Is Becoming a Game Designer Hard? Essential Guide

Is Becoming a Game Designer Difficult?

The field of game design continues to expand at astounding rates with no signs of stopping anytime soon. For many individuals, a career in game design sounds like an exciting position with plenty of opportunity for fun! While it can certainly be a rewarding career, it is not always as easy as it may seem.

Is becoming a game designer hard? ​Game design is a challenging yet rewarding career. Many of the skills needed to succeed as a game designer require a high level of technical skill and expertise. For this reason, aspiring game designers need to possess an undeniable passion for gaming that encourages them to push through the tedious road to a profitable career.

Do you think you have what it takes to become a game designer? In this post, we will discuss the path to achieving your dream job. We will also share several tips for success in this competitive field.

Essential Guide to Becoming a Game Designer

game design exampleWhile the field of game design continues to expand, so does the number of individuals interested in this career path. For this reason, becoming a game designer can be quite challenging.

Game Designer Job Description

Before you begin your journey to becoming a game designer, it is important to develop an understanding of what the job truly entails. Many people are under the misconception that a game designer is the one who creates the game. While this is true in some ways, game designers are usually not the individuals who are responsible for the actual game development.

In most cases, a game designer’s role is to manage the video game project including project budgets, timelines, details, and much more. Game designers are also responsible for creating new concepts for upcoming games, thinking through the mechanics of upcoming projects, and writing the storylines. As a game designer, it is important to have a passion and enthusiasm for the gaming industry.

Because game designers often oversee a team of developers and programmers, it is important to have great communication skills, keen attention to detail, and overall knowledge of the many aspects of video game design and development. Understanding the basics of development, programming, and logic will allow you to better communicate with your team.

 

As you begin your career as a game designer, you will likely work as a junior designer under the supervision of a lead game designer. The role of the lead game designer is to direct the vision of the game and maintain its integrity throughout them any states of production and development.

The Path to Becoming a Game Designer

It’s important to realize that the path to becoming a game designer requires great effort and patience. In fact, many of the top game designers today tell aspiring designers to expect to spend up to five years learning and building upon their skills before beginning to earn a decent salary in the field.

Passion for Game Design

The first stop on your path to becoming a game designer is to recognize your passion for game design. Because of the competitive nature of the field, with long hours and high-stress projects, it’s important to pursue this field because you are truly passionate about designing video games.

Level of Education Needed for Game Design

Next, you will need to spend several years attaining an education. Game design is a unique career. There are top game designers who began their careers by teaching themselves while others pursued a traditional education in the field.

The best way to secure your dream job as a game designer is to attain the education and experience that set you above the competition. Many successful video game designers today have a bachelor’s degree. A few degrees that are beneficial in this field include game design, computer science, or computer engineering.

While pursuing traditional education, it can also be to your benefit to take courses in mathematics, logic, music, art, programming, and more. Keep reading to learn how some of these additional skills and courses can benefit your future career.

Develop Skills That Set You Apart

As mentioned previously, the path to becoming a professional game designer is quite competitive. For this reason, it is to your advantage to develop skills that set you apart. Developing a clear style of communication will improve your chances of securing your dream job.

 

Other skills, such as learning a coding language, will show a future employer that you are well-versed in many aspects of game design and development, ensuring that you are a great addition to their team.

Practice, Practice, Practice

One of the best things you can do on your road to becoming a game designer is to practice your skills. Start creating video games, asking for feedback from friends or classmates, and improving upon your design.

There are many game engines available today that make it possible to design a fun, exciting video game even before you have developed a full understanding of programming or are fluent in a coding language.

Begin to investigate a variety of video game styles. Look at the design elements that you appreciate versus those that you would change. This practice can help you develop an eye for the key design elements that make and break many video games today.

Land Your Dream Job As a Game Designer

The road to becoming a game designer will culminate when you land your dream job. There are many ways you can earn money as a game designer. You can choose to work for an indie game design studio or pursue a position at a larger studio. Some game designers choose to embark on their own journey to produce and design their own video games!

While each of these career paths has unique advantages and disadvantages, it is important to remember that this is just the start of your journey. Throughout your years as a game designer, you will continue to learn and progress. And one day, after years of hard work, you will find yourself with the title of lead game designer, managing a team of developers as you create video games for the next generation of gamers.

Difficulties of Becoming a Game Designer

man designing game aloneThe role of a game designer is certainly one of the most exciting and rewarding careers. However, it may not always seem like the dream job you once thought it to be. In this section, we will share some of the difficult aspects of becoming a game designer.

