The first question to answer is what exactly does a games designer do, apart from dress in black? Well, the answer varies from job to job, but basically they have ideas for video games, and are able to work them out in a logical fashion, present these ideas clearly and concisely both verbally and on paper. To this end designers have to be able to at least give a thumb-nail graphical representation, or alternatively be able to produce mock-up screen shots, maple menu layouts, flowcharts and other graphical content.
Although as a designer it is unlikely that programming will be required, in order to be able to make the most of the technology it is increasingly necessary to know a reasonable amount about software and hardware platforms. Games designers work in teams, so teamwork and the ability to be able to both give and take constructive criticism is necessary, as well as a reasonable knowledge of the functions surrounding games production ??? sales, marketing, programming, artistic design, and legal and financial issues.
It is possible to get into games design without a good background, but it is incredibly difficult. There are many more wannabes than there are places, so the better qualified are much more likely to get a look in. There are some really good Games Design degrees available, which will give the knowledge and skills that are necessary to succeed in this competitive business.
Earnings are about the same as graphic designers, around $34,000 according to the US Department of Labor. Obviously if your ideas take off and you have negotiated the right deal it is possible to make much more money, but this only happens rarely.
Directory of Video Game Design Schools