17/04/2007

How to become a Game Designer? - My experience

I've been working as a game designer myself for some time so I wanted to share my experience of it and give some insights.

What are the requirements?
There is no precise set of requirements for becoming a game designer. Most designers come from different fields of computer arts, programming or directly out of QA and I could totally see people from science or psychology fields orienting themselves in the video game field. In fact, the more diverse are your knowledges, the better.



The first thing to do is to ask yourself “what kind of games I want to design?”. A lot of big companies are breaking down the designer's job into sub-categories like “sports game designer”, “FPS designer” or others. But this is not all. You don't have to work for one of the big companies to work as a game designer. There is a whole independent (indie) scene getting larger than ever, the casual web game scene, ludo-educative games and an emerging serious games scene too. There is probably a lot of other opportunities that I'm not even aware of but let's look at those first.

The big players
Here we have the likes of Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, Gameloft, Eidos and other huge studios that concentrate on getting as much games out as possible with the highest production value possible. I've been in one of these companies before. While working on the latest cutting edge next-gen game might sound very exciting, you must be ready to put in some time and effort as these companies are habitually very demanding toward their employees (check out the EA spouse web site http://ea-spouse.livejournal.com/274.html to see what I mean). I've known people who were happy to work for those big corporates and pull those huge next-gen games but, for myself, I quickly got tired of the long hours and the low rewards. However, if you are new to the game field, it might be your best chance to get a designer job as they hire a lot of young talent. From my experience, employees would stay in that kind of company for an average of 2 years, so this opens up for a lot hiring in the long term. Just show them you know what you are talking about and that you are motivated and ready for the wild ride, and it should be enough to get you in somewhere (be it game designer, level designer or integrator. Integrator can be a great starting point).

The indie scene
Independent development is a lot more risky since it is often paid on short contract and you have no warranty that a game will sell. I would not recommend starting your own company if you have no experience, though getting a couple of contracts will help you see what the indie scene is all about. Check out forums http://forums.indiegamer.com/index.php for informations and job offers. While there is a lot of risk at sake (ie: how much food there is in your fridge) being an indie developer is extremely involving and exciting. You get to work on the projects you believe in, you have a lot of responsibilities regarding the quality of the game, it's marketing and customer support, there is no boss over you head to tell you what to do. Basically; you get the freedom to do your things. If you have enough talent and are ready to risk a part of your income, I'd say go for it.

Being an indie developer also means that you'll have to wear a lot of different hats. Most of the time you will be working with a very small team so the more you know about coding, art, sound and design, the better. These days, some online publishers are emerging to help the indie scene. The most important one is probably Manifesto Games that concentrate on hardcore games of different genres but there is also Kongregate which wants to be the YouTube of Flash games. The advantage of these publishers is that they pay a good percentage to the developers.

Casual games
What some call the “thirty-something-at-home-mother's games”, though this is somewhat totally inaccurate and limiting. This particular market mostly started out with independent developers building simple and addictive puzzles games but it grew to a point that now there is big players in it; Shockwave games, Big Fish Games, Reflexive Arcade, Real Arcade and a lot of others. Those are all massive publishers or game portals. A lot of the games are still developed by independents and sold to the portals for distribution. Developers are paid based on the number of game sold but the margins have gotten a lot smaller as time passes and the popularity of the portals goes up. While you might not get a lot of money on each single game sold, the big advantage of these portals is that it gives you a huge amount of visibility.

Ludo-educative games
This is where I work right now. I'm working for a company that develops educative games for young children. I have not heard about a lot about these companies as there is few of them but from where I work, I can tell that the quality of life in these environment is much higher than with the big players. First of all the company is much smaller, which gives place for more discussion and employee empowerment. I'm not doing any overtime and if ever I have to (in exceptional occasion) I'm paid for it. My bosses care about their employees and the environment is much more relaxed. I'm really enjoying my experience so far and the games are of tremendous quality.

The big difference with the children's games market is that while the profit margin per game is somewhat lower than the next-gen games, there is a lot less competitions and a single game can sell for several years. Children do not care about having cutting edge technology graphics and they are not consuming dozens of games every years like the average hardcore gamer so a single game has a lot longer shelf life. This reduces the pressure on a company and, consequently, on it's employees.

