How to Become a Video Game Designer from Noob to Pro [Guide]
Alexander is a Game Designer & Creative Director with over almost 20 years of AAA and indie experience. Through out his career he has worked on titles such as World of Warcraft, League of Legend, Hearthstone, Ori, and etc. He’s also the lead instructor at Game Design Skills.
How to Become a Video Game Designer from Noob to Pro [Guide]
Alexander is a Game Designer & Creative Director with over almost 20 years of AAA and indie experience. Through out his career he has worked on titles such as World of Warcraft, League of Legend, Hearthstone, Ori, and etc. He’s also the lead instructor at Game Design Skills.
So… you wanna be a game designer, eh?
Let’s see if you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Are you ready to transform from being a mere player of games into a creator?
Keep in mind that the thoughts in this post are from my perspective as a professional game designer for two decades working in studios such as Blizzard, Riot, and Moon, etc.
My goal is to share my thoughts on this topic based on my first-hand experiences in
- Breaking into the industry
- Hiring & training new game designers
- Growing into senior positions
- Going through the process of making my own game
By the way, it’s a long post, so you can skip to the parts using the floating table of contents.
Also, if you’re serious about becoming a game designer, I highly recommend you to take my latest training.
I made it specifically to help those who feel stuck to get hired in the video game industry faster through practical insights, principles, and exercises.
You can join the training here. (I made it accessible for free temporarily.)
Now, let’s get straight into it!
So first let’s understand…
What a video game designer actually does?
When people think of a game designer, they might imagine the villain of Grandma’s Boy or Free Guy – an ideas man with lots of tech and a penchant for video games.
However, the reality is a lot more nuanced…
Game designers make games as part of multi-disciplinary teams, with the player’s experience at the forefront of their minds, using an iterative process to systematically improve the core player base’s fun factor.
If we take a simplified high-level perspective of the process, it looks something like this:
Game designers will take the code from programmers, the art from video game artists and the schedules from producers, and glue them all together to create gameplay.
Using proprietary or public game engines, they set up behaviors, adjust balance and communicate the goals to the rest of the team.
This means it’s a mixture of communication, writing and data entry work!
So… what makes a great game designer?
Through my 1.5 decade of experience working, hiring, training, and leading game design teams I noticed 2 main consistent core skills that makes a game designer great:
- The ability to shift his/her perspective effectively back and forth from the needs of the project to the needs and wants of the players.
- The ability to listen to the players and team members to find the best ideas for the game! A game designer does NOT need to be the source of all of the great ideas.
Note: Video game design isn’t magic, but it does take time, dedication and focus to pick up these two skills.
What are the sub-disciplines of game design in the context of gameplay?
Of course, there’s more than one way to be a game designer.
Most people think of a single person writing a 100 page master plan in the form of the holy game design document for their game and game vision.
While documentation and communication are essential, this isn’t the only flavor of a designer!
Here is a list of game design sub-disciplines and their contribution to the overall experience:
- Narrative designer help ensure the environment, character and quest content matches the story and theme of the world.
- Level designers make interesting challenges and clear flows for the player to take as they explore.
- Mechanics designers create features which allow players to affect the world, enemies and allies around them.
- Here that’s a beginner’s guide I put together on what is video game mechanics.
- Combat designers use animation, timing and visual effects to clearly communicate success and failure in combat.
- Systems designers create interlocking parts to encourage the players to grow, explore and experiment.
- Balance designers ensure the game is healthy and that diverse play styles exist at a competitive level.
- Sound designers make the experience feel natural, comfortable, scary, or mysterious.
… and so many more, depending on the size, culture, and context of the studio and game you’re working with.
The term content designer, for example, is a catch-all term for designers who fill in the game after the core is built. On League of Legends, a champion designer is a type of content designer, while in Legends of Runeterra, it would describe a designer who makes new cards, while in World of Warcraft, a content designer would create quests and spawn monsters created by the combat team.
For example, did you know that in Blizzard, they have a role called “Historian?”
Yes, it’s real.
Here is my friend and colleague Crow Tomkus, who is a Blizzard Historian.
Video game design vs. video game development (what’s the difference?)
From experience, many people I’ve encountered think the hard part of making a game is designing it.
While the design is hard, design is only one of many disciplines that work together to produce a game in the process of game development.
