Let's start with some good news that applies to experienced designers and wet-behind-the-ears college graduates alike: the video game industry pays its designers very well. Now we'll get to some specifics.
First, let's start with a Junior Designer position, where you will probably earn between $40K and $50K annually. If you make it to the vaunted Lead Designer ranks, your annual salary jumps to $60K to $70K. As a Creative Director, which could mean you have a corner office rather than a crowded cubicle, you'll rake in around $75K to over a hundred grand per year.
Before you start jumping up and down with glee, remember your final salary figure will be affected by several factors. You'll make more in a big city than a small town or rural area, simply because your metro area living costs will be higher. Also, a large, established business is likely to pay you more than a brand-new start-up firm.
Your previous design experience, especially your proven ability to deliver quality results on time, will definitely stack the deck in your favor. Working on a crazy successful game's design team will provide you with beaucoup de brownie points. Finally, a video game design or related degree will also increase your value to employers.
Of course, we can't forget the bennies and perks. First, you get to see new games before the makers release them to the general public. Mostly, you'll see your company's products, but you might happen upon another manufacturer's beta version from time to time. You might also receive conventional benefits such as savings plans, health club discounts, and other company-specific offerings.
However, we've saved the best for last. You might get a company-paid trip to a video game or electronics convention, such as the gargantuan E3 electronics confab. Yes, you'll probably have to work at your company's booth, and perhaps sit on a panel or two, but what a way to spend your workday!