Video games are one of the most interesting things that have ever been invented.
From the first pong game in the 20th century…
…to the now graphically intense, high-cost and high-quality multi-million dollar franchises that we see today, there has always been one thing in common, and that’s the designer.
Designing video games is perhaps what most 10-year old’s wanting to do with their lives but there are very few that actually pursue this as a career.
Believe it or not, unlike what’s normative, video game designing is a very good career path, especially for people who are passionate about it.
What does video game designing entail?
Video game designers are often team workers who basically create video games.
- setting the video game
- the story
- concepts character
- and programming.
There is a massive process that goes into each and every video game.
Video game designing is a vast field and you can join the quota as:
- a programmer for video games engines and mechanics etc.
- a digital artist
- sound director
- music composer
- story writer etc.
Looking at the average annual salary for multimedia artists and animators in 2015 which was
$70,300 we can conclude it is a very effective career path.
What are the basic requirements when becoming a video game designer?
A high school diploma or equivalent certificate is required.
Although, most companies give preference to people who have degrees in Video Game Design or Computer science and that is preferred.
The first step in becoming a video game designer is getting a Bachelor’s degree.
As mentioned before, getting a bachelor’s degree is important in this field but a minimum requirement is a high school diploma.
If you’re planning on entering a large video game development company (like Monolith games for instance) you will need to attend some school that offers a game design degree.
New and aspiring game designers can also get the relevant skills if they’ve completed their:
- Computer Science degree,
- Software Engineering degree
- or other related degree programs.
In game design degrees, your learning outcome will be 2D and 3D modeling along with:
- level design
- storyboard design
- team working
and many other small and larger things which go into video game production.
Is a degree an only important thing?
While getting a degree is more like safeguarding your future with a game company, just having a degree isn’t enough.
You need to not only have some skills related to the field, know your stuff from the inside and out and have relevant experience working on games.
Larger companies may give you internships to help work with them but that’s not always the case.
A lot of people who want to pursue this career usually work on smaller scale projects that may include some basic games just to get a feel for how it’s like.
This day and age, people gain experience by creating and publishing games on the many platforms that are available
Steam is one of those platforms where aspiring video game designers can:
- publish their newly created games
- get public feedback for them
- build up their CV when applying for larger gaming companies.
Other than this, there are many small-scale game projects which you can work on to gain experience and understand the ins and outs of developing video games in a real-world environment.
- Game design clubs
- small-scale developers
- own projects…
…among other things will give you just the amount of experience you need before applying for an internship or a job at a larger company.
Know your specialty
You need to know the different people with different sets of skills that come together to create a video game.
It isn’t always about the animators, the artists, and the programmers.
A video game is much more than just what’s on the surface and how good it looks, there is a lot of storytelling, dialogue writing etc. involved as well.
You can choose your career path in some of the following:
- Voice actor etc.
Remember, there are a lot of different type of designers as well. This may include:
- level designers
- lead designers
- story designers
- character designers
- and so on.
It’s a vast field with a vast number of branches which all come together to create a video game.
If you are good at a certain part of the video game development, then you can excel in that without a problem.
There is always room for good designers, animators, storytellers, story writers and so on.
But how do you know what you’re good at?
Well, it’s all about the experience. Everyone knows themselves and what they’re good at.
But, don’t limit yourself to that only.
Remember how that saying goes, “Jack of all trades a master of none, but still better than a master of one”.
Step 2 is determining your career path
There are different kinds of designers and professionals that work together to create a video game, each and everything has one or more specific person working.
For instance, when it comes to artists alone, there can be a dozen or more artists working on specific things at a time.
Character sketches, level sketches, 3d modeling etc. all have different people working on them.
Know what you want to be and where you want to fit in if you’re accepted at a large development company.
Be sure to know what you’re going for and what your pros and weaknesses are.
This will help you in understanding your line of work.
While there are a few jacks of all trades in the business, not everyone can master everything at once.
