Becoming a game designer – that’s a dream that so many young people uphold nowadays. It seems that everyone who has an artistic bone in their body is trying to figure out how to become a game designer. And that’s not odd at all – there are a lot of magnificent looking games these days! Just take a look at The Witcher 3 or Skyrim! The thought of being able to one day be a part of the creation of such games thrills people to the very core! In this tutorial, you will have the opportunity to learn some of the essential aspects that are required for you to become a professional game designer.
We’ll start off by covering the profession itself. After that, we’ll move on straight to the point – I’ll tell you about a select few essential things that are required from any and all game designers out there. In the end, we’ll take a look at why people wonder how to become a video game designer, in the first place.
Table of Contents
Before we start talking about how to become a game designer, it’s important that you understand all of the different variables that make up an actual game designer’s job. You might think that it’s pretty self-explanatory, but you would probably be surprised by just how many people mix these things up.
So, what does a video game designer career entail? Well, naturally, the obvious answer would be just that – video game design. However, as with most other specialties out there, game designers have a few different choices when it comes to choosing a specific career path. They can choose to become lead designers, content designers, level designers… There are a lot of possibilities to choose from! Depending on what exactly it is that you wish to do, you’ll have to choose a specific career path. For example, level designers are responsible for the creation of different environments, while lead designers take care of the technical side of things, while also mentoring their less-experienced colleagues.
Overall, however, game designers are people that create the actual game that you see on your screen. All of the different kinds of these designers are responsible for different visual aspects, puzzles, quests (their design), and so on. That being said, most game designers do have to be knowledgeable in the field of coding, as well – there are a lot of tasks that a game designer will have to perform that require decent programming knowledge.
With that said, you should now have a pretty good idea about the game designer skills and the video game designer career path, in general. That being said, let’s jump straight into the actual tutorial.
How to Become a Game Designer?
In order to learn how to become a game designer, you must first understand that there are quite a few requirements that this specialty has. However, since going through all of them would simply be impossible, we’ll stick to the more general, yet still super-important ones.
The aspects that we’ll be covering in this tutorial are education, experience, and motivation. So, without further ado, let’s begin by talking about education.
Education is most likely going to be the very first thing that you’ll get asked about once you enter your job interview. Adequate education is important – there are actually a couple of ways you can receive it.
First and foremost, the most popular route that people take is that they finish high-school and go to take their bachelor’s degree in either computer science, software development, or even game design itself. I say “even” because not all universities and colleges offer to teach people specific game designer skills – a lot of them are acquired through learning some other related specialty.
These days, however, not every single game designer has a university diploma to show. In fact, there are quite a few game designers who have only finished high-school and jumped straight into work. Not many companies are willing to hire such designers, but it all depends on the specific situation. If a person has practiced game design skills all through ought their high-school years and has something to show for it, it is highly likely that he or she will get an entry-level job in the field of game design.
If you do, however, choose to learn how to become a game designer the “old fashioned” way and study in a university or college, you should put all your focus on developing the game designer skills that are going to be needed for the specific career path that you’ll choose. During your student years, there are a lot of things that you can do that will guarantee you a spot in a company after you graduate. Surely, you wouldn’t expect to work in your dream company straight from the get-go. That being said, working in a smaller company will help you build up your experience and knowledge over time – something that’s really important when you’re just starting out!
Alternatively, you may choose to ignore universities and colleges altogether and follow the path of individual learning. Believe it or not, but when it comes to figuring out how to become a game designer, this path is actually becoming more and more popular. While learning on your own (or taking courses, hiring a tutor, enrolling into a dedicated group, etc.), you have the opportunity to manage your time in a way that would suit you best.
It might be quite difficult to dedicate yourself to study and learn the specialty of game design since it definitely isn’t one of the easier professions out there. However, if you manage to do it successfully, potential employers will definitely look favorably upon you!
That being said, you should definitely consider something either while studying in a university or on your own – individual projects. We’ll talk about this a bit more in the “Experience” chapter, but just keep in mind that if you manage to create a project on your own (i.e. an actual game), you will be miles ahead of your competition in the hiring process.
