Want to Become a Game Designer? Here’s How...
Thinking of either changing career direction or getting into game designing properly? It’s a job that requires a great deal of skill and training, and isn’t something you can get into overnight. But it can also be immensely rewarding and a real learning curve with a chance to continually update and improve your skill-set. If it’s something you’ve been considering, or would just like more info on how to achieve your dream, then read on.
It’s a Competitive Industry
First, it’s important to point out that just like many other roles within the world of tech, there’s a lot of competition and you’ll need to be a cut above to make the grade. If your CV or training isn’t kept updated regularly, then there’s every chance you won’t get the jobs you want to apply for. The fast, ever changing world of software and games development means that more than most, people in this industry really need to move with the times.
Game design and Game Development are Quite Different
Most people use these two terms interchangeably, to mean the same thing - but game design work and game development work are really quite different.
Game design: This involves the mechanics of a game, storyline development and new concepts in the world of gaming
Game development: This is solely to do with how a game is made, right from the initial animations through to final stages of engineering.
But whilst the two roles are distinctly different, they can’t exist without each other. The designer needs the developer and vice versa. Both roles are equally important and play a vital role in how a game comes together.
How to Know if it’s the Right Kind of Job for You
The biggest single factor is - do you like video games, and are you interested in how they are made and played? The creative impetus must be there in the first place. You’ll need to have good, strong ideas and be able to plan thoroughly. A game designer must have strong attention to detail, but be able to handle constructive criticism well and cope under pressure. As with many jobs, strong verbal and written communication skills are a must, being able to articulate your ideas correctly, right down to the last pixel is so vital - after all, it’s your idea, your grand plan to develop the next big happening in the gaming world.
Bad Design Versus Good Design
So, you’ve read this far and you’ve decided that this career path is still the right one for you. Let’s take a look at how you can develop your questioning skills.
What constitutes a bad game design to you? Think about the worst game you ever played. What made it so bad - was it the characters, storyline and plot, incidental music, graphics? It’s easy to talk about why something wasn’t good - what’s more difficult is to be able to come up with a sensible way to improve it. If you can do that, then you’re onto a winner. Think laterally, and from the ground up - and keep going, questioning and ironing out all the potential problems you can see, until you think you’ve got them fixed. If you can do that and hone your analytical skills, it’s another sign that this is the right career path for you.
Now do the same with a good game design. Why do you love it so much? Is it the way it’s engineered? The mechanics? How the whole package comes together? Now think about whether it could be improved further by changing a specific element of it. It can be trickier to think about improving something you already love so much, but again, if you can constructively criticise - you’re potentially onto a winner.
Now let’s look at education and the types of college courses you’d need to get into this career path. You really don’t need to be at the most expensive or highly sought after educational establishment, but if you’re stuck with making a choice, always look to the school that has the better reputation - especially in the career path you want to choose.
The most common types of courses studied by those wanting to get into the industry are:
- Computer Science/Computer engineering: Amongst other things, here you’ll learn about science, operating systems programming methodologies algorithms input/output.
- Programming: Imagine being asked to make a program run more smoothly, or instigate a plan for a game from the root up. From algorithms to for-loops, you’ll need to know about how to make a computer do what you want, which in turn will make game design easier.
- Maths and Logic: It might not seem like an obvious choice, but being able to calculate a route between two points in maths can really help with game design. Think about point and shoot games.
Whilst you’re studying, think about simultaneously getting either an internship or some work experience to help you on your way. This is a great idea for long summer holidays or even weekends and free time. Not only will it keep your mind active, but you’ll be mixing with other people who want to do the same thing as you do. Sometimes internships and work experience can end up turning into full time jobs. There are plenty of dedicated websites for this kind of thing whether it’s Craig’s List or Upwork, or other freelance sites. If you live near to a large city, send off your resume to as many gaming places as possible. You can also offer to work remotely - many companies are setting up virtual offices for their staff these days too.
Finally, just keep persevering. This can be the biggest factor in getting you to where you want to be. If at first you don’t succeed, then try, try again. You might receive a lot of rejections at first, and that can be hard to cope with but keep plugging away - always keep your skillset active and your ideas and knowledge up to date. You’ll go far.