Working as a Video Game Designer

If you love playing video games, then designing video games may be your dream job. As a video game designer, you’ll have the opportunity to create new mobile apps and console games.

What does a Video Game Designer do?

Your main objective as a video game designer is to:

  • Plan video games
  • Create video games
  • Design video games

Game Designer vs Game Developer

What’s the difference between game design and game development? The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they are actually two distinct career paths.

The role of a video game designer is more artistic and focused on how the frontend looks. A video game developer usually work on the more technical side, known as the backend.

While the two roles are distinct career paths, they are interlinked. A designer gives input and direction to a developer, which the developer then uses to create the game and gives suggestions back to the designer. A designer and developer work together to develop the best game possible.

These terms are similar to ones used in other industries. For example, a web designers handle the front-end graphics (how the site looks and feels), while a web developer works in the backend or on the ‘brains’ of the site.

Working for a Small Design Company

Video game designers who work for an “indie” or small design company usually juggle many responsibilities. Smaller gaming companies take a different approach to production than larger companies and require designers to do a large variety of different tasks over the course of production.

To excel at a small company requires an assortment of skills, including:

  • Technical skills
  • Artistic skills
  • Analytical skills

Finding Your Niche in a Big Company

Video game designers working for a big mainstream company will generally have a highly specialized role. Specializations can be narrowed down to cover almost every aspect of the game creation process. Highly specialized teams usually allow for faster turnaround of error-free games. The number of employees assigned to each specialty can vary from a few individuals to a few hundred individuals.

For example, a video game designer might work exclusively on the pre-production team, setting production schedule with clear goals and deadlines. A different designer working for the same company may be assigned to a team that handles writing aspects of the project. Another designer might work exclusively on sound effects.

What Role Suits You Best?

With so many specialities available, how can you decide which one to pursue? All aspects of video game design are exciting, but they each require a different skill set. Some require greater creativity and imagination, while others require sharp analytical and mathematical skills.

Content Design & Writing Team

Requirement: High levels of creativity

If you’re excited by the idea of conceptualizing a theme, backstory and settings for video games, this could be a great fit for you. This is a highly imaginative role that is all about vision and creativity. The content design team is responsible for creating the overall theme, dreaming up missions, designing obstacles and conceptualizing weapons.

Audio & Sound Design

Requirement: Good sense of hearing

If you have an especially good sense of hearing, you may be interested in working on the audio design and manipulation team. The audio team uses utilizes industry standard audio software and highly sophisticated computer programs- also called a digital audio workstations (DAW)- to create game sounds.

User Experience

Requirement: Math & computer programming

If you have have a passion for user interface design (menus and displays) or system design (rules and models that dictate game behaviour), then this might be a great fit. The User Experience team designs and implements features, while trying to avoid creating bugs in the game.

How to Get Started:

The best way get started in the video game design industry is by getting the right education. Game design is a competitive business, and in order to secure a position as a junior designer you’ll need to put yourself above the rest. With the right edge you’ll have no problem outshining the competition.

At Trillium College, our Video Game Design diploma program focuses on the artistic and transmedia skills required in this highly creative industry. You will learn how to take your graphics further and you’ll also learn the computer programming and problem-solving skills this industry requires.

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