Serious games
This might be the kind of games I'm the most interested in but at the same time it's the domain I know the less about. Indeed, this is a very new domain. Academics and searchers are realizing that games have tremendous power for teaching and they are trying to put them to good use for the society. This includes games for education, training in various fields, health, politics, etc. These games can range from simple trivia to complex simulations. I encourage you to discover this field. There is some very entertaining games that gets you thinking (like 3rd word farmer that I have talked about in a previous post).

Here is some other links on the subject:
Social Impact Games
Serious Games Initiative

I could not tell exactly what it takes to get into this business but it appears that a lot of games are produced by companies outside of the game industry and by universities. I've seen universities offering open calls to developers for making particular games with social impacts so there is certainly some openings for independent developers as well.

So what now?
Once you found where you want to belong, I recommend that you read as much as you can on the topic of your interest. If you are interested in the big players or the casual game space, play a lot of those games and find out what it is that interest you. What are the strength and weaknesses of those games? Why do you enjoy them so much? Study their design (levels, mechanics, controls, interfaces, characters pace).

If what you are really interested in is the AAA games of the big players, you better break down to what really resonates with you. Would you rather be a level designer or a script writer? Do you want to build game mechanics, artificial intelligence, stories, interfaces? As these companies get bigger, the jobs are getting more specifics so it would be good if you knew what you want to do exactly, or at least what you want to specialize in (as you are always likely to wear more than one hat).

If you are interested in serious games or ludo-educative games, read on the subject and check out what has been done. While there is not a huge amount of serious games, the domain is well documented and you can already ask yourself what is the statement you want to make by developing a game. Surely it will be about a well known topic that is already strongly documented like health or politics. How can you apply interactivity to it and how is the interactivity meaningful? More than often it will be a big challenge as it is most probably something that has never been done. Educative games often bear the same kind of challenges; you have to learn about education, school programs, learning methods, etc..

And whatever the kind of games you want to build, do you want to work for someone else? Would you prefer working in a big or small company? Or would you rather go out on your own and try to do it by yourself?

Design basics
Yet, if you really want to be a designer, whatever in which field, there is a lot of basic stuffs that you need to know and there is a lot of books that can help you.

Here are some recommended read on design topics:

A Theory of Fun
Raph Koster

Fast and fun read. Simply thought provoking.

Rules of Play : Game Design Fundamentals
Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman

A lot of strong theory and very practical tidbits and experiments. Very academic book. Strongly recommended.

Rollings & Adams on Game Design
Though a bit too general to dig in anything specific, this book comes as an excellent overview of the established genres and basic design consideration. I would recommend this one as a good starting point.

Better Game Characters by Design
Katherine Isbister

I have yet to read this one. Tell me what you think if you've read it. :)

Understanding Comics
Scott McCloud

Though this book is about comics, I found that most concepts can be applied to telling stories in a game. From building worlds and characters to developing the pace and a graphical style, this is all amazing stuff.

Le Macroscope
Joel de Rosnay

This is a scientific vulgarization book. Rosnay explains how different complex systems (human body, economic systems, corporate environment..) work and are regulated (or balanced). This is crucial theory if you want to build good simulations.
The book can be read online for free (the original version is in french but the link is for an english version).


Becoming a game designer is a lot of work. It is an art in itself and must be taken as such. But it is also a lot of fun and seeing your game getting built is very rewarding. If you have any other read recommendations or something to add on any topic of this article, I'd be pleased to read about it so go on and comment! :)

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[UPDATE: If you want to learn more, you can read the follow-up to this article: "How to become a Game Designer? - My career story"]

61 comments:

Jae said...

Mr. Kevin

I am a young student who is looking fervently at a future as a game designer. Me and a few of my friends have designed a game that is not programmed, and has no story attached; however the mechanics of the game are completely thought out and functional. The system works exactly as it should, it merely needs to be implemented. i was curious if you could offer any advice as to what we should do with it.

Kevin said...