Experience is a bit of an odd topic since people who are looking at how to become a game designer usually don’t have any experience in the field, whatsoever. That being said, there is a wide variety of experiences that a person might possess – previous work is just an example. Let me elaborate.
One of the most important aspects of your job interview is going to be your portfolio. Honestly, it might even be the deciding factor between you getting the job and being shown the door, so to speak. Knowing that you should focus a huge amount of your attention on building the best portfolio you possibly can, regardless of whether you’re studying in a college or on your own. That said, a personal project (just as the earlier-mentioned game) would possibly be the highlight of your work.
If you manage to create a game on your own, you will not only show your potential employers that you possess the skill to do so, but that you’re also motivated to keep on learning and moving forward (we’ll talk about this more in the “Motivation” section of the tutorial). Furthermore, a game that you’ve created on your own would be an amazing jump-start to your video game designer career – you would already possess the experience that your competitors would likely only receive once they’ve officially started working.
Another way that people who are looking for how to become a game designer could gain experience is by participating in internships. This is especially true if you’re a university student – there are plenty of colleges and universities out there that offer students internships with different companies. This way, you get the opportunity to show your hard work and dedication to a specific employer who, if they like you and the way that you work, might even offer you a full-time job at the end of your internship.
So, to reiterate, there are many different ways that you can get experience. Sure, if you’ve already worked in the industry before and no longer have the question “how to become a game designer?”, it might be easier to get a job than, for example if you’re a complete newbie. This is definitely not a game-breaker, though. Employers value a person’s character traits just as much as their skills and expertise – which leads us to the final aspect of how to become a game designer.
Even though you might think that motivation is pretty self-explanatory, I assure you – things are a lot more complicated than they might look at first glance.
First of all, motivation doesn’t only mean that you like the topic and that’s why you want to learn how to become a game designer. You wouldn’t believe just how many people deem themselves to be “motivated” simply because they “like video games and sometimes read about coding”. A motivated game designer is someone who lives and breathes the topic – if you truly want to make this your future career path, you have to be willing to associate all of your everyday life with this topic.
Furthermore, motivation can be closely related to both your education and previous work experience. How? Let me explain.
A person’s motivation is usually quite evident once you take a look at the work that they do. Grades and a diploma can lie, but a portfolio will never do that. A single look at how someone builds their portfolio can be a dead giveaway whether or not that person is determined that game design is the career path for them, or if they’re just short-term designers that will soon turn their sights somewhere else.
By now, we’ve covered all three of the most important aspects of how to become a game designer. Not only that, but you also got the chance to learn some of the essential information about the profession itself. Now, with all of that said, let’s take a look at why people want to know how to become a video game designer.
Why Learn Game Design?
Without a doubt, the most commonly-encountered reason for why people want to learn how to become a video game designer is because this profession manages to encompass two awesome concepts – video games and creativity. There are thousands of creative and artistic people out there who also love computer games – to them, a career path like game design might seem like sent from above!
The fact that game design offers you the freedom to choose to either work in a company or freelance is also a great thing. These days, there are quite a few job titles that have this perk. However, not many of them are as attractive as game design. That being said, the majority of people still choose to work in a company. This is mostly because there, they can build a solid and guaranteed (especially when compared to freelancing) career path and earn an increased salary.
And that’s the other thing, too. A game designer salary is definitely something that motivates a ton of people to find out how to become a game designer. To give you an example, Glassdoor.com states that the average annual salary that a game designer can expect to earn is around $73,200 USD – that’s $6100 USD per month! No wonder many people find it attractive – you get paid a great salary for working on video games that you love!
All in all, you should always remember that even though the game designer career path is truly a tempting one, there is a lot of hard work involved. These designers have to be great not only in their artistic skills but have a thorough knowledge of coding, math, and other related fields. It’s a tough career path to follow, but it’s also definitely one that offers great rewards!
With that said, you now know the essential aspects that go into becoming a video game designer. I hope that this “How to Become a Game Designer” tutorial has helped you to better understand the profession and that you are thus prepared to become the next great designer. Good luck!