Career outlook for game designer

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

£44,720

Currently employed in Scotland

26,100

Average UK salary

£44,720

Currently employed in Scotland

26,100

"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

From FIFA to Fortnite or Minecraft to Mario, video games have gone from being just a hobby to a way of life for people of all ages. No longer reserved for the latest games console, you can now play games anywhere: on computers, consoles, the internet, or mobile phones.

As a games designer you’d create ideas, characters and stories or work on animations. You might come up with your own ideas or work from an existing concept, like a game based on a film.

Games can take months, or even years, to produce and you’d get involved with many stages of development before a game is finally released.

You’d work as part of a team alongside developers, programmers, animators and quality assurance testers and you’d all work together to make sure the game is produced on time and within budget.

You could also work freelance or become an ‘Indie’ or independent games developer.  These aren’t easy options and would rely on experience and networking.  

What you might do:

  • Plan and develop different elements of a game, such as levels, characters and plots

  • Decide what a game will look like

  • Design storyboards and write scripts

  • Creating the code to make the game work

  • Present and sell your ideas to the rest of the team

  • Work with quality assurance (QA) testers to fix any bugs

  • Work collaboratively with developers, artists and programmers to build a game prototype

  • Develop and write the rules of the game

Working conditions

Hours

You'll generally work between 30 and 40 hours per week. You might need to work overtime at weekends and evenings to meet deadlines.

Environment

You’ll spend most of your time working at a computer, usually in a studio. You’ll work in a team including artists, programmers, developers and testers.

UK employment status

Full-time

87%

Part-time

4%

Self employed

9%

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Cooperating
  • Verbal communication
  • Working with technology
  • Written communication
  • Creative
  • Designing
  • Innovative
  • Problem solving
  • Attention to detail

Skills Explorer

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at What are my skills?

Our Skills Explorer tool will help you understand what skills you have and match them to jobs that might suit you.

Use the Skills Explorer tool

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.

Qualifications

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need. 

There are a number of ways to get qualified for this job, via college / university study or through work-based qualifications, such as apprenticeships.
Game designers will often have a degree in the following subjects:

  • computer games art
  • computer games design
  • computer games development
  • computer games technology
  • computer science
  • interactive media 

Others often get into this role through routes such as quality assurance (QA) testing roles, 3D modelling or programming which all provide experience of how a game is made.

Employers will consider people without a HND or degree if they can demonstrate awareness of games and industry trends across all gaming platforms and experience of playing and making games, as well as the technology involved and any limitations and abilities of different platforms.  

For creative roles in this industry, it is helpful to have a portfolio detailing your skills and experience through any work or projects you have done in order to show off your skills and creativity – include your best work and keep it up to date.

As technology is ever changing, it is necessary to keep up with these advances throughout your career.

Useful subjects

Many colleges and universities will have subjects that you must have for entry.  In addition, they may also highlight additional subjects that they would value. See individual institutions websites for specific entry information. 

Useful subjects would be:

  • Art and design
  • Graphic design
  • Computer science
  • Maths focussed subjects

Helpful to have

While not all employers list specific qualification requirements they do ask for relevant experience, usually work based, that demonstrates a range of transferable skills.