This question is directed to the people who work in an official - not indie - video game companies.
I'm a young dude, who would like to be a game designer, I think I have the right potential but have no idea how to execute it.
That's why I making this thread and asking about the job requirements, the institutions I should apply for, experience I should already have, and such.
Any help will be grateful,
Excellent question. I second the recommendation to not only watch this episode of Extra Credits, but to watch as much of the series as you can
. It's a freely available resource and James Portnow gives a lot of really great advice. This episode is spot-on.
The requirements do vary from company to company, so I'm going to focus on the core of design that doesn't vary. Take this as a supplement
to this episode of Extra Credits.
"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works
." - Steve Jobs
The primary skill is design
. It's not about coming up with ideas or stories, it's about designing systems
. Mechanically, all games are an interesting system to explore. You need to be able to see how the parts of a system interact in able to craft systems that are fun to explore. Due to this, I highly recommend studying some systems thinking
if you intend to get into game design. It will help you understand and map out how the game's internal economies and mechanics function and make it easier to spot imbalances or problems in the design of a system.
The best way to learn how game systems and mechanics interact with each other is to play with them. This means playing games as a designer
, and it also involves tweaking rules. The fastest way to start doing this is with board games and card games. In fact, board games & card games are a great starting point for studying the design of games because you can literally deconstruct them to examine how everything interacts. For example, in Monopoly you could change the ratio of beneficial chance cards to detrimental chance cards, change the amount of money earned each time you pass go, change the amount of money properties cost or earn, etc. When changing a rule to see how the change alters the way the game plays, only change them one rule at a time. This way, you can be absolutely which change produced which result.There is a lot of competition for design jobs
, so most companies are now looking for designers that have successfully shipped a game. I'm not just talking about following a pygame or unity tutorial - I'm talking about building a complete game and getting it approved by certification at Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo. It's a bit of a catch-22: If you want to make games professionally, you must first make games.
For your first forays into digital game development, you should start small. Pong small. Breakout small. Don't go beyond 2 dimensions yet. The classic mistake that every developer makes with their first game is trying something too big and not realizing how big it was going to be. Find some friends that want to make games and work on some small arcade-style games together. Even if your first 5 attempts to make a game fail, you'll still have 5 times the experience of that other applicant that just has some good ideas. Many places are also looking for designers that have branched out from pure design. Designers that have art or programming experience (especially programming experience) have an edge over a pure designer when applying for a design job.
I'm going to recommend a few good books for beginners, as well:
- Challenges for Game Designers by Brenda Brathwaite & Ian Schreiber - this book is an excellent workbook filled with game design challenges and design problems to explore with paper prototypes, card games, and board games. It lets you get design practice without needing programming or art experience. It's perfect for the beginning game designer that wants to get their hands dirty playing with game mechanics.
- Fundamentals of Game Design by Ernest Adams - Ernest was my introduction to game design, and his book is a great foundation of knowledge to build upon.
- Game Design Workshop by Tracy Fullerton - Another great introductory book with a focus on prototyping and playtesting early and often in the course of designing a game.
These are the main 3 that I recommend for beginners and they provide you with a great foundation to build upon.
Also, you should participate in the Global Game Jam
in January. I did my first game jam at the end of last month and it was an amazing experience to build a complete game in 48 hours or less.