4 Steps to Becoming a Videogame Designer
Yana Minnes

It seems like the first-ever game was created only yesterday. In a short span of time game development has undergone tremendous changes. Simplistic pixels became complex visual designs and plain setups gave way to layered storylines. Entire generations grew up with videogames. It is clear that this industry has left a mark on the cultural landscape of the 21st century.

The main demographic that most video games target is college students. After all, having a nice evening playing your favorite game after you placed an order at a reliable paper writing service like writepaper.com. After placing an order you can feel free to spend your time on gaming except for wasting your time on writing essays. However, there are plenty of adult-themed games that can be interesting even for full adults. The spectrum is truly wide.

Among those affected by this new medium, there are quite a few that thought about creating video games themselves. If you are one of those who considered the idea of making games for a living - this article is for you. Today we will go into detail about what the enigmatic profession of a game designer entails and how to actually make your way to its ranks.

Who Is a Game Designer?

Creating video games is a team effort. It involves tight cooperation between visual designers, writers, testers, and a whole bunch of other people to work the magic. So where does a game designer find themselves among all of these professionals? Well, it depends on a multitude of factors.

Strictly speaking, a game designer is responsible for the ‘game’ component of a project. They are supposed to create and polish game mechanics on a conceptual level and oversee their implementation. However, the reality is rarely that simple.

Depending on the company and its size, a game developer’s duties may overlap with a range of different roles. They may be coding, writing, testing, maybe even designing characters. As a general rule, the bigger the company, the more specialized game designers can afford to be.

The knowledge of programming will very much help you with your career but it is not strictly required. You can get into game design from virtually any other role you can think of. All you need is at least one skill that is useful for development be it writing, visual design, mapping, management, or coding.

One thing should be perfectly clear: a game designer is not simply an ‘idea guy’. If you imagine yourself drafting some concepts, giving orders, and supervising the development process, you should probably look into another position. Game designers are not the center of development, but rather one (albeit a pretty important) part of it.

So, now that you know what you are getting into, how do you actually get into development? There are two main routes one can take. They both have their pros and cons. It’s hard to say which one is preferable. But either can help you get started in the industry. Let’s look over each one of them in detail.

Route A: Corporate Ladder

Rather than trying to invent the wheel, why not become a part of an existing system? There are plenty of big game development companies with several successful titles under their belt out there. The people that work there have years of experience to back them up. And they will have all the answers you are looking for at the ready.

It is certainly an experience to work in a big game dev company. The pros include stable pay, a huge rate of professional growth, and the opportunity to put your name in the credits of a AAA title.

On the other hand, the bigger the company is, the more specialized its employees are. You are very unlikely to get an opportunity to dip your toes into every aspect of development. Moving up the corporate ladder can take a lot of time. Meanwhile, you’ll be stuck doing something extremely niche and most likely boring. It’s up to you whether you are willing to deal with it.

The easiest way to get your foot in the door is through the QA department. Quality assurance specialist is an entry-level position. It needs very few (if any) qualifications and gets to see the game from the early stages of development. It’s a pretty routine job but it is much easier to transfer to somewhere more exciting from QA than to try and land a job from outside of the company.

Route B: Indie Development

The second route is the purgatory that is indie development. The story of a one-man-army developer putting everything on the line to work on what he’s feeling passionate about is all too familiar. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always have a happy ending.

Going indie gives you an immense amount of freedom. A tiny team means you will have direct access to all the aspects of development. It will allow you to develop a pretty robust skill set and give you unique insight into game dev problems. And if you manage to pull through, the glory of success will be all yours to savor.

The main problem is the funding. Unless by some miracle you manage to secure sponsors or finish a crowdfunding campaign, you will have to pay for your game out of your own pocket. That means you will either have to work a full-time job to support your destructive development habit or live on instant noodles. Are you willing to pawn your car to fulfill your creative vision? That’s the question you will have to answer for yourself.

Final Words

So there you have it. Two completely valid paths, both filled with their own struggles. All in all, becoming a game designer is pretty simple if only concept-wise.
  • Step 1: Determine if game development is really something you want to do
  • Step 2: Find your way into a game development company or start an indie-project
  • Step 3: Work long and hard to release your game or climb the career ladder
  • Step 4: Profit

Regardless of which path you choose, you are bound to run into some speed bumps one way or another. Whether or not these obstacles will make you quit is what separates a game developer from an amateur.