What does a Video Game Designer do?

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What is a Video Game Designer?

The gaming industry is at full swing; its progress has surpassed that of many other industries within a few years, and the industry boasts a revenue of $7 billion. Video games are enjoyed by people of all ages, allowing players to step into an alternate world and become superhuman soldiers, expert tennis players, and world saviors.

Video games are terribly complex, in storyline alone, and there are millions of lines of code that develop every aspect of the game, from maps to characters, and fulfill a reaction for every possible action that a player may choose. These worlds are courtesy of video game designers, who are responsible for the content and environment of every video game.

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What does a Video Game Designer do?

A video game begins with a concept. A proposal is drafted by a team of game designers, who address important details such as target audience, requirements, deadlines, and budgets.

Designers make that concept of gameplay and layout come alive, often through experimentation with several themes and genres, as well as developments and improvements on existing games.

This can include:

  • Plots and storylines
  • Characters
  • Maps, scenarios, and difficulties
  • Methods for winning or losing the game
  • User interface creation

All of this is created through computer software in which the designer will input computer scripting, which is then processed by the software to generate commands, events, objects and characters that players interact with.

There are many types of game designers who focus on a particular aspect of gameplay. Most designers will spend at least some of their time as testers, where they can experiment with coding and watch others’ mistakes firsthand. Lead designers are the coordinators of the team and are responsible for communication inside and outside of the design team, as well as making important decisions. A game mechanics designer works on the balance of the game and its rule system. Lastly, an environmental designer is responsible for creating the different scenarios and environments of the game.

A game will undergo millions of changes throughout its making, and game designers are required to constantly recheck and recode thousands of lines of coding. A designer can also be called upon to develop a game to focus on a particular aspect, such as market, design, technology, or art. Games that are market-driven are designed to make a profit, and therefore their progress is limited to consumer demand. Most games are developed in this manner. Games that are design-driven allow the designer to take full reign of the game and its aspects. Many games are not developed in this manner because of monetary restraints. Games that are technology-driven are created in order to highlight a technological achievement or to market gaming consoles and engines, such as high-quality graphic displays. Rarely, a game will be art-driven, where a game is focused on visual effects and impressive designs created by artists.

How to become a Video Game Designer

Having a passion and a love for video games is essential. Game companies are looking for designers who have invested time into gaming, who love playing games, who are familiar with different gaming consoles, and who understand what makes a good game good. Active players will be able to bring innovation for improvements, as well as make fixes to currently ineffective and unattractive design elements.

A designer is an inventor of sorts. An alternate world is their creation, and its success depends on the power of the designer’s imagination. A designer must also be able to think on their feet and have advanced problem-solving skills. Video game design is not an exact science; it is prone to bugs and problems that must be quickly spotted and fixed. This area calls for quick adaptations and constant innovations as technology improves and video games are able to be more accurate and realistic. The designer creates this world through lines of code, and therefore must be knowledgeable in the field of computer programming and software creation.

Working well in a team, especially when working for large gaming companies, is important in order to meet deadlines and launch the game on time. A designer must also have excellent communication skills in order to persuade fellow teammates of an alternate method that is more efficient, or introduce new methods that may prove to be useful to the game design. Designers must also be able to work together in order to create concepts and parts of the game that are all fluid with one another, as if there had been only one person who created the game based off of his/her vision.

Post-secondary education is often required to hold a position as a game designer. Typically a designer can seek education at local technical schools in the subjects of computer graphics, animation and software design.

What is the workplace of a Video Game Designer like?

Game designers typically work for gaming companies such as Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, etc. They typically work in an office or studio-like setting amongst other designers and programmers. This environment can get very stressful, especially close to big deadlines or a server crash.