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What Exactly Does a Video Game Designer Do?

Do you love playing video games? For gamers, becoming a video game designer sounds like a dream career. Designing games doesn’t mean that you get to play them, but it can still be a very rewarding career.

However, many people don’t know what a video game designer actually does. Before you decide to pursue a career in design, find out what your day-to-day work responsibilities will be. Here are some tasks you may end up handling at work if you become a game designer.

Conceptualizing Projects

All video games have to start with a concept. As a game designer, you might get the chance to help create concepts. If you choose to work as a self-employed designer, you might come up with concepts on your own. If you work at a studio, you’ll be working with a team of other designers.

Some people think being a game designer means coming up with ideas for games. The concept of a game is more than just a vague story idea. Game concepts include gameplay, layout, storylines, characters, scenarios, maps, difficulty levels, and other details. These concepts need to be very detailed. For example, designers have to determine small details like how fast characters can move and how high they can jump. Designers must be detail-oriented to come up with concepts on this level.

Designers at small studios may be involved with many or all aspects of the game’s concept. At larger studios, designers may have a more specialized role. For example, some designers might work on a team that’s only focus is the game’s map. Other teams at the studio will focus on other aspects of the game’s concept.

Bringing Concepts to Life

Part of a game designer’s job description is to communicate concepts to other people involved in bringing the game to life. Concepts for characters, maps, and layout need to be clearly communicated. This is done with computerized drawings. Designers use both 2D and 3D graphic design software to create these drawings.

Once the designer has brought the concept to life with drawings, the other members of the team can do their part. The game artists can create the images that will appear in the finished game. The programmers can bring the designer’s ideas to life with code. In very small studios, these roles can overlap, and designers might also be artists or programmers.

Preparing Production Materials

Designers might also be involved with preparing production materials for publishing. This may be the case for self-employed designers or designers who work for indie studios. These materials may be used for advertisements like windows, billboards, or vehicles. Designers lay out figures, logos, and designs for these materials. They might also draw or paint the designs.

Testing Games

Game designers are also involved in the play testing process. They might test games directly or train QA testers to perform this role. Testing games is different from playing them. The goal of testing is to find things that are broken with in-development games.

Testing also ensures the in-development game adheres to the original concept. If the gaming experience doesn’t match the original concept, game designers can collaborate with artists or programmers to make changes.

Leading a Team

Some game designers go on to become lead designers. Lead designers manage teams of designers and oversee their work. The lead designer on a project coordinates communication within the team of designers to make sure everyone is on the same page.

The lead designer also communicates between the design team and other teams at the studio. Lead designers also have to make important decisions about game design.

Of course, being a lead designer isn’t an entry-level job (unless you start your own game company). Typically, after proving your skills as a designer, you can get the opportunity to be promoted into a management role.

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