There is only one tip I can give you: program it or find someone to do it! There is several tools that can help you implement your ideas quickly and easily but it is essential that you try it out "live" with a demo. Sometimes the best ideas in the world are found to be completely boring once in action. Ideas are cheap; execution is everything.

owain said...

Mr. kevin

hi i am a 16 year old boy and i am thinking about what it would be like to go into game designing. i have read what you have had to say and it seems relly cool. But i was thinking about it more as a back up. i am thinking about the 3 sciences and maths for my as levels do you think this would be good for a game designer to have. And how would i go about choosing which kind of game designer i should be i feel that the games i like most are creative child games like say digimon.

Kevin said...

Any knowledge is practical for a game designer. I would say that science and maths are pretty useful for understanding the underlying mechanics of games (code) or the way an interactive world might work (biology and systems). If you are in it for the money, go away. Game designing is a pretty sucky way to go if you want a comfortable job. Go for it if you are really passionate and believe it's going to be something you like. You can always start by doing some demos and experimentations on your own and see what you can come up with. Becoming a game designer is a long road and one heck of a art! It takes dedication and will power (like any art). As for choosing what kind of game you want to make: go with what you already like. It's no use trying to do kind of games you don't understand. Follow your own gut and feelings and try to develop things that you would like.

cazfiend said...

i have a friend who wants to be a game designer but does not have any real qualifications or skills but is very passionate about this industry could you give me advice on how he could work his way into either with college courses etc???

Semi said...

Hi kevin i was just asking should i follow my parents advice of doing triple science and maths in college, or should i do what i want to do, and that is study games design & animation in college and other courses I like. I am really interested in this business i would love to work for the nintendo company and other companies like: konami, capcom , sega, but especially for the nintendo company, because i love there games. "Absolutely" I want to pass on my ideas i would love to show them to implement there company. What do i have to do to get into the big companies and would it be a good idea in doing games desgin in college and in university. Could i then definitely get into a games design company. Please tell me what i should do am really passionate about games design.

Kevin said...

Hi Semi, thanks for your comments. I'm not qualified to be any kind of life coach or tell you what is the next step you need to do. You have to find your own route by yourself. As for my own life decisions, I'm a pretty stubborn guy and I mostly just listen to myself so I chose what resonated with me at any moment I had to make choices. It turned out well for me and I don't regret any of those choices, even though I'm a financially poor independent developer right now. I once dreamt of working for Nintendo too, but I don't think I would personnaly like working for them now. I'm a very independent type of character so I don't fit into any enormous corporation. Everybody is different so you will have to make your own experiences before deciding what fits for you.

If there is one piece of advice I can give you it's this: always listen to your feelings. If you are somewhere and feel that being there is wrong, then figure out where you really aught to be and make the appropriate changes. That's why I didnt spend much time in the AAA industry.

Semi said...

thanks kevin i thought it paid off being a games designer but i still think i should go for it what games do yu design kevin

Dando said...

Did you know that both hideo kojima (metal gear solid) and Hironobu Sakaguchi (final fantasy) both studied for careers completely different to what they ended up doing? hideo kojima studied economics at college, while Hironobu studied electrical engineering!
I don't know if this encourages me, or does the opposite, as games are very different today than they were back then. perhaps restrictions on what a company will want to hire may be restricted by new fields opening up as gaming continues to get more and more serious. both of the above mentioned are inspirational people to me, especially Hideo, and I would like to follow his footsteps one day, and be in his position as a writer, director and producer, but I'm studying to become a conceptual artist and The big heads in gaming, not to mention the competition is very concerning...

Anonymous said...

I too am 16 and am going to be studying physics, biology, psychology and sociology, mainly because i enjoy them, but I want to work in game designing, specifically developing the game mechanics and overall gameplay. Do you think these would be beneficial? And i ultimately want to work on developing RPGs or similar games for the larger companies, but where do I start and what other qualifications should i work on achieving?

Kevin said...

