Friday, December 01, 2006

How to get a job as a Game Designer

Being a game designer can be a very creative pursuit. Spending time thinking about how to engage the player, building it, and then getting feedback from players is great fun.

So what’s a good way of going about getting a job as a games designer?

  • There’s no standard academic route in, like programming and art, though a degree in something wouldn’t hurt.
  • One, not uncommon, route is to work as a games tester, and to work on getting promoted up. If you show an interest, someone will hopefully get you set up with the tools, so you can learn them and show off what you can do.
  • Similar to my recommendations for programmers, doing demos is a great way in. Download free editors for PC games. Design and build your level. Publish it on the internet for others to play, and then check out the feedback.
  • From your demo work you should be able to show paper maps, screen shots of the editor and game, and links to your published level and its feedback.
  • You can put all your demo work on a website to show off your work. Also, putting it on a website will demonstrate important skills of technical literacy and good presentation.
  • Doing several demos, to cover different game genres, is a good idea.
  • Play lots of games, and think analytically about them. Why are they fun? How could they be better? How do they handle a range of skill levels? What editor tools would have been needed to create the game.
  • Play lots of different games. The more the better. Don’t just play good games, play bad ones, and play random ones so you can make your own mind up without the suggestions of others.
  • There are also plenty of books on game design now. You may benefit from reading a good book on the subject.

I can’t guarantee it, but if you do all the above with some dedication, then you shouldn’t have too much difficulty getting your foot in the door. In fact, some companies who release editors will actively recruit from the pool of hobbyists who are already building levels with their software.

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