and Development in Web Game Programming. Coursework includes Game Development, Interactive Web Page Scripting, Multiplayer Online Game Development, Programming Multimedia for the Web and more.
- Davenport University, College for Creative Studies –The College for Creative Studies at Davenport University in Detroit offers a Bachelor of Arts in Entertainment Arts with three concentrations: animation, game, and video. Out of the average of 134 students who graduate from video game design school in the state, 39 graduated from this school. This is the premier, largest school for video game designers and developers in Michigan. Notably, financial aid is utilized by 98 percent of the students.
- Eastern Michigan University – Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI has a School of Technology Studies that offers a Simulation, Animation, and Gaming (SAG) Major. This program is an interdisciplinary effort by its faculty and among several departments throughout the EMU campus. Students may study any of the disciplines necessary to learn modern game development. The program is the most advanced in Michigan and there is a simulation component not available at any other institution in Michigan.
- Ferris State University – Ferris State University in Grand Rapids, MI offers a B.A. degree in Digital Animation & Game Design. This is a multidisciplinary degree that covers 3D animation, programming, design, and business. The digital animation degree concentration offers education to assist in obtaining employment in the digital technology industry. Education in this program is offered to first year students who are in the early stages of learning in the field. The program is unique in that students are encouraged to enter the program as freshman while dually enrolled with Grand Rapids Community College.
- Lansing Community College – Lansing Community College offers a program for Applied Arts and Computer Graphics Animation. This program is designed to prepare the student for transfer to a four-year institution. Not all courses transfer, so students must see an adviser.
- Michigan State University – Offers a specialization in Game Design and Development. This program is also rated as one of the top 5 video game design programs in North America.
Places to Intern
- PixoFactor, located in Farmington Hills, was forged from Detroit’s expansive talent pool of innovative technical artists in 2009. This leading video game studio has the distinction being the first company to be approved for the video game development tax credit, under the State of Michigan. With the development of the IPad in 2010 the focus of the company was redirected toward mobile gaming, with such current titles as Blue Goji from the creator of Guitar Hero and many others. Notably, Pixo was awarded in 2012 a $51,300 incentive from the state to develop and produce Blue Goji Boxing, a mobile boxing game to be played on its newest gaming platform.
- Eyde Studios, based in East Lansing, has a contract with Adventure Club Games to develop the Freaky Deaky Flashback mobile video game. It is being developed in conjunction with graduates of Michigan State University. Eyde received $78,470 in film incentives from the state for the game’s development and is based on the movie Freaky Deaky, starring Christian Slater, which was filmed in the Detroit area in 2011.
- S2 Games has a development site in Kalamazoo. It was founded entrepreneur and game enthusiast Marc DeForest. A leader in the free-to-play MOBA genre, S2 Games is composed of experienced professionals from diverse backgrounds that includes game development, programming, animation, and more. The first project was Savage: The Battle for Newerth, released in 2003. The latest installment in the series was Heroes of Newerth.