The skills you enumerate are a nice set of skills. They will probably prove useful to a game designer. As for working for a big game company; they are a very "closed-up on themselves" group and will ask specific "game design" skills, so building prototypes in any programming language, building a MOD or other demoing experience is very great to impress them. Read "Rollings & Adams on Game Design", as suggested in my reading list. This is a very straight forward book about basic industry design knowledges. If you want to go further into unexplored territories, get "Rules of Play". It is much better and thorough but the precedent is simpler and have more chance of getting you the necessary skills. Good luck!

Iden0 said...

Hi Kevin,i am David i Live in Uk where it is increasingly Difficult tryin to find any thing to do with Game design,seems our Country is behind with the times,altho here in Scotland the Universities have been actively involved in teh industry for years,i found all that you wrote an inspiration and at last it is excellent to finally read anothers Thots and Opinions on where exactly someone should start whn turningthere focused attention onto the Path of Games designer,Plp here no matter who you tlk too are elusive and aloof whn it comes to basic understanding of the Subject of Designer never mind Games designer- i get responses ranging from "Eh?" to "i'm afraid you would have to find that out for yourself"there are plenty of Private Companies willing to Train Folks and heavy fees seem to accompany all of these opertunities-my qwestion to you is 4 years at a Uni an you would be Certified an qualified,so how can these companies fast track your training so you can learn 4 years worth in jus over 12 weeks?my head spins,i guess im late in the day for reasearching a viable Path into this new and exiting field of industry
All the Best Iden0

Kevin said...

Hi Ideno, That's an excellent question that I unfortunately can't answer with great accuracy. I've been in University but not in a program exclusively about Game Design, and when it comes to other programs, which I don't know their about their curriculum, how could I judge their values? The industry is so fast, maybe they need quickly trained designer badly? Or maybe these intensive programs rely less on theory and abstract, high-level conceptuals reserches, like most University's programs do, and rely more on hand's on experience, on actually doing games.

Anonymous said...

Hi I am a 16 year old boy and i don't have that much knowledge in science and math but i love playing role playing games such as fable and i have a great imagination and have been told to be very creative. I was just wondering if you think that video game designing or anything in the game industry would be right for me plz comment back if you could.

Kevin said...

If you are not convinced already, then it's probably not for you.

But really, I just don't know! You are the only one that can know but in my opinion it takes a certain passion to take on any artistic job.

Feyarts (Ryser) said...

hey .. I would love to know what is the real basic course that i should take... I'm thinking about taking Art and design at the University in my country.... but is it correct so I can became game designer? some say I have to learn programming... but that's game programmers job rite? because the programming and design is in different course... I can't take both... I really need your answer .. thanks

Kevin said...

Hey Feyart,

If you read my follow-up article (http://gamesandmen.blogspot.com/2009/10/how-to-become-game-designer-my-carreer.html), you'll see that I can't answer your question. However I can tell you that you don't need to study programming. I've learned a bit of programming myself but it's clearly not the most important part of my learnings. Just study what makes you excited, read the curriculum of the available programs and if it pleases you then go for it. That's all I can really say.

Piet said...

Hello Kevin.

I am near to finish my highschool and alongside being interested in mainly history/international relations, is it possible to combine such courses at some universities/colleges ?

Also, what really differentiates a lead designer from a game designer? Thanks for the info :)

Legend said...

Hello Mr.Kevin,
Can you please describe me what is the difference between Game Designer,Game artist & Game graphic programmer?...What is the role of Game designer and game graphic programmer in making a game?.......Does the game graphic programmer work on softwares like Maya or 3D studio max during the making of a game?......

Kevin said...

@Legend:

The Game Artist produces art assets. Mostly working on visual elements.

The Game Designer works on the game mechanics, the disposition of objects, interface elements, level design, etc.. etc.. He is often the unifying element of the game, working with both artists and programmers so as to make sure that everybody has the same vision of the game in mind (that's the ideal situation though, it depends on which company he works for).

The Game Graphic Programmer program the engine that uses the art assets and display them in the game. In reality I don't know much about this role. I havent had the occasion to work with actual programmer specialised in Graphic Programming. They probably work with 3D softwares but mostly to make the link between the assets produce with the softwares and the game engine. He doesnt produce the art.

