What will a ID major give me..

…if my ultimate goal isn’t to be an industrial designer? My main interest is video game design, but I love to design pretty much everything. That industry doesn’t require a specific degree, but I’m trying to find something that’s affordable and enjoyable, and perhaps provides a backup plan for other careers if that industry isn’t for me.

Thus I’m looking for a college major that will maybe give me some design experience. So I’m wondering what:

a) I’ll get out of an ID degree that isn’t specifically related to the ID industry.
b) How much of the curriculum is based on ID industry specifics, and how much is based on concepts of design in general?
c) Other thoughts on what exactly I’ll learn as a ID undergrad.


Interesting question. I would imagine that VG design uses a lot of Industrial Designers for the Cars, weapons, tools, costumes, etc.

That industry is about the creativity. The process and honing of skills for ID could only help that, no?

Where you would fall behind the other’s would be in the rigging and animation side of things. But you could taylor your degree for that. Take electives and summer classes in VG and CG. Heck, do it as a “masters”. I know that Vancouver Film School is a 2 year course (if I remember correctly).

What you might want to look more into is a digital design degree, i know here at UC there are various fields that you can explore in the DD program such as animation, interaction and a couple others. I’m pretty sure someone in DD has co-op’ed at Lucasfilms and worked on some pretty sweet projects.

But there are a lot of people going in as industrial designers and taking over the role so to speak of DD, one guy came and talked to the entire school of design last year who has a degree in ID and works on animations for tv commercials and such. Plus we do have one guy who is currently co-op’ing at ArenaNET (they made City of Heroes/Villian, Tabula Rasa and Guild Wars) but he is only working as a concept artist.

If possible though you could try to find a school in which you could double major or major and minor and you would really be set because both industries are on the rise.

scott robertson, feng zhu and others were trained in ID and migrated/worked in concept design for films and games.

ID can be pretty broad in its application, its up to the individual to push the specific field they are interested in.

a) Getting into the ID field/major is usually something that is done because the person has the artistic background or the creativity and drive to want to create/problem solve… have all that plus some and your off to a great start.

I do think that the curriculum that makes up ID gives you a great background on life in general. Maybe that sounds to fluffy, but i really think you will leave (if you are a sponge) with a great base for being able to analyze a problem and hopefully create and execute a great solution. I am not saying this in terms of a cell phone design or VG character, but more as it pertains to life in general and behaviors etc. I think the designer has (or should) an open mind and has the ability to put their own initial thoughts aside to better understand the task at hand. IMO these few key skills along with so much more that i dont have the time to list, will benefit you no matter where you end up in life.

b) the first year or two are geared towards design in general terms. From my personal experience we weren’t out designing products until we had a solid foundation and understanding of what design is an what it means. A core understanding of how you may understand or address a design challenge and what you need to know in order to process it and then address the challenge.

c) im sick of typing already and i think you get the idea of what im trying to say…

It’ll give you some basic skill sets and a glimpse into the process. It is a primer for working in the profession. I think it is tough to break in with absolutely no prior training especially since you will be competing with the scores of young eager design grads with killer skills. Some firms need you to be able to hit the ground running and don’t have time to hand hold you through the basics. I think getting at least a bachelor’s in ID is a good idea. Grad school is good if you are considering teaching but mostly if you’re great you’ll get picked up after your undergrad degree and begin to build a portfolio that will lead you to bigger and better opportunities. Degrees aren’t important but what you can do is. School just gives you some starting point.

his/her soul (???)

Not sure exactly what part of game design you are most interested in, but if you are thinking concept design (figuring out what the cars, weapons,characters look like) then take a really hard look at your skill set. You need to be able to completely destroy in Photoshop. Hit up conceptart.org to see where you need to be, and unlike most industrial design, if your renders aren’t completely killer no one wants to see them.

My daughter is currently majoring in Digital Design. The applications and skills are very different from that of industrial design. First, you need to REALLY know a wide array of computer applications such as C ++, Maya, Flash ( action script I, II. and III), sound editing software, all of Adopbe software and a lot of other applications. You REALLY need to be computer saavy and have a willingness to learn new sofware all the time. In effect, you not only need strong design skills and graphic design training,but you should have strong computer skills and even coding ( programming) skills.

My daughter has a real sweet coop with a firm that does web sites for movies and studios. She had to learn Action Script III by herself within a week.

If you are going into animation, you not only need to know Maya and Houdini cold but you better be quite good at showing expression on characters. You also need to thoroughly understand shading, polygon modeling, texture modeling, lighting, character kinematics, animation, environmmental design etc. Game design has even more coding than normal animation. A good digital design is basically a computer “geek” who also has strong design skills.

