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Game Designer

Industries:
Games
Personality type:
Creative
Departments:
Design

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fnNS8_NDic

The lowdown

  • Devising what a game consists of and how it plays, defining all the core elements 
  • Communicating this to the rest of the development team who create the art assets and computer code

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • be able to work in collaboration with multi-disciplinary teams
  • be able to communicate your vision to artists, programmers, producers, marketing staff, and others involved in the development process
  • be able to accept constructive feedback on your work
  • be able to present your ideas both verbally and on paper
  • be imaginative and creative
  • have good written and verbal communication skills 
  • have good basic visual design and drawing skills
  • be reasonably fluent in a range of 2D and 3D graphics and animation packages, such as 3D Studio Max, NUKE or Maya
  • have some programming skills at least at ‘scripting’ level 
  • have an awareness of the various games platforms and technologies
  • possess a thorough understanding of game play theory
  • have storytelling and narrative development skills
  • be skilled in information design and user interface design
  • be able to think systematically and strategically
  • have knowledge of the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures

What does a Game Designer do?

Game Designers devise what a game consists of and how it plays. They plan and define 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. Once the game is devised, the Game Designer communicates this to the rest of the development team who create the art assets and computer code that allow the game to be played.

Sometimes the Game Designer comes up with the game’s premise. More often, most of the core ingredients are already defined and they must decide how to create the best game using these elements, within a certain budget and timescale.

Game Designers are employed by development studios, both independent and publisher-owned. The game design process is usually shared between a number of different people, overseen by a Lead Designer.

Game Designers should 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 appropriate to each platform.

During development, the Game Designer makes adjustments to the original specification for the game to respond to technical constraints which have been identified and to incorporate new programming and art creation methods developed by the team. They also train QA Testers to play the game, making sure that they understand what is expected of the finished product.

The design process goes through different stages:

  • After some initial research, the Game Designer puts together the concept document or initial design treatment, used to convince other members of the team that the game is worth taking forward
  • The development of a proof of concept, where a small team of artists and programmers work with the Game Designer to build a prototype, while the Game Designer puts together the full game design document

This document describes the intended playing experience and defines all the game functionality and associated art and animation assets required to create it. It is referred to by all development staff throughout the development process. It may require changing and updating to reflect production and technical decisions taken during the production cycle for the game.

Will I need a qualification?

You don’t need a specific qualification to be a Game Designer. However, most people entering the industry are graduates.

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’s no set route you can follow to become a Game Designer. However, this is not an entry-level role. Game development is a highly complex, intensive process which can last up to two years or more, requiring teams of programmers, artists, project managers, writers, musicians and many others.

The Game Designer is central to this process. As well as, in most cases, having a degree, you will also need to have gained a reasonably high level of industry experience and knowledge. Employers will expect to see your portfolio of work, which can take the form of completed game projects or written game design documents and proposals.

Your most likely route would be to move into the role from other jobs in the industry. It will help to have direct experience of at least one other aspect of game development and a good working knowledge of others.

A common route you can take into the role is via a developer or publisher Quality Assurance (QA) department working as a QA Tester. This offers a good grounding in the development process, access to software and tools, and an insight into the different job roles.

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