My name is Anup Yadav. I am a game designer and I have been working in the gaming industry for nearly 7 years now. Currently I work at Electronic Arts (EA) as a Senior Game Designer.
My Website : Domains of play
Who is a Game Designer?
Game Designing is an art of crafting experiences and a game designer is someone who crafts experience.
How it all got started for you?
I started playing games at a very young age and that went to be a huge part of my teenage as well.
And I have always been a visual storyteller and a problem solver.
I did study engineering courses only to realize that I don’t want to work as an Engineer. So, the alternative was very clear for me as soon as I finished my graduation.
What are the challenges you faced when you were preparing to become a Game Designer?
Challenges of becoming a game designer were high during my days.
In India there were no colleges which were teaching game design courses as such and my financial circumstances did not allow me to study abroad. All the design lessons that I have learnt were self taught. The experiences that I have gained are through working with some wonderful people in the gaming industry.
What do you do and how you do it?
At its core, I solve game design problems. When you are building games and creating experiences, there are a lot of iterations (repetition) to find the near perfect art asset, sound effects, tech implementation, balancing, system design and more. This involves talking to a lot of people. So COMMUNICATION is probably the most important skill for a game designer. Both verbal and written.
Apart from this, I write Game Design Documents (GDD). A game design document is a wiki for all the list of features a game will have. Once we have a skeleton, we build a small prototype to see if what we thought was FUN. If it is, then we iterate and make it a full fledged game. There is lot of back & forth and a finite amount of time to build a game. So as a designer you need to get most bang for your buck.
What do you love about your area of work?
There are new problems to solve everyday. That is probably why I have not regretted going to work every day. Apart from that there are no rules for dressing, timing are pretty lenient and generally we have a lot of fun on the floor.
What are the challenges for a Game Designer?
Challenges are mostly about competition for players attention. Since there are so many ways to spend time now (Facebook, movies, YouTube and more, not to mention tons of games in offer), it is really hard to keep the players interest in a game for more than 10 minutes. That is probably the hardest challenge yet!
How do you like to spend your free time?
Most of my free time goes in playing and analyzing a ton of games. With the boom of mobile apps, there are hundreds of game to explore. Apart playing games, I like to travel a lot and watch classic movies.
Can you please summarise your career journey?
- Game Tester – Ubisoft – Then moved to game economy designer. After a year moved to game designing.
- Game Designer – MYS Studios – Startup studio where I was the only designer to do a game. Learnt the tools of trade and how to work with smaller teams.
- Senior Game Designer – Electronic Arts (EA) – Working with multidisciplinary teams on titles played by millions around the world.
Online Course on Behavioural Economics & User Experience Design. Formal Design training was given in the company to learn the basics of game design.
Did B.E. in Information Science help you in Game Design?
Since I see myself as a visual problem solver, doing BE in Information science and writing code helped in having better conversations with Engineers working in the team. But the sort of experience helped me the most were making games. There is no other alternative to it.
YOU need to MAKE games.
There are tons of tools available in the market and the only thing that is stopping you from making games is your determination.
What will be the skills and education required to be a Game Designer?
As you start to build games, you have to work with interdisciplinary teams. Teams are formed with people of radically different skill sets and backgrounds from you.
If you work on video games, you’ll have to work with artists, programmers, designers, producers, sound guys, marketers, and business people.
If you can’t communicate the gaming experience you’re trying to design to each of these groups, the quality of your ideas will not be reachable. Because these are the people that translate those ideas into an experience that reach out to the world.
Thus Communication is very important for game designer.
Other Practical Skills that are required for a game designer are –
- High level of technical writing skill (Spelling, Punctuation & Grammar)
- Logical thinking
- Basic Psychology (Human Science)
- Understanding the medium (Computers, Mobile) – how they work.
- A solid grasp of Mathematics – Until Advanced Algebra
But if you want to be really GREAT Game Designer then you need –
- Basic understanding of literature, philosophy & myth
- Understanding the world religion
- Basic scripting and programming knowledge
- Understanding the basic art principles
- Basic audio design and music principles
- Practical knowledge of graphic design
- And a thorough internal library of games for reference (here is where all those years of you playing games will help)
What do you think potential recruiters will look for in a Game Designer?
Depending on the kind of experience you have, potential recruiters will look for a portfolio, especially when you are starting out. Game design is no different from art, programming, or audio. The best portfolio you can show is a few playable and fun games.
What are the various stages in Game Design?
Stat out as an Intern, then move on to a Junior, Intermediate, Senior, Lead. And the final form is Creative Director.
Other career options are QA, Artist, Engineer, Sound Designer, Product Manager, Marketing Managers, Producer & Development directors.
The easiest way to get into the industry is through QA (Quality Assurance)/ Testing!
What is the future of Game Design in India?
Potentially HUGE. India is the second biggest mobile and electronic consumer market and there are new game development studios opening every year.
How do I know if Game Design is for me?
- You should have interest in games. It is very hard to survive if you don’t play games in the gaming industry.
- To be a game designer, you need to be a visual problem solver. You need to have an inherent urge to solve problems, because games at the end of the day are crafted problems that players figure out a solution for.
- For anyone looking to become a game designer the most important piece of advice I can offer is simple: make games. Whether digital or analog, doesn’t matter. Finish your game, no matter how small it is, then get other people to play it. Observe, refine, retry. This is iteration, and it’s at the heart of making great games.
During the time of developing the game, you need to build them as well. While you are building them you will come to know whether you want to work in this sector or not.
Most of all, you need life experiences. As a designer you are crafting experience and you cannot do this without having some for yourself. A well balanced and a well examined life will make someone a great game designer.
I think there is a lot of misconception of what a game designer does in the industry.
A game designer is not the same as a movie director or someone who have a lot of ideas about games.
Game Design is a discipline. Just because you have played a game or a whole lot of a specific games doesn’t mean that you are prepared to design games. Most of the time designers don’t play games. They
- study them and analyse them.
- deconstruct their systems and test all their break points.
- reverse engineer the math behind principle systems.
Designer are fascinated by what makes an experience not fun as by what makes it fun.
Anup Yadav shares some practical steps to become a Game Designer.
Be Brave! Be Bold! Create!
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