Game Designer: Turning Your Passion for Games into a Full-time Career

Did you know?

According to Newzoo, in 2020, the global games market is set to generate revenue of USD 159.3 billion.

Did you, as a child, spend time being fascinated by the intriguing characters and exciting storyline of video games and dreamt of being the brain behind developing them? Although games are designed for fun and entertainment, developing them is a serious business. A lot of creative brains are involved in developing a game. So, did you ever think about getting into this field?

The gaming industry has certainly matured and evolved over the years; however, a career in the gaming industry remains a nontraditional choice. Today, it is rife with employment opportunities, be it a programmer, gaming designer, artists, graphic designer or an audio programmer, or a game tester. If you think that a career in game designing can be your cup of tea, it is possible to embrace this as a full-time profession. Here’s a brief guide on how you can:

How to gain entry into game designing?

While there are multiple career opportunities in game designing, your role will differ as per the educational background you have. For being a game developer, the following degrees may help:

  • Associate Degree;

An associate degree typically prepares you for entry-level career opportunities in game designing, visualization, and animation in various digital media production houses.

  • Bachelor’s Degree;

This will give an extra edge over an associate degree, imparting an advanced level of training related to 2D or 3D animation and the latest gaming programs in this field. It will prepare you for a career as a video game programmer, designer, technical artist, and visual effects animator.

  • Master’s Degree;

Although not so popular, you may even opt for a Master’s degree, which will prepare you to undertake leadership positions such as a project manager in game designing.

A degree in computer science may also help you bag an opportunity as a game programmer. Many training programs will help you enhance your portfolio to make you job-ready. Knowledge in programming languages such as Python and Lua is necessary.

What Are the Skillsets Required?

Apart from an educational background, a game designer requires the following skill sets:

  • Creativity: the ability to breathe life into characters;
  • Analytical thinking;
  • Excellent networking skills as a lot of collaboration is required;
  • Good communication as you’ll be required to pitch your ideas;
  • Problem-solving attitude.

To sum up, a game designer should exhibit a combo of artistic and technical knowledge.

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How Will Your Life Be as A Game designer?

Life as a game designer is pretty exciting and challenging as this does not involve a typical desktop job, which is often monotonous in nature. Here’s how a typical day in the life of a game designer will look like:

Fun fact! There is no ‘typical day’ in the life of a game designer as every day will bring up different tasks, dependent on the project on which the designer is working. Just to give you a brief overview, here’s what responsibilities of a game designer may include:

  • Working on a new idea and conceptualizing it, which will involve collaborating with a lot of teams and people.
  • Even an established and popular game requires upgrades, else it is destined to be doomed. Tasks may involve designing newer features, upgrading the look of the game, enhancing other elements of the game, etc.
  • Apart from this, advertising and promotional campaigns are equally important in this industry. After the development of the final output, you may be required to invest time in developing an animated promotional campaign, which will sell your story.
  • Conducting quality control, editing, and other allied activities.

What are their biggest challenges?

Even though a lot of love playing video games and would even want to choose this as a profession, there is still much to be done when it comes to awareness about this industry. A lot of information related to this field is mostly unstructured in nature. Lack of stability and critical challenges often discourage prospective students from opting for this profession. These are the common challenges faced typically by a gaming designer.

  • Lack of resources;

A project may get shelved due to a lack of availability of financial resources and time crunch. Staff may have to put in more working hours in such cases.

Also, stringent deadlines that require creativity may make it difficult for designers to work as per their ideas. Often, as they delve deeper, new ideas are discovered to enhance the look of the game; however, they have to be curtailed simply due to lack of time.

  • Success factor;

Much depends on the popularity of these games. While a popular game will earn high dividends, if a game is unsuccessful, it may lead to huge financial losses.

  • Not achieving the desired outcome;

While many ambitious designers have a final output in mind, it is not always possible to achieve the desired outcome due to many factors such as lack of time, technical issues, or on rare occasions, simply due to a creative block.

Advice for breaking into the industry

Firstly, start finding what piques your interest the most in this industry: designing, programming, illustrating, or project management. Accordingly, start building a portfolio by getting involved in the process. Get an internship or develop your own simple digital game using tools easily available. Most employers get impressed with those who have had hands-on experience in this field. Even if you do not have a formal education in this field, a little experience such as participating in a gaming club that develops games may come handy. And of course, do not forget to play a lot of video games, as that will provide you with insights on how the end-user experience will be.

To conclude, this profession is strictly for those passionate for games and understand the challenges associated with being one. Although nontraditional, the gaming industry is growing at a fast rate, due to the growing popularity of its smaller segment, mobile gaming, thanks to the introduction of smartphones. According to PayScale, the average median wage of a game developer is USD 104,326. In fact, the recent pandemic has contributed to increased consumer spending on games. As the world embraces new technologies, a career in the gaming industry will no longer remain unpopular, like earlier times.