How to become a game designer
Begin your career in video game design
- Earn a bachelor degree in game design, animation, programming or computer science.
- Work on your own game projects. Focus on building a strong portfolio of work.
- Look for studios offering graduate programs or bootcamps so you can gain experience in the industry. Positions are competitive, so you may need to get your foot in the door through another role, like quality assurance (QA) testing.
- Join online game development groups or Meetups to build your network. Tsumea is a great resource for finding job opportunities.
What is a game designer?
Think of a game designer as the director of a video game’s production. They come up with the concept for the game, and then make this vision a reality through their artistic and technical expertise. It’s their responsibility to ensure different gameplay elements are working smoothly and that players will be entertained.
What does a game designer do?
The day-to-day role of a game designer can vary. Designers who are employed by indie studios are often generalists who lead all aspects of the game development process, from world design to game rules. While they don’t need to be programmers or project managers, they may take on these tasks when resources are limited, or they want total creative control.
Game designers employed by larger companies, on the other hand, tend to specialise in one aspect of game design only. The main specialisations are level design, world design, content design, system design and user interface design. It’s also common to specialise in a particular platform, like PlayStation or Xbox.
Duties and tasks
A game designer is typically responsible for:
- developing initial game concepts
- proposing game rules, visuals, storylines, characters, level quests or missions
- writing clear game design documentation for implementation by other team members
- collaborating with other designers, engineers, product teams, programmers and artists throughout the game design process
- creating design mock-ups, user interface wireframes or prototypes
- building elements of the game like levels or environments
- analysing how features will impact other parts of the game
- facilitating user testing sessions
- tracking player analytics to improve gameplay.
Game designer skills
If you have your heart set on a career as a game designer, you’ll need the following skills and knowledge to succeed in your role.
- A strong understanding of video games and the video game market
- An understanding of game engines like Unity 3D and Unreal Engine
- Basic programming knowledge
- Basic to advanced drawing skills and an understanding of design software
- An understanding of user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) in games
- Verbal communication skills
- Problem solving skills
- The ability to work as part of a team
- The ability to self-manage
Game designer salary
According to Payscale at the time of publishing, the average game designer salary in Australia is $69,000 a year.
However, this can increase with experience. Game designers who have been in the industry for over a decade can earn upwards of $85,000 a year.
- Game Workers Australia
- Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA)
- International Game Developers Association (IGDA)
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