Long, Unpredictable Hours

One of the greatest disadvantages of becoming a game designer is the long, unpredictable hours. Especially at the beginning of your career, you will find yourself working nonstop. Because of this, it is crucial that you are truly dedicated to the success of the project you are working on. Game design is by no means a nine to five job.

 

High-Stress Position

Depending on the studio where you work, you may find that game design can be a high-stress position. When working in a large game design studio, you will often find yourself under seemingly impossible deadlines that you must meet.

One way to mitigate the stress of becoming a game designer is to work for a smaller game design studio. However, many game designers find that they thrive under the stress of larger studios and enjoy the projects that a larger studio allows them to work on.

Competitive Field

Game design promises a rewarding career and great financial gain. However, because of the excitement surrounding the video game industry, there are more aspiring game designers than there are positions. Because of this, it has become an incredibly competitive field.

Not only must you compete against other aspiring designers but you must also work to remain relevant, always taking the time to seek out the latest trends in video game design.

Geographical Location of Game Design Studios

Another obstacle to becoming a successful game designer is the geographical location of game design studios. As an aspiring game designer, it is to your benefit to move to a region that has several studios where you could work.

Currently, the top country for game design is the United States with a large concentration of studios in both California and Texas. If you are not open to the idea of moving to a new state or country, you may have trouble landing your dream job as a game designer.

Courses to Make Game Design Less Difficult

In addition to a bachelor’s degree in a related field, there are other courses that can benefit your future as a game designer. The goal of any aspiring game designer should be to improve upon their skills to be more marketable as an asset to a studio’s team.

Computer Science

Knowledge of computer science will help you to understand the basics of how computers work. This will allow you to communicate more effectively with game developers as you will understand computer operating systems, algorithms, programming, and other topics related to how computers work.

 

Programming

While programming or coding are not necessary skills for a game designer, there are times when you will find them useful. Especially when working for a smaller game design studio, a game designer may find themselves working alongside game developers in order to expedite a process.

Learning more about computer programming or becoming fluent in a coding language such as C++ or Java will allow you to communicate more efficiently with developers and make you more marketable as a designer.

Mathematics

While it may not seem a valuable skill for a game designer to have, learning more about both mathematics and logic will help you as you design and create engaging, realistic video games.

Game Design

If the focus of your bachelor’s degree is something other than game design, it is wise to take additional courses with this focus. Game design courses will provide you with the knowledge that is focused on game mechanics, creating game storylines, how to properly document the design of a game for your team, and so much more.

Music

One other area that can benefit your career as a game designer is a knowledge of music composition. Even if you do not have an interest in writing music, knowing more about how soundtracks are made and what makes a good soundtrack will add to your value as a game designer.

How to Succeed In a Difficult Game Design Industry

So, how do you truly succeed as a game designer? While the path to this career may seem long and tedious, there are a few key concepts that will aid in your success. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you begin your journey.

Don’t Be Afraid of Hard Work

No matter your position or level of experience, a game designer should not be afraid to work hard. The most successful game designers have dedicated themselves to years of long, tedious work before landing a role as a lead game designer.

In addition to hard work, an aspiring game designer should not be afraid to work for free. By interning or offering your services to more advanced game designers, you will accumulate valuable experience as well as gain connections within the community.

Engage in The Game Design Community

When you are looking to break into such a competitive community, connections are everything. As you work towards your goal of becoming a game designer, engage in the game design community.

If it is possible, move to an area that is popular amongst game designers such as San Francisco or Austin. If a move is not feasible, pursue online connections with more advanced designers and learn from their knowledge.

Pursue Further Game Design Education

Throughout your career as a game designer, it is important that you are constantly pursuing further education. Just like any career that is based in technology, video games are always changing. In order to succeed in this field, you must remain relevant and up to date on the latest trends. Luckily, there are endless ways to continue your education once you are working in the field of game design.

Gain Experience Through Freelance Positions

Is there an aspect of game design that you are interested in? Are there skills you wish to improve? Seek out opportunities for experience through freelance positions. You can easily find both paid and unpaid positions that will allow you to gain valuable experience as a game designer.

Allow Your Passion to Fuel Your Video Game Work

Lastly, passion is the most critical ingredient to your success as a game designer. There will be times when you question your career path or become discouraged. In these moments, remember why you started on this path and let your passion for high-quality game design fuel your work. If you are truly passionate about becoming a game designer, you will find this career to be incredibly rewarding.

If you want to keep learning, you can read more of my recent articles here.

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