[Introduction] As the ninth largest field in the arts, video games have already become one of the most profitable industries in the world. Not only does the scale of the game industry continue to grow in China, but also internationally. Canada is one of the leaders of the development of the international video game industry. We believe that students who love games will be interested in the Canadian game design major. So which schools offer this major in Canada? What are the professional skills needed? What are the employment prospects and salary of graduates of this major? How do netizens and UtoCanada view this major? Let’s take a look!

What are the employment prospects of Canadian game design programs? Is it easy to find work?

Introduction to the Canadian Game Design Major

Game development is an industry that grows by $3 billion annually in Canada. Canada has many video game companies and game development studios that lead the world market, such as Ubisoft Montreal, Bioware, Behaviour Interactive, Beenox, etc. According to statistics, there are about 472 active studios in Canada, employing about 21,000 people full-time. Many companies are based in Toronto.
Game design majors in Canada are generally offered in universities, colleges or community colleges, offering different courses for programs in the undergraduate, college and graduate level. Canadian colleges offer different courses and encourage students to conduct in-depth professional learning.At the same time, they also provide paid internship opportunities for to give students the opportunity to gain work experience while studying. In short, the skills students need to learn include:

    • Game Design and Mechanics
    • Level Design
    • Programming and Technology
    • Game Narrative and Audio
    • 2D and3DArt and Animation
  • Game Development and Project Management

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What knowledge and skills do students learn in the Canadian game design major?

According to the different areas of focus of different colleges, the content of students’ learning varies.Colleges provides students with professional skills andmanagement expertise.At the same time, students can participate in industry-based field internships, which will prepare them for a career in the game industry.

The courses that students will be exposed to include game design and development basics, 2D and 3D animation, character design, script writing, game programming, mobile game development, and more. Throughout the courses, colleges allow students to participate in internship positions in companies, improve skills and knowledge through practical experience, and prepare them for industry needs. In addition, students will have the opportunity to learn to develop video games in the simulated environment of game studios, or collaborate with industry partners, game artists and programmers.

Students not only learn about game programming, engines, platforms, and various design and production paradigms, but also gain a broader understanding of this complex field. At the same time, the core issues surrounding the games will be studied, such as the game's creative and cultural background, game history, proxies, narratives, etc.

Employment prospects for Canadian game design graduates

In 2017, the global game industry scale was divided by different platforms. The mobile game market size was370 billionRMB; the PC game market size was206.4 billionRMB; the console game market size was51.9 billionRMB, of which China’s game industry reached2189.6billion RMB. It is worth noting that there are about 472 active game studios in Canada that employ about 21,000 people full-time. Many companies are based in Toronto. 77% of Canadian video game companies hire new graduates every year to join their innovation and creativity teams.

Canada brings together some of the most famous brands in the video game industry. Companies such as Activision, Disney, Electronic Arts (EA)Eidos, Koei, Microsoft Games, THQ, and Ubisoft have all set up branches in Canada for good reasons.Canada has more than 500 enterprises throughout the entire game industry chain. The scope of the industry chain includes hardware, development tools and technologies, support services,development, and publishing. In 2008, the total number of employees of about 260 game development companies reached 14,000, and sales revenue exceeded C$2.2 billion. Canada attracts a large number of computer game professionals with its high-quality life and industrial preferentialmeasures; the computer game industry plays a vital role in the Canadian industrial development chain. Due to the scarcity of professional talent and the continuous development of related industries,there will be tremendous potentialfor development and growth in the computer game industry for a long time to come.

This is a dynamic and evolving industry. If you are passionate about game design and development and want to transform your enthusiasm into a rewarding profession, this major will bring you on a path towards transforming your interests into practical skills.Graduates can continue to work in the fields of games and digital media, or occupations in independent game design and management. For example:

    • Game/level/system designer
    • Mobile app developer
    • Game user experience designer
    • Interface designer
    • Application designer
    • Education/Training Game Designer
    • Game developer
    • Game critic
    • Game system designer
    • Game writer
    • Gamified developer
    • Independent game developer
    • Simulation and experiential learning application designer
  • technical director
  • Animator
  • Concept artist
  • Art director
  • Game marketer

》Job description of the console game designer

According to the PayScale description,
Console game designers usually work on coding on various platforms, such as computers and gaming systems, to create games. Creating a game involves creating concepts and storylines. Designers need to communicate their ideas their team so they can develop and execute the ideas together. Designers often use flowcharts when creating game storyboards, and must also thoroughly test the game to ensure that any errors or bugs in the game are resolved. Each video game designer may focus on a specific element of gameplay, such as the environment or the game rules, to coordinate the work of the design team. Throughout the development process, these professionals must check the coding to make adjustments and fixes during the test, or they can test the game themselves, recording any identified errors or defects in the process.
Although technically, you do not need a high educational background to become a video game designer, but many companies prefer graduates with a bachelor’s degree in computer science or computer engineering in addition to the game design and development major, and will also give priority to graduates with internship experience. Video game designers must have excellent programming and system design skills, be able to work effectively in a team, and have the ability to meet deadlines.
Specifically, the responsibilities of a game designer include:

  • Conceptualize, present, implement, adjust and publicize designs
  • Assist in designing user interface screens, supporting screens and game levels
  • Conceptualize and implement game mechanics: animation, characters, narrative, AI, text and audio, etc.

》Salaries for game design graduates: The decisive factor for salaries & how much money they earn each year

According to PayScale statistics, the average annual salary of a console game designer is $51,308 CAD in Canada, the lower-end annual salary is at $34,955, and the higher is at $80,238.