The holistic process of “game development” includes every role:
- Game designer
- Architecture & tooling engineer
- QA engineer
- Playtest coordinators
- Community manager
- Social media manager
- and more…
Video game development is about the process of producing the entire game.
However, the definition of the term game development is also interchangeable with the definition of game programming.
So if you’re a game developer you do the coding in the process of making the video game.
Video game design is focused specifically on the kind of emotional, technical, and intellectual experience you want the players to partake.
Many disciplines use game engines, but game designers will often get deep into scripting, logic, behavior trees, and balance numbers and visuals while communicating their ideas to the players in.
When I was younger, I believed that you had to do everything to be a game designer.
There’s a seed of truth there – but knowing the right terms will help you focus in on the design role that fits you the best!
What part does video game design play in the whole process of creating a video game?
The design team will work with the creative director to define the sort of experience they want to create.
Early on the design team will work with the programmers to define the genre to build and the features to build for the game.
Then as the features come in, their job is to test, experience the features and provide feedback to the rest of the creative team.
So if we were to put all the roles in the context of the game development iterative process, here is how I would visualize it:
This can come in the form of personal conversations, emails, zoom calls, discord or slack messages — at the end of the day the communication, not the form is the key.
However it happens, the game designer is still responsible for making an amazing, memorable and focused experience.
Afterward, the game designer will shepherd the feature the rest of the way through the game by
- Taking player feedback
- Making small changes themselves
- Explaining larger changes to the leadership and programming teams
- Being a cheerleader for the ideas of both the team and themselves
Finally, if a game is a success, some designers may interface directly with the community to gather feedback, explain their thinking and try to ensure the long lifespan of the game.
Now, if you become a director-level game designer, your role is more closely associated with the vision of the product than other roles, but even so, the fundamentals are the same!
A lot of your time will be spent achieving buy-in and alignment, not just generating ideas for others to implement!
What does the career path of a video game designer look like?
There’s two common paths for a game designer.
Path 1: Work for a video game studio. There are types of studios you can work in with different pros and cons:
Type 1: Large studios(often referred to as AAA studios) like EA, Ubisoft, Activision, etc. In this type of studio, your role is much more specialized.
You will be responsible for just designing certain small parts of the game such as revamping a character.
When I worked in Blizzard I was assigned projects such as revamping the Warlock class (which recently got voted the best version by 90k Chinese Warlock players).
Type 2: Smaller independent studio. Unlike the larger ones, in indie studios, you will likely wear multiple hats or take on a bigger sub-piece of the game.
Path 2: Work on your own game. Think of
- Stardew Valley
- Cave Story
When you make your own game, you are responsible for everything. So you have to know how to source talents for the skills you need (but don’t possess) to complete your vision.
Each pathway is viable, but has different risks and rewards.
- Working for game development companies brings lots of resources but also rigidity.
- Making your own game means you have all of the control, but also all of the burden to deliver.
There are a lot of nuances in each optional path. I’m going to further clarify in detail to better help inform you on what you can expect.
Work for game studio
Working for a studio is the path with the most structure. There are many different ways to enter game design and each one leads to the next.
Internship – While rare, an internship will allow relatively inexperienced aspiring designers to work alongside more senior designers to learn the craft, tools and philosophies of the studio.
However, these positions are highly contested. You will be judged heavily on your understanding of the studio, their products and the critical thinking skills you apply to those design problems in the test.
Entry-level design, called ‘assistant’ or ‘associate game designer,’ has similar requirements as an internship – with the caveat that applicants who have developed their own games, performed an in-depth analysis of existing games in the genre, or formed online communities to discuss these types of games are heavily favored.
Entry-Level Work Experience Requirement: While college degrees are nice, ultimately showcasing your technical and critical thinking skills via portfolio, projects and interviews matter more than any specific work experience.
Anyone who showcases a blend of communication, critical thinking and design-focused thought patterns can apply for these positions.
Mid-level design, called “game designer,” kicks in when you’ve shown that you can consistently handle small or moderate sized projects with occasional input and direction from your leads.
You should also have enough social skills to be able to communicate effectively without aggravating your colleagues.
Mid-Level Work Experience Requirement: In general, you would need 3 years of game design experience to get a job as a game designer.
Ideally, you would also have shipped or significantly contributed to shipping a game to obtain this title.