Those who work the most with the 3D softwares are obviously the 3D Artists. Sometimes, depending on the project, they will have to comply to some limitations depending on the graphic engine programmed by the Graphic Programmer.

Legend said...

What education and degree do I need and what courses I need to do to work as a game graphic programmer?...........I am actually an engineer student because of which I am not good at drawing,sketch,painting.etc that's why I need to work as a game graphic programmer instead of an artist.

Legend said...

One more thing,Does the Game designer work both on game's graphic engine and gameplay mechanics?......What is the difference between Game designer and Game programmer?

Kai said...

Hello Mr. Kevin. I am a university student who recently got her Associate of Arts. I've been planning to obtain a Bachelor Degree with a minor on graphich Design and an undecided major. (I can't really afford to go to an Art Institute or something like that.) What do you think my major should be? I've been learning how to use Photoshop and creating logos, but I feel like I'm drifting away from my main goal. Though I must admit that learning how to use PS and Flash will be extrememly useful. I am an avid player and a decent artist if I say so myself and as of now, I am interested in developing my own story and characters and I might be planning on creating something between a RPG and Adventure; I really want to create something new, refreshing and original. I even have it all sort-of planned out already. A friend reccomended for me to get a Writing major, but I'm not sure if this is the way to go. So my question(s) is: Is Graphic Design a good choice for my Bachelor's? Is there a better choice? What's the highest degree of education I can obtain in order to get a job in the Game design industry and with what title? And once I finish school, how can I get into the gaming industry? I know I will probably start as a Game Tester and I don't mind starting from the bottom, but how EXACTLY can I get there?

Sorry if this seems excessive. But no one in this town seems to guide me in the right direction. I doubt they even know what Game Design is. And you are one of the few people that seem to know what the heck are they talking about and that has been involved in the kind of working environment I'm shooting for. Thanks in advance.

Kevin said...

Hi Kai.

If you havent already, you can read my follow-up to this article, "How to become a Game Designer? - My career story". To summarize, there is no "one way" to get into the industry. Every designer has his own story and you just have to follow the path that you feel is good for you and that will fuel your passion.

Another tips I can tell you about the ideas you have, is to start as small as possible. RPG and Adventure games are often large games and you need experience before taking on something like that by yourself. I started with a crappy space shooter (after cancelling many projects that I couldnt make). The important thing is to complete a first project! That's the best advice I can give you.

vivek said...

hi kevin
i am 22 year boy from India.
i have completed my degree in b.c.a.
and right now i am doing DAC course form C-DAC.
i done with c,c++ and java.is there any other course for game programming apart form my qualification then give your valuable suggestion.
i want to become a game programmer so show me the right way.
hope that u reply soon.

Kevin said...

Hi Vivek,

Other courses? I don't know. If you feel up to it, I'd suggest instead that you try working on something of your own. Build a small prototype in a programming language you know. This is gonna look great with your jobs application. That's how I got my Designer job anyway, with a Flash demo of a game. If you want to be a programmer, you don't necessarily have to come up with a very original design. Close something just to practice your skills.

Anonymous said...

I really want to be a game designer, all my friends say that I dont have any creativity but I am really good at writing stories but not good at drawing my characters on paper. I always changed my mind what I wanted to become but I loved video games when I was a small child and I really want to design games. Do you think drawing skills will help my chance of becoming a game designer?

Anna said...

Hello Mr Kevin

First of all I want to thank you for sharing your experience with us, and that you are a very skilled writer. I will definitely continue to read your blog^^

Next I would like to ask you how good do you actually have to be to become a game designer?

I'm a 17-year-old girl from Norway who's currently studying Biology, Math, and information technology, though I'm more skilled and interested in drawing and story writing, so the current plan is to become a game designer, and create the stories and characters for games.

Compared to most other people I know I can say, without meaning to brag, that I have a good enough imagination (I've been called "insane" one to many times) and my drawing skills are good, but can of course be better. I mainly draw and color on my computer with my Wabcom tablet so I've master many different techniques (Like adding realistic shadows etc..) On top of that I'm practically in love with games so most of the "basic" things are covered from my point of view.

