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Albena

How do you decide on a career in Game Design

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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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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" :/

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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.

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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]

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

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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

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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.

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