In my case though, it took me almost six years before I went from ‘associate game designer’ to ‘game designer’ at Blizzard Entertainment.
…This had a lot to do with my stubbornness though 🙂
SENIOR LEVEL POSITION
After another six to seven years, many designers will reach the ‘senior game designer’ level.
It’s not guaranteed though – senior game designers not only can consistently execute on projects without supervision, but also are aware of the social and political environment on their teams and consistently use relationships to ensure projects go over without drama.
They also mentor and perform as role models for newer designers on the team, often mentoring new associates.
Senior Level Work Experience Requirement: Senior-level game designer experience can vary widely here. 7-10 years of design experience isn’t unreasonable here.
However, designers who are more in tune with the working environment or had significant experience working in other organizations may reach this point sooner.
Senior level is not a guarantee though – some people are content to remain at just the game designer level for most of their careers, focusing on creating content rather than mentoring or training new designers.
Here are the title modifiers:
- Assistant – Essentially someone else is responsible, you’re just learning the tools
- Associate – You’re usually responsible, but there’s always someone else who has your back.
- Senior – You’re the one who has someone else’s back.
- Lead – Managing others is your primary role.
- Principal – Focusing on your craft is your primary role.
- Technical – You have the ability to code in addition to design.
- Director – Your job is to set the goals and vision for the design teams.
- I, II, III, IV – Larger companies have multiple levels within game design to help people have a clear sense of progression through their careers.
Branching decision trees for senior roles:
When you reach senior game designer, you reach a fork in the road where you have to choose to specialize in leadership or craftsmanship.
In other words, do you want to be a manager or a maker?
Those who choose to refine their skills to a polish are called ‘principal designers,’ while those who choose to help lead teams are called ‘lead designers.’
…so how hard is it to become a full-time paid video game designer in the video game industry?
Like many jobs, getting the first role is the hardest one.
Once you’ve worked for a couple of years at the same job, switching companies, tracks and responsibilities are relatively easy if you’re not afraid of change.
In fact, I strongly encourage young designers to jump ship after 2 or 3 years with the same company, particularly if you’re not moving up the ladder, as often other company cultures will teach you new lessons.
When I went from Blizzard to Riot, I learned a lot about prioritization, cross-team structure, and more effective ways to integrate QA and testing into my work since Riot has a very different culture.
Make your own game (the entrepreneurial path)
If the idea of working with lots of people inside a rigid structure sounds constraining — you aren’t alone.
Many people decide to take the higher risk, but potentially more rewarding, a path of creating a game of their own invention.
The people who go down this path need to be capable in multimedia – a mixture of technical, artistic and design skills – as well as being able to schedule, plan and budget their own time.
Many people start down the route, only to pivot into working in larger studios to learn some lessons from more experienced designers, as well as learn the tips and tricks of the industry from other developers.
However, the reward for taking your own ideas from inception to finish is the ability to craft a vision that is created by you and your team alone.
There are several major challenges you will need to overcome on this journey.
Funding: You will need to be able to feed, clothe and home yourself while you are developing your game.
Many developers spend part of their time developing games and part of their time working other jobs – often better-paying ones – in a contract or part-time role.
If you go down this route, you will need a strong sense of boundaries to keep your part-time work from leaking into your game development time.
Alternatively, some developers develop small prototypes, raise money from publishers — an often competitive and challenging process that can take years — then are able to focus on delivering their game within the constraints of the project.
Tech: You will need to be able to build the game and the features you want in your game. This may mean a mixture of:
- Blueprints (Unreal Engine)
- Playmaker (Unity) scripts
Or if you have limited coding chops, then you can reuse an existing game and just modify the game art (aka modding) and gameplay (scripting).
However, you cannot escape that you need to be able to communicate the rules of the game to the computer so they can be enforced.
Alternatively, you can create board or card games where the human being is in charge of enforcing the rules.
Scope: It’s simply not enough to just have great ideas and the capability to build them.
You also need to be able to define exactly how much game you can make, in what amount of time and to what quality.
A major novice mistake is to see how much work you can achieve in your first week on a project – when you’re fresh, enthusiastic and energized – then use that as a measuring stick for the rest of the game.
You’re going to get sick, tired, burnt out, exercise, need doctor’s visits, time with friends and family. These are an essential part of a human life of self care.
