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How do you decide on a career in Game Design


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#1 Albena   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 04:03 PM

I am an MA in Design student. As part of my thesis, I am looking at the expectations young people have about the career opportunities in the game industry, how they perceive the skills needed to become successful in the field, and how they decide on their college major. I have created a short survey on SurveyMonkey. It takes only about 30 seconds to complete. I would appreciate it if you help me by responding to the questions. Here is the link for the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5CMDHHS Any other comments and suggestions are also welcome. Thank you. Albena

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#2 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 29568

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 04:14 PM

With your statements questions like "You are a creative person" or "Your dream is to become an Interior Designer", do you expect people to give hypothetical answers if those statements aren't true, or to skip the question?


"Game design" is a very specific position within a games development company. It has little to do with visual design, art or programming. So in response to question #2, I'd answer "neither" :/

#3 Albena   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 05:50 PM

Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I made some changes to the survey in order to hopefully make it more useful :)

As far as what Game Design really is, this seems to be a very broad question with many and changing answers. What attracted my attention was that the Game Design had originally started as a very narrow, strictly technical area, mostly related to computer science, software engineering, and visualization. Since then the area has exploded and now people seem to include a large variety of sub-fields, many of them non-technical.

I don't have an industry experience and am getting most of my information from literature and online resources. I am really looking forward to getting feedback from people with experience. This will be equally or even more important than building my impressions about the field from textbooks.

#4 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 29568

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 06:12 PM

Game design existed before video games -- a game designer has always been someone who designs game-play. It's about creating the rules of the game, not anything technical like engineering the actual software that implements the rules, or carving the dice, or drawing pictures on the cardboard tokens. For example, people who came up with rules for Dungeons and Dragons, Monopoly and Magic the Gathering are examples of modern non-video-game game designers.

When video game development teams were small, the designer might have coincidentally also been a technical engineer or an artist, but that does not mean that engineering or art are related to game design -- it just means teams and budgets were small and they couldn't justify dedicating one person to game design. Video-game development as a profession was just in it's infancy, so you also saw programmers doing artwork, but that doesn't make art part of computer science ;)


In response to question #5, how come "Game designer" isn't listed there??

Also, in response to question #3, the Level Designers at work only design the pacing, layout and mechanics of a level. They don't care about the look or feel - we have artists to take care of that based on what the designers give them.

I've seen a very experienced level designer drum this lesson into some junior staff by asking them how they would convert their space-ship level design into a design for a swamp level. To answer his own question, he then took their overhead plans of the space-ship's corridors, and simply crossed out the word "space ship" and wrote "swamp" there instead.


So you've got at least 3 distinct streams here.
Design - distil the rules/mechanics of the game-play (tells everyone else what they're doing).
Art - builds the characters, and locations required by design.
Programming - makes it all come to life and follow the rules on a console/computer.

Each of these can be split up a lot. E.g. concept artists paint pictures based on work by the game/level designers, which environment or character artists might use as reference when doing their 3D modelling.

[Edited by - Hodgman on December 8, 2009 12:12:51 AM]

#5 Fuji   Members   -  Reputation: 205

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 05:03 AM

What if I can do level design and character design but DON'T want to be an interior designer or am interested in fashion?

#6 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9605

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 07:26 AM

Quote:
Original post by Fuji
What if I can do level design and character design but DON'T want to be an interior designer or am interested in fashion?

You're going to have to explain that question.
Why are you asking this?
What is it you're hoping to find out?

Lastly, it appears that you have posted a question that veers off from the topic at hand (that you've "hijacked the thread"); that you should have started a new thread for this question.

-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#7 Fuji   Members   -  Reputation: 205

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 07:45 AM

No, two of the questions on the survey reference those topics compared to careers in game design. One question is something similar to "Do you have good visual-spatial skills? DO you want to be an interior designer? If you could do this on a computer, would you go into level design?" Thus, it's relevant.

