Hi, I'm not sure if this will help you at all, because I'm a European author of (non video) games, but hey, you can just ignore me.
My name is Víktor Bautista i Roca and right now I work for no company. Here you can see some of the games I've authored http://boardgamegeek...bautista-i-roca
1) What initially interested you in game design?
I've always enjoyed playing. And one they I realised I could not just play, but create my own games.
2) What is the education/training needed?
In my field most people come from an educational background or have some maths formation. The later in my case, I'm a computer engineer.
3) What are you responsibilities as a game designer?
It depends. There are usually three different kinds of jobs (I've done the three)
a) Work as a freelance and create the game you want. Here you have to create the game, test it a lot, try to make a nice working prototype (no need for great drawings and build quality, but it helps), test it even more, write very understandable rules, and either present it to as many editors as you can, or present it to game contests.
b) Some company, institution... wants a game to promote themself or some idea. You must meet them, understand what they want to communicate, discuss with them some ideas, create the game, test it and, depending on the case, contact an artist to illustrate it and create the artwork and a manufacturer to make it.
c) A game's company asks you for a concrete game, as it could be: make a game about Dora the explorer, for kids 3-6. Or a game that will use this cheap material we can buy in China. Or a game following this TV quiz show... In this case you don't have as much liberty, here usually you just give the idea, write the first rules and test it slightly. The rest, the game's company will do.
4) What are the advantages of being a game designer?
Mostly, the satisfaction of seing someone playing one of your games and enjoying it. I guess it's like a writer who knows people enjoys their books, or a musician or someone similar.
5) What are the disadvantages?
If you just work for yourself, it's very hard to get your games published. Maybe for every ten games you create only one will get published (even less at the begining). You must make yourself a name. Be known by the editors.
If you work for others, having to accept their decisions. Game companies usually want crappy games, not innovative or interesting enough. And companies, institutions, whatever, usually don't have a clear idea of what they really want, but some times this allow you to create really nice things.
6) How do government laws / regulations effect your career?
I don't think they Affect it in any particular way.
7) Any advice you would give for someone trying to become a game designer.
Play a lot, know the market, be creative, have a group of friends who will test your games but who are not afraid to tell you your game sucks if it is so, know other authors, coauthor games... Also, take a small notebook (a paper one) always with you and keep writing down every idea you have, doesn't matter how nonsensical it is.
By the way, almost for sure your first games will suck. REALLY SUCK. Go over it and keep creating.
I hope this helps.
I just want to say good post!
And to those that never believe or pay any respect to my opinions and views just because they see a negative reputation..
This guy is an example of what I said in my first post.
You have to do a lot more than just game design.. this guy knows how to and does art for the game and even knows how to program his own prototypes which is actually not that easy and I would take a guess it's just as hard as making a complete game just that making a complete game takes ofcourse a million times more time..
Even with game maker it takes a lot of work and experience in game programming to make a prototype for a game.
He does it all by himself too... programming.. art.. game design.
Once again, good post.