My point is that there are a large number of different skills required of a digitial designer than what you would see in a traditional ID program. Yes, you can transition to DD,but it isn’t as easy as this thread seems to make folks believe.

So what if someone asked this…

I’m in my senior year of ID and I think I want to transition to Brain Surgery, does anyone think IDers would make good surgeons? I mean you probably need to pay attention to detail, and work long hours in school. Both also require working with your hands. So someone go out and find one or two examples of designers going on to be awesome surgeons.

y point is that there are a large number of different skills required of a digitial designer than what you would see in a traditional ID program. Yes, you can transition to DD,but it isn’t as easy as this thread seems to make folks believe.

I’ll agree with you that breaking into the DD/ED field (congrats to your daughter!) is not easy…

But giving yourself a broad base by attending a traditional ID program will teach many of the core skills that are required whether designing cars, clothes, power tools or characters/props/sets. Learning how to communicate visually(drawing, sculpting, modeling, rendering), learning how to learn software (not learning an array of specific packages, which you really don’t need school for), making connections and learning how to survive in a critique all the while selling your design to a group of peers is what school is all about.

You will need to find a program that allows you to be semi-independent study (when the class is designing toasters, you design robot-toaster from outer space). At the same time, you won’t get the benefit of being in a group of like-minded entertainment-designers, which could also be a good thing…

The bonus, though, is if the videogame design thing doesn’t work out, or in five years you become enthralled with yachts, you can design those instead.

I was introduced to ID by someone in the video game industry. They were outstanding at car modelling because they had a degree in transportation design and quickly learned Maya from being heavily trained in Alias. He’s now art director at a studio he helped found.

It’s great your daughter knows all those applications - but I can tell you that in todays video game/animation field knowing all those programs and using them in real life isn’t the case unless you work as a generalist (jack of all trades but not great at any one area) and most people don’t want to hire those people. They want people that are OUTSTANDING and highly focused in specific areas. They don’t care that you know actionscript if they want you to be doing work in Zbrush and Maya.

With that said SOFTWARE can be self taught. I taught myself just about every web language and technology known to man, 3DS Max, Maya, Alias Studio, Maxwell, Mental Ray, Rhino, Solidworks, and Pro E and most of those apps I taught myself before I even went to college.

My point? Every 16 year old out there with internet access and a lot of spare time can learn the software and crank out super pretty images. The field is full of people with no formal training but AWESOME demo reels because they’ve spent 6 years perfecting them. If you were really serious about that I’d say get an art degree or skip college altogether and spend the next 4 years learning all the needed tools.

To the original poster: If you think you know what you REALLY want to do when you’re 18 - you’re probably going to change your mind. I went from wanting to do auto design, to 3D animation, and then landed in product.

ID is about solving problems - not just making things look sweet. The education you recieve reflects that.

Cyberdemon notes,“ID is about solving problems - not just making things look sweet. The education you recieve reflects that”

Response: The same can be said about digital design, interior design, architecture etc. They are ALL about solving problems. The key is that they deal with different problems in their curriculum. A digital design student might deal with problems of advertising a movie or company through the web site. They might deal with presenting a cute character who looks "miffed.
An interior designer would have to deal with the client’s goals and limitations such as budgets, staff numbers etc.

All design fields are about solving problems or learning to meet the goals of the client.

By that definition you could say that being a plumber is about solving problems too.

Industrial design education teaches solving _users_problems through research, testing, and validation. When was the last time an interior design student spent weeks studying how users use a cabinet? Digital design would apply if you’re talking about interaction design. But making a cute animation has zero relevance to what a user needs.

That aspect of ID education is what differentiates us from all of the fields you’ve mentioned above.

i have studied to go into the video game/ entertainment industry and let my tell you its much easier to transition from that to ID then ID to videgames ect…

if you want to work in the videogame field they want Mechanics. You will be a pixel mechanic. Most of the time for big name studios you are going to get a sheet with someone else drawing on it and your going to have to model it. Or your going to get a model that someone else modeled and you are going to have to rig it. ( soooo many more positions im just going really basic)

I really didnt like that aspect. I wanted to be able to use my creativity to answer a problem. I just didnt want to be a pair of hands.

If you want to use your creativity in videogames/ent you should look into concepting ( no 3d) or producing.

And ill tell you most companies really look down on not having a 4 year degree. and they do not particularly like the “trade” schools ( fullsail, dave school ect…) remember its not all about what you learn in school its just getting through it. In fact most top studios wont even look at stuff if you dont have a degree.

Coding is a big part of both fields and should be learned, (c++ MEL or python) is a good start

theres alot more, but my brain is a tad mushy today.