Are you considering a career designing games? If so, read on.
Video game designers use both creative and technical skills while producing electronic entertainment. And they fuel their careers with their enthusiasm for video games. In other words, they use their untamable passion for games to earn their living.
By being here, we bet you're excited to become a game designer. To do that, however, you have to know what this career path entails. To help you out, we will explain the job duties of a video game designer, attempt to throw light on questions regarding the game designing job, and offer a step-by-step guide on how to turn your video game passion into game creation.
For starters, video game designers design, develop and produce games by working closely with a development team. They create the in-game characters, write the storyline alone or in conjunction with storytelling specialists, and, obviously, design the game's mechanics, such as combat system or skill trees. On top of that, designers might have to use technical knowledge to write and run game code. So, having a solid understanding of computer programming is a must for this job position.
Sometimes, they may need to be extra creative and build plot lines or design game mechanics that appeal to the video game audience. As a bottom line, by working together with game developers and artists, they do not need only to produce polished or rewarding games but also highly profitable. Besides, the point of being hired in a job is to create profit for your employer. So, video game designers have to do just that.
To become a video game designer, you have to follow some specific steps. These are:
Gain Video Game Knowledge
Attain an Education
Find a Part-Time Job
Build a Portfolio
This step should not come as a surprise. If you want to become a game designer, you need to understand and be passionate about video games. Most designers grew up with video games. However, even if you did not, it is not late to start getting acquainted with them and this relatively modern entertainment form.
To gain video game knowledge, join a Reddit community such as r/gaming or keep up with the latest video game news by following a game website. A simple Google search suffice and will bring many results of relevant video game news outlets. Subscribing to a video game YouTube channel is a good idea, too. There are myriads available, and, consequently, you will not run out of choices.
After you get familiarized with video games, try to take notes about what you like and what you do not like in video games and gaming genres (RPG, FPS, TPS, MMORPG, etc.) as you test them out. You have to think critically and from a designer's perspective about how a game is made and what purpose a character or a plot twist may play to the player experience.
A bachelor's degree is the bare minimum, video game companies expect from their game designers. Sample subjects in a video game designing course or a computer science course include advanced mathematics, logic, and computer programming.
However, if you already have a major in a different field, such as communication or business, do not worry. You can opt for a postgraduate course in game designing or participate in a coding Bootcamp in the hope of landing a job as a software developer. You could even strive to learn the ins and outs of a game engine, such as the Unreal Engine, and join a mobile app developer team. Even freelancing is a solution until you become confident and apply to a large game studio. To sum it up, the point should be to gain valuable industry experience in any way you can.
While studying, you should aim to get practical experience in game designing in the form of an internship. Reach out to professors or fellow students and ask whether they are aware of any part-time or summertime positions at game studios.
With a video game design internship, you get the opportunity to work next to industry professionals and learn the job first hand. Just by watching and following the instructions of mentors or team leaders, you familiarize yourself with how a professional environment of a video game company works. In the case you have graduated from your school, contact game studios about internships by phone (for a more formal communication), and make sure to check Leaderboard, as internships and entry-level job positions are posted every day.
Except for gaining valuable work experience through an internship, you could try to hone your skills on your own through practice. Start your computer and try to re-design a game that you love. For instance, you could edit game mechanics or change the ending.
As you gain practical experience, you might try your writing or storytelling skills by creating a new storyline, experimenting with game mechanics, or putting in the effort and designing a game using specialized software.
If you feel happy with your work, include it in your portfolio. Afterward, take your work samples along with you to job interviews to demonstrate your programming skills, creativity, writing, and game designing experience.
Like in every job, before applying for entry-level game designing positions, double-check the description and requirements. Having read the job description carefully, decide if the job is for you. Also, take a moment to consider whether you meet the necessary requirements. You don’t want to be accepted for an interview but fail to meet any of the requested qualifications, embarrassing yourself.
If you like what you read, then go ahead and apply. Before doing so, however, personalize your CV and your cover letter to the job posting. Seriously, spamming résumés and cover letters are not a great way to express your passion for game designing. So, promote your skills, highlight relevant work experience, and write a winning cover letter by bringing to the table what you offer to the game studio and the position.
Get Ready for Interviews
Interviews are tough and challenging. But to ace your game design interview, you have to be prepared in advance. For starters, practice how to reply to common interview screening questions, update your work portfolio and prepare your own list of questions to address to the interviewer at the end of the interview.
Since the nature of the job is technical, game design interviews will revolve around technical questions. You need to demonstrate your proficiency with designing software and your complete understanding of what the position entails. Do also strive to show your passion for the video game industry and the game studio too.
After your interview is over, the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions. That is your chance to shine and show your interest in the job. Sample questions include:
Or you could check our video game interview tips for additional help.
A video game designer is believed to be the same as a video game developer. But that is not accurate, as depending on the video game company, there are some significant differences between the two roles.
For instance, game designers are responsible for the story, characters, and overall game concept. On the other hand, developers need to realize these through coding and with the help of a developing kit usually given by the game company or console maker, like Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft. Likewise, designers focus on the game's vision, but developers try to execute it and give it life.
Further, designers use creative tools, such as graphic design software, to design their games. Developers, however, know how to use specialized software to write and edit code for a game to work without bugs and glitches.
Becoming a successful game designer is no piece of cake. It is challenging and requires numerous skills. In fact, without them, a career in game designing is going to fail before it has even begun.
As they create a game, video game designers face roadblocks that have to be addressed. They have to identify what is the issue and then suggest an approach on how to resolve it. Problem-solving is a substantial skill that is required in game development, from writing code to creating a captivating plot.
As mentioned above, video game designers are in close communication with the development team. They explain their vision, debate methods, and game mechanics and receive criticism. On that note, it is super important to accept it as constructive, as a way to improve upon their work and implement new, exciting ideas into a game creation project. Consequently, game designers are in open communication with the studio's management, Quality Assurance (QA), fellow designers, and game developers.
Creativity is a powerful tool in the hands of video game designers. Designers use creativity to design innovative and unique storylines and game mechanics. And since the video game market is saturated with new releases, creating distinctive games is vital.
Video game designer salaries depend on the employer (game studio), work experience, and location. Typically, a game designer's salary increase with industry experience and as they increase their skills. Professionals who own their own gaming studios earn high paychecks as also consultants.
In the United States, game designers earn from $7.25 to $34.65 per hour, accumulating up to $141.866 per year.
Looking for jobs to apply to? Check out all of our open video game careers here.