What Do Game Designers Do? A Complete Guide

Post date :

Jan 26, 2024

Discover what it means to be a game designer. In this blog post, learn what game designers do, their skills, specializations, average salary expectations, and how you can become a game designer.

What is a Video Game Designer?

A video game designer is a professional responsible for conceptualizing and crafting the core elements that shape a video game. They design the gameplay mechanics, levels, characters, storylines, and overall player experience. 

Game designers create the vision and structure of the game, focusing on how it feels to play, the challenges it presents, and the emotions it evokes in players. They often work closely with developers, artists, and other team members to bring their ideas to life, ensuring that the game is engaging, balanced, and enjoyable for the players.

What Do Video Game Designers Actually Do?

Digging a little deeper into the role of game designer, what you actually do day-to-day will depend a lot on the size of the studio, the type of games, and the structure of the team. At smaller companies, you might be responsible for every aspect of design, from systems and gameplay, to quests and user experience (UX). While at larger studios you may specialize in only one of those aspects.

The Difference Between a Game Designer And a Developer

A video game developer and a video game designer play distinct yet interconnected roles in the creation of a video game.

As you now know, a video game designer is focused on the ideation and creative aspects of the game. They craft the game's concept, storyline, characters, levels, and overall gameplay experience. To do this, designers often create game prototypes, design documents, and storyboards to illustrate their ideas.

The video game developer is primarily responsible for the technical aspects of game creation, focusing on coding, programming, and implementing the game's mechanics, systems, and functionalities. To learn more about the role, read our blog “How to Become a Game Developer”.

Key Game Designer Skills

While your responsibilities as a game designer may vary between studios, there are certain skill sets you will definitely want to showcase on your resume. Some of these skills include:

Creative Thinking: Creativity is the cornerstone of game design. Demonstrate to employers that you strive to push boundaries with your original and captivating game concepts and mechanics.

Storytelling: This entails creating relatable characters, intricate plotlines, and meaningful choices. Effective storytelling captivates players emotionally and invests them in the game's outcome. Improve your storytelling skills by reading a variety of genres and subjects, practicing writing regularly, studying narrative techniques, and seeking constructive feedback.

Prototyping Using Game Engines: Game designers create numerous wireframes or prototypes to assess the functionality of game mechanics. These prototypes play a pivotal role in the game development process, allowing studios to save resources by testing ideas before investing in the final polished game.

Game Design Principles: Studying design principles and, more importantly, applying them, will enable you to create engaging challenges, balance difficulty levels, and ensure a smooth player experience.

Communication: Game development is a collaborative process involving various professionals such as artists, programmers, writers, sound designers, and more. Effective communication enables you to convey your ideas clearly, understand others' perspectives, and seamlessly work together to bring a game to life.

Public Speaking: Game designers need to pitch their game concepts and ideas to team members and stakeholders. Strong public speaking skills enable you to articulate your vision, justify design choices, and generate enthusiasm for the project.

Analysis and Synthesis: Game designers must effectively analyze and synthesize information. This involves the ability to break down complex data, draw meaningful insights from it, and then translate those insights into actionable tasks to improve the game.

Additional skills include:

  • Flexibility

  • Collaboration

  • Project management

  • Narrative design

  • Level design

  • Time management

  • Leadership

  • Player psychology

  • Player engagement

Average Salary

It depends. Your potential salary varies based on several factors, such as the type of work, employer, level of experience, as well as country and city. Here are some average base salaries of game designers.

How to Become a Game Designer

1. Get a bachelor's degree

Employers may consider applicants with a bachelor's degree in computer science, business, or a related field. A typical bachelor’s degree takes between four to five years to complete.

2. Independent learning

When beginning a new journey or transitioning careers, it's crucial to grow your skill set and knowledge base. Read books, blogs and articles, listen to podcasts, and watch tutorial videos. Note that the effectiveness of this option depends on your preferred learning style.

3. Build your portfolio

Show off your work with links to the games you designed and ones you are in the process of making. Quick tip, include your contact information, resume, and reviews of your games (if possible).

4. Gain work experience

Work experience is the most effective option, and possibly the hardest to execute. If you have work experience in another job, highlight how your skills in that job are transferable to a game designer position. Whether you are looking to switch careers or just starting out, four, eight, and twelve-month internships are an excellent way to gain relevant experience.

5. Earn a certification

A game design certificate program can provide you with the advantage necessary to secure a competitive position as a video game designer. You'll follow a well-defined educational path to acquire vital skills, benefit from the guidance of experienced game designers, create a project portfolio, and obtain a certification from a reputable institution.

Game Design Bootcamp With University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies

Interested in turning your passion for games into a career in game design? Consider our Game Design Bootcamp! In collaboration with Circuit Stream, this bootcamp covers topics like game design fundamentals, prototyping with Unreal Engine, game concept development, gameplay design, and game user experience.

© Circuit Stream.
This course is delivered by Circuit Stream in collaboration with the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.

© Circuit Stream.
This course is delivered by Circuit Stream in collaboration with the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.

© Circuit Stream.
This course is delivered by Circuit Stream in collaboration with the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.