4 answers

What life style choices might you have to take to be a video game designer?

Updated Silver Spring, Maryland

I want to know what choices in life would be good choices to become a video game designer. #computer-science #computer-software #video-games #software-engineering #software-development #video-game-design #video-production #career-details

4 answers

Brendan’s Answer

Updated Bellevue, Washington


This site shows a list of studios in most areas of the world. This should help you discover what's out there.

As far as "lifestyle" goes...

1) Work hard in school and in your free time. Take your education seriously and learn as much as you can about anything that interests you. You have no idea where you will find inspiration and influences. I work with some guys who used to be architects and then became level designers. I used to be a boxing teacher and sold copiers. Life takes weird turns.

2) Play a lot of games and think critically about them, both mechanically and experientially. In other words, what does it feel like to play a particular game? What experience and emotion is it creating?

3) Do not spend all your time playing games. You need a wide breadth of experience. Travel. Do art. Play music. Do lots of things that will give you life experience and more importantly, and understanding of how people think, feel, and behave. If you don't understand human emotion, you are going to have a really hard time.

4) Make stuff. It doesn't have to be huge or amazing. Start small and simple. Google some free engines and tutorials.

5) Be nice and be social. No one wants to work with a jerk. Be kind to others. People might not remember things you did or said, but they'll remember how you made them feel, and it will come back to bite you if you screwed up.

6) Work some entry-level jobs doing whatever. You will not get your dream job right away. Start somewhere and work. Pay your dues. Work hard and keep learning in your free time.

Jeff’s Answer

Updated Round Rock, Texas


Very interesting question!

I have never been in the game development industry but I did a fair amount of digging when I was trying to develop a game programming major at a local college. I talked to a lot of the major players.

First your choice of location is limited. Although there are some who telecommute, you really need to be in one of the game development hubs. I know there are a few in California and the east coast. Austin, Texas is definitely one of the hubs. You'll need to do a bit of digging to find the exact development hubs when you are ready since they can and do change over time. Also, make sure you are researching development not distribution hubs.

The most important aspect is that it needs to be a complete passion. There were more than a few cots and couches for people to sleep. Many work 18 to 20 hours a day. If it's not a total passion, you will burn out quickly. Your life has to be gaming. But that's why you get into game development for the love!

Look into specialized colleges, such as Full Sail University, www.fullsail.edu, in Florida.

If there is a game development company locally, see if they need volunteers to test. Also, look for game developers on LinkedIn and connect with them. Ask questions but be respectful of their time. Don't ask too many questions.

Best of luck! Remember my comments are as an outsider with a bit of a view into that world so take it all with a grain of salt.


Thank you so much for the information!
Thomas, Happy to help. When you are ready to head into game development, contact me. I still have a few contacts in that industry and will hopefully have some when you are ready.

Mark’s Answer

Updated Morrisville, North Carolina

I will freely admit to NOT being a game designer, and I understand the allure. In some ways it sounds great to get paid to "play games all day" and to "design those games that millions of others will play". And as others have noted, if you passion is to do this, I wish you the best!

However, I have seen people's passions change over time. People that wanted to do "graphics interfaces" (popular in '83 when I started in the industry) and nothing BUT "graphical interfaces" were so SICK of graphical interfaces after 5 years they wanted to do anything else! :)

Realize too there isn't any specific "magic" to these games. They are detailed and beautiful and thoughtful because thousands upon thousands of hours of work went into each of them. Watch the credits at the end of any of the "main feature film" these days. Watch ALL of them! There are lot of software jobs represented, and not all of them are exciting. But they are, in their own way essential!

Having a degree in Computer Science or Software Engineering or any of the related fields will let you pick and choose the field that you go into. It is just that flexible, and the need is that great. And in many ways a gaming company may be looking more for someone that understands "software development process" more than someone that writes an interesting story line.

Follow your interest and explore it more! Don't worry if you find SOME things you don't like about the job... every job has those. But make sure that you do pay attention to all those other "items" that look like they don't apply immediately to games. You might find out that really, day-to-day, they do. And you will have multiple paths you can follow if your interests change.

Best of luck! Have fun while you explore!

Ed’s Answer

Updated Dallas, Texas

Play lots of games. Decide what you liked and what you might have improved in the ones you played. Think about how you might have tackled some of the similar problems they probably did in developing the games.