Practical steps to become a Game Designer

05 Jun comments

Who is a Game Designer?

Game Design is the art of crafting experiences and a game designer is someone who crafts experience.


How can I become a Game Designer?

For anyone looking to become a game designer the most important piece of advice I can offer is simple: make games. It might sound obvious, but that is what you should do. It does not matter whether its digital or analog. Finish your game, no matter how small it is, then get other people to play it. Observe, refine, retry. This is iteration (repeat the process) and it’s the heart of making great games.

There are off the shelf tools for making games of all types:


You need a portfolio to break into the game industry like you need in art, music and programming. The best portfolio you can show is a few playable and fun games. It may be crucial task, but strive to show your working. Clean up all the rough notes and make it presentable. Ditto for any formal documents you wrote.

One word of caution: Start small. Make your first game or level small because if you’re lucky it will only take you at least twice as long as you think to finish it.

Your first few experiments should be learning exercises.


Which course should I choose to become a Game Designer?

On the education front there are good programs at several universities and post-secondary schools, but be aware they often cost an arm and a leg. Look very closely at what they’re promising, get a list of the faculty and see what they’ve worked on, and always check on where their students end up. Blogs and forums are a great resource, students will often share their experiences with a program and you can get a picture of how programs are working day to day.

A broader university or college education has lots of value. Aside from learning skills you can also direct your studies to get a broad background in a variety of topics. A good game designer is well rounded, they don’t focus on just one area. Art, History, Neuroscience, Psychology, Literature, etc. are all good brain food.

If you’re technically minded, I would recommend a serious look at computer science. It’s broadly applicable in fields outside of game development. If you decide that making games is for you, and if you can write your own games, you can experiment and iterate yourself much faster without asking other people to do the code side for you.

The second big benefit of having a degree is that, it makes you much more mobile in a world where work visas are often dependent on what qualifications you have rather than how much experience you have accumulated.


How do I break into the Game Design Industry?

Bear in mind that starting as a game designer in the industry with no experience is quite hard and rare. Most game designers start their career as a QA tester, junior level designer, programmer or artist.

I’d definitely recommend breaking into one of those fields. It’ll give you a proper view on how teams work. There are a lot more positions available, and from there you have your foot in the door. Keep in mind you don’t “have” to join a large studio to be a game designer. The indie scene (independent art) is alive and thriving with talented developers, some of whom have served at mega publishers and others who have never set foot in a traditional studio. Check out Tigsource for a great indie game developer resource.

The lists below are some places to start off:





You can read the first part of this article, how Anup Yadav became a Game Designer at Electronic Arts (EA) here – Game designer is someone who crafts the art of experience – Anup Yadav