The best schools in Canada for game design

Sheridan College

Sheridan College is a very well-known art school in Canada. The most famous is its animation major and the other arts and design majors. Known as the "Harvard” for the animation major, it was the absolute first in the industry, followed by their Information technology major. Sheridan's game design major has become more and more dynamic in the industry in recent years, and has won many awards. As a world-renowned leader in digital media and animation, Sheridan has a unique advantage in educating the next generation of game designers. The professional knowledge, technical skills and industry experience taught in the major provide students with an unparalleled career foundation in the game design industry. The college offersa four-year undergraduate degreein game design.

Toronto Film School

The Toronto Film School was founded in 2001 and belongs to the RCC Institute of Technology of Yorkville University. The college has long been famous in the North American film and television industry. Many graduates have become leaders in the entertainment industry. After joining the RCC Institute of Technology, the Toronto Film School has enriched the professional settings of the school, not only in video game design and animation production, but also in video game design and development. The Toronto Film Academy’s video game design and development program allows students to master a variety of skills, stay competitive in the evolving video game industry, and gain a rewarding professional career.

Wilfrid Laurier University

Laurier University is a famous 100-year-old school in Canada. It is located in Waterloo, known as "Silicon Valley of Canada." The school has a Brantford Games Network research lab (BGNLab) that hires students of this major join their teams to make games. These partnerships provide students with paid internship opportunities, allowing them to gain experience and game design credits before leaving school. Every semester, BGNLab students have abundant internship opportunities, and are encouraged to apply to join the teams. Graduates will be able to communicate well with various game industry personnel and understand the unique contributions made by programmers, designers, game writers, etc.

Brock University

The GAME program is a collaborative partnership between Brook University and Niagara College, which aims to combine the study of the Brock Integrated Arts and Sciences (IASC) and Computer Science (COSC) courses while allowing students to the Game Development (BTGD) program at Niagara College. The program allows students to obtain a bachelor's degree and an advanced diploma in game development within just four years. Students will experience various concepts, creativity and practical frameworks where computer games are located. You will be able to make critical, procedural and technical assessments of game expressions and their context. During the study period, students will be trained in professional knowledge and practical skills, such as game art, design and/or programming, and one-on-one guidance from academic and industry experts.

Conestoga College

Founded in 1967, Conestoga College is located in Waterloo, Ontario, just an hour’s drive from downtown Toronto. The Waterloo region is Canada’s famous technology hub, known as the “Silicon Valley of Canada.” It is a hub of intelligence, education, and innovation. Many high-tech enterprises have been established here, including Google; Canadian application software development company, D2L; and the original BlackBerry and other company headquarters. The college’s game design major offers a two-year advanced college diploma, designed to provide students with a range of powerful skills and knowledge that lead them to a game design career as a level designer, environment artist, character developer, or they can choose to seek higher education related to game art or development.

Humber College

Humber College, established in 1967, is one of the largest public colleges in Canada. It is Canada's most distinctive, creative, outstanding, and oldest polytechnic college. It is located west of Toronto, Ontario. Its excellent academic atmosphere has made Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning a good reputation in Ontario. Humber College has set up an advanced diploma program in game programming. Students in this program have cooperated with many famous video game companies in Canada (Ubisoft, BioWare, etc.) Students not only accumulate experience by analyzing existing games, but also have the opportunity to pursue enterprise internship positions.

George Brown College

George Brown College offers a one-year graduate diploma program, focusing on the principles and techniques of video game design and production required by the industry. The college focuses on cultivating students' management production and design capabilities, and is taught by professors in the local game industry with industry experience. Students will learn how to design and develop not only for the entertainment industry, but also for health, education, architecture, marketing and applications in other fields. Students will have the opportunity to learn and develop commercial games in a simulated game studio environment and collaborate with industry partners, game artists, and programmers.

Fanshawe College

Fanshawe College is located in London, Ontario in Canada. As a dynamic and growing industry centre, local professionals including game designers, animators, producers and art directors provide guidance to students through guest lectures. The college offers a three-year advanced diploma in game design, focusing on the tools and techniques needed to obtain employment in the video game industry. The goal of the program is to provide students with the professional knowledge and artistic skills needed to create compelling and innovative games. The school has a strong faculty, with approximately 1,700 faculty members, and many excellent professors have experience in studying and teaching overseas.
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Summary: UtoCanada's views on the game design major

Video games are considered the "Ninth Art" and has become one of the main forms of artistic expression in the 21st century. With the development of science and technology, the gaming platform is not only just on consoles, but also in smartphones, VR and other devices. This is a dynamic and growing industry. If you are passionate about game design and development, and want to transform your creativity into a demanding and rewarding profession, this major will provide you with the skills to turn your dreams into reality. Although most people only think of casual entertainment games when they think of this field, the scope of the game world goes far beyond small screens. For example, board games and interactive games allow people to communicate face-to-face, and educational games are widely used in schools and institutions (such as corporate training, healthcare, museums, and libraries). Gamification and game design technologies encourage people to communicate with the real world through gaming.

The North American game industry, represented by Canada, pays more attention to conveying the personal ideas and concepts of their designers and developers. This is why many colleges have higher expectations for student portfolios. After entering the school, students not only learn the basic skills of programming and design, but also study the courses of psychology, anatomy, story creation, screenwriting, etc. to explore different game directions. During your studies, you can also meet and learn from many industry experts, which is beneficial to your future career development and learning.