How To Become a Game Designer: A Complete Guide
Updated 26 January 2023
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Designing video games is an interesting way to use both technical and creative skills in the entertainment industry. A career as a video game designer also allows you to use your passion for video games to earn a living. If you are interested in pursuing this career, it is beneficial to know the steps to take to succeed. In this article, we discuss how to become a game designer and examine the duties, skills and qualifications associated with the role.
What does a game designer do?
Game designers are professionals who design specialised interfaces and software for games. They use their creative skills to storyboard plot lines and design mechanics for video games that might appeal to customers. Although some designers work with a development team, others may use their technical knowledge of computer programming to write and execute feasible game code by themselves. Some common duties of this role include:
Designing and developing concepts for new games
Writing plots, creating characters and deciding on themes for games
Using specialised tools for storyboarding
Documenting and detailing ideas for reference
Pitching ideas for new game concepts to management
Collaborating with other game developers
Ensuring that games meet industry and market standards for quality and performance
Enforcing deadlines for other designers and managing a project's production schedule
Testing their creations and supervising beta testing sessions
Checking their games for any errors or bugs related to gameplay, interface, animation, audio and video
Consulting with the marketing team to help create effective advertising campaigns for new projects
Foundational skills for a game designer
These skills could be beneficial for a video game designer:
Video game designers are responsible for communicating effectively with the entire game development team. They may regularly communicate with the studio's management team, game testers, designers and developers to manage projects. As game developers have to explain storyboards, characters, plots and all important aspects of games to other members of the team, they benefit from having good communication skills.
Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples
Video game design involves complex workflows, and designers often face roadblocks at multiple stages during the development of a game. Quick thinking and problem-solving skills can help them identify the source of an issue and suggest remedies for solving it. Error correction happens at every stage of game development, from plot creation to writing the final pieces of code. Hence, good problem-solving skills can help game designers succeed professionally.
Gaming is a dynamic and competitive field. Designers in this domain may have to consistently push themselves to generate innovative ideas and original concepts. The video game market is fairly saturated, with designers often having to market their creative flair to stand out. Video game designers may also be involved in associated creative practices like illustration, visual design, video editing and animation.
How to become a game designer
Follow these steps to become a video game designer:
1. Familiarise yourself with video games
To become a video game designer, it is beneficial to spend some time playing various video games, critiquing them and talking about them with others. Communicate with the gaming community and participate in forums to stay updated on the latest developments in the industry. When you play video games, try to understand how different components work and analyse the experience critically. Think about what you like or dislike in a game, and identify areas where the experience can be better. Try to analyse and understand the multitude of decisions that designers make during the development process.
2. Pursue formal education
Although most game companies value work experience over formal education, having a degree or diploma can make you a competitive candidate. Here are some courses that can help you develop the skills and knowledge required for game design:
B.Des. (Bachelor of Design) in graphic design
B.Des. in animation
B.Sc. (Bachelor of Science) in graphics, animation & gaming
BTech (Bachelor of Technology) in computer science and game development
BTech in computer science engineering
BA (Bachelor of Arts) in interactive entertainment
BA in digital filmmaking & animation
M.Des. (Master of Design) in toy and game design
M.Des. in new media design
M.Des. in digital game design
M.Sc. (Master of Science) in multimedia and animation
M.Sc. in game design and development
Advanced diploma in game design and application development
While some of these degrees cater specifically to aspiring game designers, you can also enter the job market with a degree in a relevant field like art, communications or business. You may, however, need to find other opportunities to improve your technical skills and gain industry experience.
Related: How To Share Your Education Background
3. Acquire work experience
Internships in game development companies can prove beneficial, as they allow you to work in a studio alongside experienced designers. You can learn by watching, assisting or following the instructions of a mentor or team leader. You can also choose to become a freelancer or seek remote work for international companies. Game developers outsource a variety of work, ranging from coding to animation and storyboarding. With a little experience, you can apply for entry-level positions like a game tester. This can give you valuable insights into the work culture and prepare you for designer and developer positions.
Related: How To Write Work Experience on Your CV
4. Build your portfolio
In your free time, prepare a digital portfolio of your best works to share with potential employers and clients. Your work samples may come from internships, work experiences or from personal explorations. Many video game designers start by redesigning or modifying games they are familiar with. As a thought experiment, you might take a game that you enjoy and write a different ending or edit the game mechanics. You can also add work related to associated practices like storyboarding, animation, illustration, 3D modelling and rendering.
5. Apply for jobs
Before you apply for an entry-level game design position, carefully check the job description and requirements to see if you have the skills and experience the employer is looking for. Sometimes, you may need to tailor your resume to match the job description. Highlight relevant work experience, promote relevant skills, attach your portfolio and write a cover letter to express your interest in the opportunity.
Related: How To Apply For a Job In 6 Steps (With Tips)
Is it hard to become a game designer?
As a game designer, you may spend a significant amount of time in front of a screen. This is essentially a desk job where you may have to sit for hours on a task. Work pressure can be high when you are close to deadlines and you may need to work tight schedules and additional shifts. However, this can be an interesting and rewarding career if you have a passion for it. It is a platform for imagination and creativity, with endless opportunities for making original content. The game development sector is rapidly growing and producing an increasing number of job opportunities every year.
How much do game designers make?
The average base salary of a game designer is ₹3,27,509 per year. As you gain experience and improve your portfolio, your salary prospects can improve greatly. Professional game designers who work for reputed game development companies are paid attractive salaries. This profession pays significantly higher in developed economies.
These are some of the primary employment sectors for game designers:
Game development companies
Trade and retail organisations
Museums and galleries
Game designing may include various job roles like:
Game animator: Game animators are responsible for creating interactive animated images using specialised digital tools. They create movements for characters, vehicles and other components in games to add personality, emotion and realism.
Game programmer: A game programmer is a software professional who uses code to create programs that smartphones, computers and consoles can read. They work alongside designers to execute concepts using a back-end framework.
Creative director: These professionals are responsible for creating the game concept. A creative game director monitors if a project is moving on schedule and according to plan.
Game marketer: A game marketer is a professional who creates marketing campaigns that appeal to the target audience of a game. They work with a number of clients to boost game sales using effective advertising strategies.
Game system designer: These professionals coordinate with producers, programmers and other professionals to develop feasible game functions and interfaces. They are responsible for analysing the scope of a game and launching it across multiple platforms.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
Explore more articles
- Guide: What Is a General Manager? (Plus How To Become One)
- Project Architect Vs. Project Manager: Find The Difference
- How To Become A Motivational Speaker (With Necessary Skills)
- What Does A Transcriber Do? (With Salary, Skills and FAQs)
- What Does A Delivery Person Do? (Plus Skills and Salary)
- 19 Freelance Writing Jobs For Teenagers (With Salaries)
- 12 Popular Surveying Careers (With Salary Info And Duties)
- Purchasing Manager Skills: Examples Plus How To Highlight
- Crime Scene Technician Vs. Crime Scene Investigator
- What Is an HR Generalist? (Duties, Skills and Career Path)
- How To Determine Which Tableau Certification Is Good For You
- What Are Apprenticeships In Carpentry? (And How To Pursue)