Maxim has listed the the average game industry salary, courtesy of Game Developer Research. Let's have a look:
• Business and marketing: US$131,000+
• Producers: $US129,000
• Programmers: $US90,000
• Sound designers: $US80,000
• Artists and animators: $US70,000
• Game Designers: $US67,000
• Quality Assurance: $US32,000
Huh, the average game designer salary is lower than the average programmer salary. So there you go!
And while some programmers in the Japanese game industry might be living near the poverty line, many of their Western counterparts are doing just fine.