So, if you want to become an animator, master your skills through different methods that can include working with prospective designers and small businesses as well.
You can also try and create artists concepts for a different type of characters, beasts, levels etc. to test yourself and improve.
Do you know what you’re good at?
While a lot of people who go into video game design don’t really know what the different positions are available, you may wonder which skill you’re good at.
Creativity, for the most part, is what goes into video games and if you’re creative, then choosing video games as a career may actually be plausible.
Otherwise, going into such a field where they required open-minded, out of the box and creative artists, animators, programmers, and developers is pretty difficult to stay in.
There are aspiring video game designers who want to go into this field but aren’t proficient in design, artistry but are good in coding; so, they’ve actually held their own nicely.
In case you’re planning on coding for video game companies, you still need to be certain what kind of requirements the company needs, and which languages should you be proficient in.
Step 3 is gaining experience
Aspiring video game designers, fresh out of college with their degree may find it difficult to land jobs.
This is obvious especially considering that most high-level game developer companies will not hire new graduates with a lack of experience.
If you can’t score an internship at a larger company, then you have to get creative in order to gain relevant real-world experience and build up your CV to apply to a company later on.
Some of these ways may include working with smaller teams or creating your own team of developers that may include animators, programmers, artists etc. and work on a game yourself.
As mentioned before, steam has allowed new designers to publish their game and get helpful insight about their games.
Working in groups and teams will not only give you relevant experience about what it takes to develop video games…
…but it also gives you real-world and market strategy making skills that can be useful when you end up in a larger game development company.
Should you start your own studio?
While almost every game designer would want to do just that, it is a relatively difficult job for inexperienced graduates.
Not only is a payroll for your fellow developers required but there is also a need for equipment, a physical building and a structure for how your game should go.
It’s never easy developing video games, and creating a video game if you’re an inexperienced developer is even more difficult.
Gaining years of experience in a larger company is what most people do before deciding to start their own companies (very rare but it still happens).
Game Jams and game festivals
There are tons of game jams and indie festivals all over the world.
Being an indie developer is what a lot of new game designers end up doing.
Indie games basically refer to small developing studies (or even individual developers) who have to code, do the art for the game, animate, and design the sounds and everything else.
Going indie is perfect for gaining experience and working on games at the same time.
The best part is, you directly control what you want to do with your game, giving you freedom with your development cycle and finished product.
You can show off your games at these festivals and get noticed by larger companies.
It’s a great way of showing off your skills to the world and great to get internships as well.
Step 4 develop video games
There are tons of free and paid programs that can help students and fresh graduates to create their video game without needing to join a company.
Developing video games is a difficult job but programs such as game maker make it simple to design the game, giving you:
- modules of code
- a lot of stock files to work with
- and more features that make your job easy.
Alternatively, you can make your own video games from scratch using game engines and design, animate everything yourself.
This is a very difficult job to do yourself that is why going indie may be the best option for new designers for the most part (in case they don’t have internships or jobs yet).
Developing video games isn’t as easy as you’d think when pursuing this career.
But, if you do end up in a relatively large company then you will not only gain the relevant experience you need to develop video games but also, looking at the average salaries, secure your future as well.
It’s a very great field which is only getting better with age.
These days, whether you aspire to job development companies or whether you want to create a video game yourself (with a team) then getting into this field will be great for you.
Becoming a video game developer is still a relatively newer field, but it’s one which is accelerating tremendously.
In a few years, this field will become much more widespread with a lot more colleges and universities offering courses and degrees in different modules associated with game design.
If you’re someone who Is looking to go into it right now, there are tons of opportunities on the market along with the freedom of creating your own indie games and publishing them to the market.
There are no doubts that there is tons of competition on the market right now with steam getting thousands upon thousands of indie games every year.
For developers with unique and prominent skills and ideas for video games, then getting into larger companies isn’t as hard as some would make you believe.
Developing your skills is crucial in this field so you would be, effectively, an asset to any game development company that does hire you at the end.