#8 jmau0438   Members   -  Reputation: 134

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 08:03 AM

I don't think you understand what a game designer really is. You really can't compare it to visual design of any sort. The process is more like creative logic than artistic skill. Much of what a game designer does revolves around communication, so lingusitics and organization are important aspects as well. Before you go any further, try defining what a game designer is on a piece of paper. Once you do, re-examine your survey and see if you questions are in line with your goal.

Remindes me of something someone once told me: "The danger in naming a thing is that you no longer question it."

#9 Palidine   Members   -  Reputation: 1279

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 08:20 AM

Quote:
Original post by jmau0438
I don't think you understand what a game designer really is. You really can't compare it to visual design of any sort.


That's not really true for video game designers. I agree the job is much more than space design, but composing a level has very much to do with spatial reasoning. The sizing and shape of spaces have a very intimate connection with how combat plays out in that space and are very important for giving the player clues about where to go next and such. While not aesthetic visual design, certainly, it does require good spatial reasoning (a funny anecdote is that at my last office we used to play "point to <someone>'s cubicle" from random places in our building that didn't have line-of-sight: different floors, opposite side of floor, whatever. most designers were insanely better at this game than any other discipline)

However, though important, I will agree that it is certainly not the only component. Game design is a job very much about knowing games and knowing players. How do you cue players to run in a particular direction, how do you pace the level/game so it's the right amount of action/exploration and a good balance of anxiety/calm. There's also the mechanics design part which is shared with the board game designers previously mentioned.

Albena, a good analogy for Game Designer is combination of Movie Director, Building Architect and Behavioral Psychologist.

But of utmost importance is that the designer has and does play a crapton of games.

-me

#10 jmau0438   Members   -  Reputation: 134

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 04:20 PM

Quote:
I agree the job is much more than space design, but composing a level has very much to do with spatial reasoning.


That's level design

Quote:
However, though important, I will agree that it is certainly not the only component. Game design is a job very much about knowing games and knowing players. How do you cue players to run in a particular direction, how do you pace the level/game so it's the right amount of action/exploration and a good balance of anxiety/calm. There's also the mechanics design part which is shared with the board game designers previously mentioned.


Key part in this is "mechanic". A designer identifies and describes mechanics. Although a game designer may identify certain abilities that can be performed within a level (scaling walls, hanging off edges, ect.), its layout is irrelivant to a game designer. What you can do and how you do it, that's what matters to them.

#11 Shadownami92   Members   -  Reputation: 144

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Posted 09 December 2009 - 08:40 PM

The survey is worded pretty strange. It seems as if you bundle 2 or 3 questions into each category and I don't really see any sort of questions that deal with writing.

When I think of game design, I generally think of the creation of the game design document. This is words and diagrams most of the time and concept art is bundled with it, but even those concepts usually spawn from something written in the game document.

I would say that game design isn't something you can say an artist would be good with, rather than someone who can create or design a good game by means of knowing what you want, how you want it and being able to use creativity along with the knowledge of technical aspects and limitations to design the overall game.

If you have the skills for level design, then you are a level designer, and your designs will generally be created by using the previously made and broader game design as reference.

But is a level designer technically a game designer? Maybe however if you argue that they are because they must be able to make the game enjoyable my using space well that would fit the gameplay, your really just saying that your trying to make a level that is built around the limitations and specifications given to you that tell you exactly how the space is expected to be used for a certain type of gameplay.

At least that's how I see the position of game designer. Overall a game designer's skills don't have to be in being able to use space well or artistic ability. But rather creativity as well as knowledge of the subject and being able to organize it in a manner that other game developers of different types can easily understand what your asking for and start to make the game document reality.

Of course it does help if the game designer also fits into another job because then they can help give actual examples of what they were thinking of for the game design.

Honestly I think that while it may be easy to find a good artist, musician or programmer. It's actually somewhat hard to find a good game designer that can organize a well made game document and really come up with something...well, well designed.




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