Do you spend your free time playing Madden NFL, Gods of War or Mass Effect? Do you have all the latest technology to make your gaming experience complete? Do you sit at home, playing these games, thinking about how you could make the game better or more user-friendly? If you answered yes to these questions, the time is ripe for a career in video gaming.

Some states, including Michigan and Massachusetts, are passing legislation to support video gaming and interactive digital media, giving companies tax credits to employ more staff and take on new projects. Many universities, such as Full Sail University, have programs solely dedicated to preparing you for a video gaming career. Additionally, scholarships, such as the Randy Paush Scholarship Fund, are emerging giving those interested in this field an opportunity to finance that education with some free money.

A gamers dream

Imagine you get up every morning and head to work. Your job—designing a new game for mobile and tablet, interactive Web and Wii console: The Ben Hogan Golf Game. That’s what video game designers at Pixofactor in Michigan are working on right now for a 2011 release date. This game is based on the golf legend Ben Hogan’s classic book: “Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf.”

The video game designers at Pixofactor searched for professional golfers who could demonstrate the swing. According to CEO Sean Hurwitz, “We had casting for a month and a half to find the swing most similar to Ben Hogan’s. We found one in Florida, one in California, both professional golfers, out of hundreds of applicants.” Then, they shot these two professional golfers in special motion capture suits for four days. During the shoot they shot everything imaginable in the game of golf from swatting a fly to breaking a club over their knee to admiring a new golf shirt. To give you just a little idea of how this was done, click here to see a video of the shooting.

Now that the motion capture is in the computer, Pixofactor game creators will spend 30 to 45 days cleaning up the data. Then, designers will put their avatar of Ben Hogan over the top of the motion capture data and make him come alive. This is just one of the exciting opportunities available as a video game designer.

A career for the future

With a video gaming program of study, you learn in a real world production environment, working with a team of student programmers and artists to develop a playable video game from start to finish, graduating with a game that you develop.

Video games have become big business, bringing in over $50 billion a year. This industry has outgrown many other industries in a very short period of time, partly because video games are no longer looked upon as kids-only entertainment. Video outlets are filled with 20-30 year olds checking out the latest versions of video games in multi-platform outlets. With the releases of the Xbox 360, the PS3 and the Nintendo Wii, producing games will require specific training and an expertise in the complicated task of game production. Video game designer teams producing these games are in high demand to meet the needs of a next-generation experience. This is a time when opportunities abound with gaming companies and studios.

Do you have what it takes to be a game designer?

Do you love video games? Companies want to hire someone who knows what makes a game good, and what makes a game bad. They want someone who knows good level design vs. poor level design. The only way to do this is by playing, and playing AND playing video games over and over again. Demonstrating a passion for the games is a prerequisite to landing a job in this field.

Do you have good problem solving skills? Bugs and potential problems often arise during the design process. You need to know how to find solutions to these problems quickly and successfully. Video game designers often spend hours working on a specific aspect of the game. If you don’t have the tenacity to stay focused, this is not the career for you.

Can you perform in crunch situations? The gaming industry works at a vicious pace. Yes, you need to be patient, but you need to be exact and efficient. There is no room for procrastinators in this industry.

Finally, do you have the training? You can’t just walk into a game studio with your gaming expertise and expect to get a job working as a game designer. Get the specific training and hands-on experience offered at the colleges and universities that offer this type of training: DeVry University, Full Sail University, and The Art Institute, are just a few of them. You can also find Bachelor degree programs in video design and development at many colleges across the country.

Have you ever thought about designing a video game? What type of game would it be? Who would be your target audience?

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