But then comes what I fear the most, that I'm not good enough to become a game designer! I mean the stories and the drawings are just.... fantastic, and I'm not even sure that people can fall in love with my art as much as I've fallen in love e.g Link and Mario. (not that I'm good enough to be compared with Shigeru Miyamoto) Because that is what I really want is to show people a beautiful story and kinda make them feel it (Okay that sound cliche, but it's true)

So if you, the mighty Sir Kevin would be kind enough to inform this young lost soul what you think should be the standards of a "good-enough-to-be-hired" game designer I would be most trilled^^

Big smiles, Anna from Norway

Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nik said...

Hello sir ,this is NISHANT PANT from India .Sir I wanted to be a game designer so can u please tell me about the courses for this purpose.
SIR your help will be highly appreciated. Thanks in anticipation.

Kevin said...

@NIK: All advices I can give you you can find in this other article: "My career story".

Chirag said...

Hi Kevin

I am currently pursuing my B.Tech degree at Indian Institute of Technology(IIT) Roorkee(India).
I am very much passionate about game designing. I know C++ and currently I am learning OpenGL. I have developed simple games like Tic Tac Toe and Tetris using OpenGL.
Now I am wondering should I go with OpenGL further or rather I should start making games using some game engines like Unity or Game Maker.
Because many of game designers I have read about make games using one or the other engine.
I haven't seen anyone saying that he has made games using OpenGL.
I am in confusion regarding the path to choose.
My heart says me to learn OpenGL further but I doubt if it will fulfill my dream of being a game designer.
Thank you
Waiting for you response

Kevin said...

@Chirag : Depends what you want to design for. Actually I know very little about tech decisions. I'm now doing my own game in AS3 with Flashdevelop and Flash. There is a very open market for those games. However if you aim for downloadable games or consoles, other languages are probably better.

Finaly, if you study programming too much, you'll end up a programmer. Take what you know and DESIGN with it. Make a prototype. It's the best way to build you design skills.

Kayla said...

Salutations!

Sorry if you've already mentioned this.. I've noticed that the majority of video game programmers and designers have computer science degrees as opposed to video game development degrees. I'm currently getting an associates in computer science and can't decide whether getting involved in a (serious, like RIT) video game development program or a computer science program after I get my associates. Suggestions?

Kayla

Kevin said...

Hi Kayla,

I don't know if I'm well placed to give you advices but I'll try. If you want to be a game designer, better get involved in a design oriented program. Your associate degree in computer science will certainly help you in some way anyway and you probably don't need to push further in that path unless you want to be a programmer and not a designer.

If most game designers have degrees in computer science it's probably because game design degrees are very new and were not available by the time those designers chose a program.

Good luck.

Markus Ray said...

Hi kevin
Actually i want to ask about institute of game design means there is one institute in india offering 100% placement but take to much fees and other is not taking to much but he's result in not good as comparing to first one so need yor advice about how to choose institute.

Serafin said...

Hello, Mr. Kevin!
I´m a 19 year old girl (And because of that, I assume that by "Games and Men" you don´t mean male humans, but humankind in general ;D) from germany, that wants to become a video game designer as well.

Your article is really interesting, and I never thought I could even be as specific as you said I have to be: I really love roleplaying games but always thought I would have to end up in sportsgames or something... So on that part, you gave me hope.

Now I have a question.
Recently, I was at a colleges portfolio advisory, but soon decided this was NOT what I wanted to do. The other people there made real art, one girl had ivory carvings with her!! And I? I do drawings. Drawings of characters. I design characters and invent background stories for them. This is my passion of some sorts... But at the same time, I know I´m not nearly as good as other people.

Now I found a different college which has "Digital Art - Games" as a course, and I want to design a portfolio for that one. But I don´t know, if I can use the drawings (that were totally out of place at the other school) in this portfolio. I´m really scared they won´t take me... I want to do this since I am a child.

Do you think I should try and program a small game as well? I can do some flash stuff and have an interesting idea, but I don´t know If I can do it until June 1st. (the portfolio CAN contain a game, and I fear that everyone will submit one but me...)

