If you think playing video games is a waste of time, think again. Besides being fun, there is a nice chunk of change to be made in designing the next big seller.

Demand for computer programmers is skyrocketing and with an average salary of $89,000, a lot of people are taking gaming much more seriously.

Barry Brown, professor of computer science at Sierra College in Rocklin, is helping to fulfill the need by offering courses that teach students the basics of game design.  It is one of 50 California schools offering game related degrees.

Brown says several of his former students have proven his classes are extremely valuable.  Robert Winkler started up his own video company called 5th Planet.  He has created games for social networking sites.  In fact, Winkler hired another of Brown’s former students to work as a programmer on one of his successful projects. 

Brown says employers are increasingly looking to hire workers with a four year degree and right now they cannot find enough of them.

According to the Washington D.C. based Entertainment Software Association, computer and video game software is a $12 billion dollar industry.  Forty-one percent of gaming jobs are located in California.  The number of people the industry employs grew 11.4 percent between 2005 and 2009.