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Creative Director (Games)

Industries:
Games
Personality type:
Creative
Departments:
Design

The lowdown

  • Being responsible for the overall look and feel of a computer game
  • Overseeing any high-level decisions that affect how the game plays, looks or sounds
  • Ensuring the quality and style of the gameplay, artwork, music and audio assets

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • be able to inspire artists, programmers, producers and marketing staff to make the highest quality product possible
  • be able to make tough decisions that affect the game's schedule and budget as well as the look and feel of the final product
  • have a good understanding of the bigger picture of game development, including the impact of their decisions with respect to financial outcomes
  • have a passion for games 
  • understand what makes a game appealing to different audiences
  • possess excellent imagination, creativity and problem-solving skills
  • have excellent communication and presentation skills
  • have a good understanding of the financial and managerial aspects of game development
  • have knowledge of the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures

What does a Creative Director do?

The Creative Director is the key person during the game development process, overseeing any high-level decisions that affect how the game plays, looks or sounds.

Not all game companies employ Creative Directors. Some companies prefer to continue to split the duties between a game's Lead Artists, Lead Programmers, Designers and Producers.

Where the position is used, each game development team has its own Creative Director. Some highly experienced and talented Creative Directors oversee multiple projects.

They are responsible for the overall look and feel of a computer game. The position is a relatively new one within the games industry. It has evolved out of the producer's role, which has shifted towards managing the process of completing a game on time and on budget.

In contrast, the Creative Director's focus is on ensuring the quality and style of the gameplay, artwork, music and audio assets that make up the final product. In many cases, the Creative Director is also the creator of the original game concept and characters, and so makes sure that the finished game fulfils the initial goals.

At the start of a project, they work with a small core team defining the framework of the game, with special attention paid to the artistic styling and any technical obstacles that will need to be overcome.

As the game's development continues and more staff are added, the Creative Director works closely with the Lead Programmers, Artists and Designers to ensure all the code and art assets produced, as well as playable versions of the game, are of a sufficiently high quality. They deal with issues arising such as new features and any major redesigning of characters and scenarios.

Outside of the development team, they act as the game's champion, promoting it to executives who are not directly involved in production, such as the sales and marketing departments.

Will I need a qualification?

You don’t need a formal qualification to be a Creative Director. However, to be successful in the role, you will require a combination of experience, artistic vision and the ability to inspire others.

You will need to have experience at a senior level of game development and an enthusiasm for and detailed knowledge of the games industry.

Most Creative Directors are graduates, with common areas of study including visual and technical arts.

If you are considering taking a games course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the games industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a games career:

Games courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick

What’s the best route in?

There is no set route for you to follow to become a Creative Director, but it is not an entry-level role. You will usually need over five years’ experience in a senior game development position, with commercially successful titles under your belt.

You could work your way up to this role from previous experience working as a Lead Artist or Lead Designer, or from a production background. You will need to have developed an exceptional understanding of how the different components of a game combine together to create the finished product.

Another way to progress to this role is from a similar position in the film or special effects industries.

You could apply to be a Games Trainee through Trainee Finder, which gives you hands-on experience in the industry and helps you build those all important contacts that are essential when competing for a job:

More information about Trainee Finder

Interested? Find out more...

Websites

  • 3DWorld - the magazine for SFX, TV production and game development artists 
  • BECTU - the UK's media and entertainment trade union, covering broadcasting, film, independent production, theatre and the arts, leisure and digital media
  • Develop - the monthly magazine for European developers 
  • e-Skills UK - the Sector Skills Council for IT, Telecoms and Contact Centres
  • Edge - the UK's self-styled bible for UK gamers
  • Eurogamer - European-focused consumer website
  • Gamasutra - website founded in 1997 that focuses on all aspects of video game development
  • GameDev.net - online community for game developers of all levels
  • GamesIndustry.biz - covering breaking news from the game's business
  • IGDA - the International Game Developers Association, a global network of collaborative projects and communities comprising individuals from all fields of game development
  • IGN - internet media and services provider focused on the video game, entertainment men’s lifestyle markets
  • MCV - the weekly trade magazine of the UK games industry, 
  • TIGA - the Independent Games Developers Trade Association - non-profit trade association representing the UK's games industry
  • Ukie - the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment - champions the interests, needs and positive image of the video games and interactive entertainment industry whose companies make up its membership