2 answers

What are the requirements to become a Game Designer?

Asked Oakland, California

I am very into drawing and designing things for the school and for people that enjoy my skills of art. I just want to know what can I do to get my art into the gaming industries. #art #artist #video-game-design #game-design #video-games

2 answers

Estevan’s Answer

Updated San Francisco, California

It can be challenging fresh out of school (whether high school, junior college, university or vocational school) to go straight into game design simply because its a competitive field. In relation to software engineers, artists, project managers and other roles on game teams, designers compose a much smaller portion of any given team.


Potentially focusing your studies on a specific more "traditional" field such as art, business or computer science while taking courses or self studying on the subject of game design is the "safest" and most "traditional" path to becoming a game designer.


However I have worked, at Zynga specifically, at companies that have hired junior designers straight out of specialized college programs. So it does happen.


My personal journey into games, I too was most attracted to design in high school, was to study computer science as that seemed to pay well and have opportunities post-graduation outside of games (if i could not get into the field) and I worked with my college to design a course that was also rounded out with writing, business, art and consumer design courses.


Luckily I went to the University of California, Santa Cruz which launched a formal computer science course with a focus on computer game design my junior year I was able to transfer into that I can not recommend enough (https://www.soe.ucsc.edu/departments/computational-media/bs-computer-game-design). Other colleges through out the country offer similar courses.


If you really love game design but simply have no interest in the technical aspect - or maybe simply do not have access to the technological resources right now, which I did not in high school - pen and paper (board games) or IRL games (tag, treasure hunts, etc) are much easier to create, you can start working on them right now, and share all the same principles as video games: agency (the meaningful choices a user can make), outcomes with risk (win/lose), user experience (are the rules and interactions self explanatory), and so on. There are certainly some specialization specific to video games but the similarities far out weigh the difference.


Additionally if you are interested in the subject I'd recommend some reading/tools:

  • Chris Crawford has written a lot on this subject and is highly respected in the field - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Crawford_(game_designer)
  • "Rules of Play" is a very common book used in college level courses - https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/rules-play
  • If you have access to a computer at home or school that can run it Unity3D is a free game engineer, complicated for sure but also powerful if you want to make an actual video game - https://unity3d.com/learn/tutorials
  • RPG maker or game maker, little easier than unity (but again need tech resources) - http://www.rpgmakerweb.com/ and https://www.yoyogames.com/gamemaker

Ed’s Answer

Updated Dallas, Texas

To me "game designer" is a position you work your way into. Typically you might start as either an artist or a programmer working on a game project. Then as you've worked on several projects and made valuable contributions you might be able to pitch your own game to your company. Starting out as a game designer is almost like trying to be conductor of a symphony orchestra without ever having played an instrument.

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