You can view some of my art at my deviantart site (linked), but I fear that it is too manga-like, and too childish.
I´m sorry for bothering you with this, but I saw how nice you were to all the other commenters. That is such a rare trait to be found these days!

Thank you for reading,
Serafin

Kevin said...

Hi Serafin,

I read your message carefully. I think you know exactly what to do already but you're looking for a good word.

Do it. Always do what you want even if you have to work for it, don't accept less.

Your portfolio might not be impressive yet, but you are going there to learn. Show confidence and motivation, that's what matters.

jin said...

Mr Kevin

i'm a 17 year old guy from Malaysia(yeah backwater country)who aspires to create his own game.The game i seek to create is a game with good gameplay and good storyline.(that game would probably be the game i put most effort into it).So if i am able to reach america/canada,successfully graduate from a college and am able to work in a comapny,how do you recommend i go about in trying to make my own game?Should i attempt to join a big company(or any gaming company for that matter)first and then start my own company or should i attempt to gain a job in a big company that allows me authority over creation of games

Kevin said...

Hi Jin,
It's certainly a good idea to work for a big company in order to get hands-on experience but don't expect to work on your own games idea while working for someone else. This VERY RARELY happens, even for seasoned designers.

Also, don't wait. Start working on something small now to get a better idea of how a game is made. There are tons of fantastic tools to help you get started (Flixel, FlashPunk, Box2D, Unity3D, Game Maker, ...).

Just start small. Very small.

jin said...

Mr Kevin

Might i ask how do the 'ideas' get chosen in a gaming company or how they decide to make a game?Do they favor certain game directors,give an order to make a game based on what's hot,randomly choose and elect a person to make a game,or do they vote to make which game based on a number of choices given(like when you vote for president)

Kevin said...

@Jin : Every company has it's own way of deciding, I'm sure. But mostly, decisions come from above (as in the "bosses") and are driven by a need to make money (i.e. using popular licenses, proven genres). Decisions are made on previous failures and success. When one game can cost several millions dollars to produce, it's difficult to justify taking risks. However, if you are lucky enough to join a small company or a start-up, this might be different.

Maya said...

Hi,Kevin.I'm 29y. old girl..I've studied fine arts- painting when i was younger ,after i was studying in Drama Acting University.But drawing stayed for me like a hobby and a bit more.Cause i was selling some of my paintings.For many years I love playing games...So I wanted to ask is there any chance if you are a painter but you've never learned gaming design and you don't have any other skills related , to get prepared to be a concept artist,animator,designer etc. or to get some start with work placement programs so on..Or you must study all those things.Cause I wanted to do this..drawing characters and so on and after to be able to work in some game company.But I don't know where to start from.

Kevin said...

@Maya : Sure, of course. There's no set course for working in the game industry. Just build yourself a portfolio of related (or somewhat related) stuff and apply for a position. Who knows? Be aware though that the game market is very slow at the moment due to the recent economic crash. Maybe head for the indie industry and try to do contract work there.

papichulo94s said...

Mr. kevin


I am a student, Next year i'll be a junior so i was asking myself what i wanted to become, since i love video games and i'm very good at 'em, i would love to become a video game designer or video game tester, the thing is that i'm really bad at art, so i was wondering, what should i study, what collage's should i apply to or which classes should i take to become a video game designer or tester, It would be a great help if you could give me some advice

Anonymous said...

Hi kevin

im kris and im 16 years old, this year im starting and will be studying at college and doing media btec and art design and thinking about doing 3d design instead media btec but dont know which is better for becoming a game designer. have a pasion for games like 'call of duty' but dont know where to go from here can u help meee? also what courses you have to take to be a game designer????????? confuseddd

Aniruddh said...

Hi Kevin

My name is Aniruddh and i am from India.I just want to ask you is drawing skills necessary for game designing as well as c++ programming?
I am very good at imagination but cannot convert into a game.Please advise.

Kevin said...

Basic drawing skill is a must to communicate your ideas, but it's in no case necessary. You can compensate by good writing skills. Knowing at least one programming language, even just some basics, will help you too in creating demos and explaining your ideas. You have to decide where you specialize and which skills you want to develop but having ideas sure ain't enough.

