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So you wanna be a video game designer

by on September 21, 2019 | Top Stories, Career Guide

So you wanna be a video game designer -

The world of video games no longer belong to a specific group of enthusiasts. These days, kids learn how to play video games before they can read and you probably won’t be surprised to see your grandma rocking Candy Crush. The fastest growth in the gaming industry can be found in China, the US and Japan and the trends show that 2.3 billion gamers across the globe will spend USD137.9 billion on games in 2018. Is this an industry that excites you? Have you ever thought about being a video game designer?

The job of a video game designer

Before creating a video game, designers need a concept; they also need to take into consideration details such as target audience, requirements, deadlines, and budgets. When video game designers formulate the theme of a game and how it plays, it includes planning and defining all the elements of a game: its setting; structure; rules; story flow; characters; the objects, props, vehicles, and devices available to the characters; interface design; and modes of play. The next step is for the video game designer is to work with the development team who will create the art assets and computer code that allow the game to be played.

There are many types of video game designers each have a different focus in developing a game. Many designers will need to do the work of a tester, which allows them to experiment with coding and watch others’ mistakes firsthand. If you work as a lead designer, you will need to make important decisions and be in charge of the communication inside and outside of the design team. A game mechanics designer works on the balance of the game and its rule system. If you’re creative, artistic and good at spatial thinking, you could do the job of an environmental designer who is tasked with creating the different scenarios and environments of the game.

Is this job for you?

When you play a game, do you think of all the ways it could have been done better? Are you always up to date with the latest games in the market? Are you good at telling a story, creating its characters and imagining the scenes in which all these take place? Do you have a deep understanding of the capabilities and benefits of different hardware platforms (e.g. PC, console, mobile device, etc.), as well as familiarity with software technologies and techniques?

The interest code for this career is AE (Artistic and Enterprising).

Artistic — Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Work styles

To be successful in the role of a video game designer, you need to:

  • be interested in computers and electronics like circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming
  • be fluent in a number of software packages
  • understand the market and target audience for computer games
  • be creative, imaginative and original
  • enjoy working with forms, designs and patterns
  • be patient in making multiple adjustments to ensure the critical and commercial success of the product
  • enjoy following set procedures and routines
  • be analytical and have good attention for detail so that you can find bugs and glitches in a game

Work values

Video game designers enjoy being able to work on their own and make decisions. Good working conditions are of paramount importance to you. You value achievement and are results-oriented; it’s important to you that employees are allowed to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Work environment

Video game designers have a fairly high level of social interaction. They work with programmers, artists, animators, producers and audio engineers. They typically work indoors, in offices and spend long periods sitting at a desk using a computer or attending meetings. They may have to work longer hours as deadlines approach.

Places of employment

Typical employers of video game designers are video game developing companies (known as video game developers and video game studios) and video game publishers.

Education and training qualifications

More careers in game design

Besides being a video game designer, there are many other roles which support the field of game design. Check these out!

Job What they do
Game animator An essential role in just about any production, the game animator draws upon a large skillset of both 2D and 3D techniques to bring characters and models to life within the limits of the game’s framework (and production budget.)
Game audio engineer The audio engineer creates the soundtrack for a game. This might include music, sound effects to support the game action (such as gunshots or explosions), character voices and other expressions, spoken instructions, and ambient effects, such as crowd noise, vehicles or rain.
Game programmer The designer dreams it up, and the programmer makes it happen. Game programmers work at the heart of the game development process. They write the computer code that runs and controls the game, incorporating and adapting any ready-made code libraries and writing custom code as required. They test the code and fix bugs, and also develop customised tools for use by other members of the development team.
Creative game director The chief in charge of shaping the artistic vision for the entire game, and one of the most senior positions on the development team in terms of responsibility for the overall quality of the game as a whole.
Game artist Working directly under the creative director, the hierarchy of artists (mainly comprised of a lead game artist and those working beneath him or her) collaborate with the designers, programmers, and animators to create the visual elements of the game.
Game marketer / PR The hard work of all the professionals on this page would come to naught if nobody ever hears of the game, and that’s when the PR and marketing staff come into play. Getting the word out there, inspiring people to purchase the title and managing online reputation of both the studio and game are all part of the job, which can be easier said than done on some projects.
QA game tester If there’s a single bug or way to ‘break’ a game, you can guarantee the paying public will discover it so it’s the job of the testing team to find such glitches and identify areas for improvement before release. Widely considered to be the bottom rung of the production ladder despite the essential service they provide to the team.
Video game system designer Everything above covers the creation of video games themselves, but who’s responsible for making the machines on which they’re played? That comes down to the system designer.

Adapted from: New Youk Film Academy, Game Design Jobs: Average Salary & Career Path Glossary

Watch these videos!

What is a game designer? Watch this video to find out.

What skills do you need to be a game designer? Get some tips here.

A day in the life of a video game designer.


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