Your obsession with playing games knows no bounds – but what about creating them as a game designer? Whether you’ve established yourself as a junior designer, or you’re looking into becoming a game designer, it’s good to know what studios are looking for. We’ll unravel the top 3 qualities studios will be looking for when hiring a game designer.
1. Create games because you need to, not because you want to.
“I never really had the fun teens of exploring the world because I was sitting at home, learning programming.” – Markus “Notch” Persson (Minecraft, Mojang)
The most important thing is to have passion for not only games, but game development. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting out as a junior developer, or a veteran that’s been a part of the gaming industry for over 20 years – your passion for games should never wane. No matter how many projects you worked on that have been canceled, or if you just launched your first title on Steam, it’s easy to be discouraged from continuing as a professional in this industry. With that said, working in games can get stressful, but where does the extent of your passion for creating games lie? Really think about why you create games and why people play them. Chances are, if you overall can find enjoyment in game development, the people will find enjoyment in playing your game, too. You can’t fake passion.
2. Balance of technicality and creativity is key.
“To create a new standard, you have to be up for that challenge and really enjoy it.” – Shigeru Miyamoto
In game development, creative integrity is innovation. Getting rid of the idea of what’s “safe” and embracing the freedom of creativity is something not always learned or understood. Always thrive on new ideas – but think about how you would apply those ideas into a gaming experience. How will players interact and enjoy the experience that you’ve created? The designer spends significant amounts of time in the planning phase: writing detailed documents specifying game mechanics, environments, playable characteristics and art direction. All game designers bring a combination of skills. From being the person with creative vision, to someone who works out the logic in systems, one question should always be at the forefront: is it fun? Your goal in games should be to make a fun experience for the player.
3. You’re making a game for you – and for people that are just like you.
“Always back your team.” – James Flatmo (Game Design & Production Instructor, TEDx Speaker)
Creating the game you’ve always wanted to play is the goal, but you will be working with others that seldom share the same creative direction. Becoming a team leader doesn’t happen overnight, and there will be tons of times where you will disagree with your fellow student, co-worker, or even your mentor. While the object of game design is to make it fun, “fun” is subjective and up to the player to decide.
However, creating synergy among your team helps support design decision-making and preventing feature creep, especially if your game faces time constraints. After all, the desires of a story-based gaming fan will be different than fans of first-person shooter games. Communicating your ideas effectively goes beyond a formal education, but this can be learned in time in a studio environment. Having the ability to pitch your game with your team needs to maintain a cohesive message. No matter what, a fun game is universally understood, and only then can the design be mutually agreed among your team.