Rory said...

Hi Kevin,

I intend to get a career in 3D modeling and animation. Would I need any drawing skill to get a job in this field because im not good at drawing. I thought it would only be needed in an indie studios where you need to fill multiple roles but in a large company, would this skill be required?

Kevin said...

@Rory :
Basic drawing skills are invaluable to any visual arts. Being able to sketch your ideas before jumping in 3D software will help you very much.

Don't know how to draw yet? Good news! You're going to school to learn stuffs! :)

Jeremiah said...

Hi, MR. Kevin

Im a sophmore in high school curently. I am very interested in the gaming industry, it's basicly the only thing that interest me. I know that I want to becomce a lead game designer specifically, and that I am willing to start in another position for 2-3 years. I want to create big games, whether by myself or with a company. I have many skills, and have some expierence with creating a game. I plan on becoming a lead game designer for a few years until finally I decide to create my own gaming company after getting to know what is required for one to exist. The only question I still need answered, is what classes in college should I take, or what should I major in? Also,what are some colleges you suggest, and what classes do you recommend in high school to prepare for the best possible? I do understand it may be hard, or difficult, but I am willing to take the risk needed in order to get my ideal job.

Thank you for your time.

James said...

Mr.Kevin

HOW DO I A GAME DESIGNER!!!!

HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin I'm a young boy still in secondary school and I'm aspiring to become a game designer I have a pretty good idea of what I need because I've been reading alot of stuff about game designing I even have story for a game that hopeful one day get to make my only question is that which company is better to work for taking account that the boss is not a jerk and the hours aren't long and it's a fun place to be. At first I wanted to work for ubisoft because they manufactured the assassins creed trilogy but after reading what you said I'm not do sure can you please give me advice for a company I should one day work for thank you.

Anonymous said...

One more question do you need drawing skills to become a game designer because I'm not the best drawer and if yes can you tell me how to improve thank you

Darpan Sharma said...

hi Mr. Kevin, I am from India and i want to be game designer. I am doing preparation on my own. I am thinking what should I do to be a successful game designer in companies like ea games. Please help me out.

Thank You

Kevin said...

About which company it's best to work for : I'm not the best person to answer this as I don't work in any company (been an indie for a few years now). I'd say the smallest company are the best to work for as they don't have a huge bureaucratic structure and are much more flexible at receiving new ideas and letting a worker take his place. HOWEVER! those are going to be harder to get in in the first place. As a young aspiring developer with no experience, you have much more chance to be hired by a big company (Ubi, EA, Eidos, etc..) where the employee turnabout is very high than in a small business. While it's true working for these "big men" is often not very fun, it's a good way to get started, learn and get experience in the field. Don't worry though, you don't have to be there all your life.

Drawing skills : yes and no. You don't need to be a great artist but having enough skills to quickly and efficiently sketch out your ideas is certainly a big asset to have under your belt.

Good luck.

Kevin said...

@Darpan Sharma : During the interview, when they ask if you are willing to do overtime when required, answer "Yes!".

himanshu16 said...

Mr. Kevin
hi, i am 18 years boy from india,i just completed my schools ,now i have to choose my carrer path,i want to be a game designer but i dont know anything about that,that which course will help me to be a game designer and what are its eligibility criteria ,so please help me by giving me all information about getting into this field

Derek said...

Hello Mr. Kevin

I'm a 16 year old Junior in high school and I love to draw and I love to play video games, especially Nintendo. I have been looking for someone experienced to ask. I have been really interested in becoming a video game designer for over a year now. I have been doing research for colleges and video game design, and I want to know what the best major in college is to get a good video game designing job, and to make sure that I get a job. I heard that computer science major is better than video game design major, is this true? I have been really worried about choosing the wrong major for college. Please respond, thank you! :)

pooja bhide said...

Mr.kevin

hi.. i am pooja bhide, now i am studing b-tech 3rd year in hyderabad, my qustion is after completion of my b-tech i want to be game designer.. then what should i do??

Anonymous said...

Mr Kevin,
i want to be game designer of top player or level designer, what should i do??