Be a game designer

Being a game designer is probably the dream of most teenagers. Although they might not grasp what exactly goes into this process, who wouldn’t want to work with games all day.

Why not pursue it? While this might have only been a pipe dream when I was growing up, the possibilities in gaming and tech are growing rapidly.

With visions of a high tech future where we’ll be escaping reality through gaming and virtual reality. Games are being used more and more in education, learning and testing. The prospects in this field of STEM careers might just be the way to go. Although imagination, passion and creativity might be a great start, there is a lot more to being a game designer.

Become a game designer. Person playing game on TV with game controller


What is a game designer

Game design is the art of using design to create a game. This can be for various purposes. It can also be in various formats, like physical games, virtual games, board games etc.  Of course, when I think of games, it’s for entertainment, but recently the process of gamification has grown to other fields.

Game design is used in all these fields:

  • Entertainment – ‘video games’, casino games
  • Education – educational games, board games
  • Training – simulations, war games,
  • Psychology – game-based-assessment, role play

Game design, in fact, forms a part of game studies or ludology. Game studies, in turn, refer to the study of the games, the players and their culture. Therefore it involves more than just design, imagination and passion. Instead, game studies also involve sociology, psychology and cultural heritage.

There are three main approaches to game studies:

  1. Social Science approach
  2. Folklore approach
  3. Industrial and engineering approach

From a STEM perspective, I will be looking at the industrial and engineering approach. This approach focuses mostly on video games and not other forms of games. It, therefore, involves computer graphics, artificial intelligence and computer programming.

The benefits of gaming are being shown in more and more areas. Therefore the growth in the industry is only expected to increase and spread across other fields.

In a nutshell, game designers create interactive worlds for the player or user to inhabit.


A day in the life of a game designer

Although game design seems like the best job ever. It does involve a lot of hard work (and play). It seems like although the normal workday is within office hours, playing has no office hours. The average workweek of a game designer is reported to be around 35 hours. This may, however, be more when deadlines are looming.

Most of the workday is spent at a desk or in meetings. A large percentage (some say the majority) of game designers identify as self-employed. An even larger percentage work remotely at least some of the time.


Game designer career skills and responsibilities

Depending on the career duties of a specific game designer, there are many skills associated with this career. These include:

  • Code writing & programming skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Verbal communication skills
  • Written communication skills
  • Organisational skills
  • Teamwork
  • Systems analysis
  • Critical thinking
  • Time management
  • Active learning
  • Selective attention


Game design career qualifications

Education requirements for a game designer would depend on the career duties and industry of the game designer. There are various colleges and even universities that offer courses and even degrees in game design. However, a degree in Computer Science and knowledge or experience with a 3D modelling program like Maya or 3D Max might become essential for you to be taken seriously.


Game Designer career salary expectation

According to Glassdoor, the national average base salary for a design manager is £30 000. This figure is only based on 48 salaries submitted. This will obviously vary greatly according to the industry, workload and location.


Finding employment

Although career direction is still in its infant years, it is growing fast.  Here are some of the websites you can find these.

Glassdoor

Gamesindustry.biz

Monster

Also, keep an eye on our STEM career guides page for a more detailed look at different top jobs in the UK.

External links and associations

International Game Developers Association (IGDA)