If you don’t factor those into the amount of time you’ll need to develop your game, you’ll become demoralized when you slow down, need to debug a tough issue or otherwise get stuck. Proper scoping protects you here.
“Making a successful game is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Don’t be afraid to cut down your scope to improve quality or quality of life.
Iteration: You’re going to need to iterate. Even if you have nailed your core mechanic, you’re going to need feedback on what you’ve built and the places where your gameplay is unclear if you aren’t a part of the design.
Everyone has blind spots – so creating a culture of iteration is essential. Raw ideas need to be evaluated, modified and updated… until it hits the goals and quality level.
Working with your team to playtest your game regularly and frequently is absolutely essential. You WILL get bored of your game, which is why playtesting it frequently is a lot of work.
Remember the game design iterative cycle I showed you earlier?
You need to remain determined, focused and able to see the issue — or find the team members who can see the issues — and appropriately resolve them!
The path to working full-time as a professional game designer (starting from scratch)
First, the most important thing is to be sure you actually like game design – and not the idea of being the one in charge.
“The best games have both a clear vision and a flexible mindset to find the fun in the game.”
If you want to make games because you enjoy playing games, then that’s fine – but there are many, many ways to help make games.
Next, you need to build up your foundation of knowledge. Play games – and break them down.
Playing games will cease to be easy and relaxing, as you start to see how the games are put together. You’ll start seeing the matrix, and with it comes new levels of frustration, impatience and ennui.
Furthermore, once you have developed the insights into the problems in a game, and you develop the right mental framework for approaching those problems, you will need to be able to communicate the problems to the team.
Yes, even people who can’t see the problems as they are now.
This is why showcasing what you’ve done and having a few wins under your belt is so essential.
When you’ve not only found problems, but solved them and can show people the quality of your iteration and execution — you’ll earn trust, respect and the ability to do even more.
I remember while I was working on World of Warcraft, when I found a way to make the Netherdrakes fight while flying in the outside world.
Keep in mind, that this is something the programming team insisted was impossible outside of a locked raid zone. It earned a lot of respect on the design team and I was asked to do even more ‘impossible’ things in the future.
As a result, I used this credibility to build better tools, including a designer menu that made every designer’s daily life easier.
Next, you should be networking with other professionals in the game industry. Believe it or not, we don’t bite 🙂
Some are busier or less social than others, but we love to talk shop and share our insights with others on the same path.
…this is very different from fans who just want the next secret or who aren’t doing the work!
Finally, whatever you do, don’t be prideful about your first job. Not everyone will land a job at the next Supercell.
Take a position, spend a couple of years growing, then be ready to move on if the environment isn’t the right one for you.
I’m going to break each step down in more nuanced detail.
Step 1: Make sure that game design is right for you
To thrive as a game designer, you need to have a few attributes:
- A tireless sense of curiosity
- The ability to put your ego on the back burner
- The ability to cooperate and communicate with others
And it’s an incredibly challenging (but rewarding) job where you cannot keep everyone happy and make a strong, memorable game.
…finding options and making ambiguous decisions is an essential part of game design.
If this sounds intimidating, just get started. Start making simple games. If you find you enjoy it so much you want to push past the part where it’s hard… you’re off to a great start.
Start by building games that have no barrier to entry and can play anywhere.
If you aren’t sure how to do this, check out this video I put together on the topic.
Once you’re making games, you’re on the way to dabbling your way into a new career!
If you want some more guidance on how to get into some basic tools to mock up video games specifically, you can also check out our game design course on how to get started step by step!
If you are wondering: “What if I turn out to not really be suited for game design?”
That is COMPLETELY okay. There are so many other ways to help bring games to life: Programming, art, production, marketing, finance, and even legal.
Games are built upon many, many people collaborating to make a single product. Find your niche and get in there!
“Don’t judge a fish by how it climbs trees”
I first started as an associate game producer, then I got fired because I was simply doing a crappy job and the responsibilities of the role didn’t match my strengths.
The guy who fired me even took the time to tell me that I didn’t fit the role and the game designer role can be a better option. And rest is history.
Till this day, I’m still grateful for the direction he pointed me down.
Looking back to when I first started I was content just to get involved by becoming a translator because all the Nintendo DS games I played as a kid had Japanese names in end credits of the games I fell in love with.
I went as far as learning Japanese and lived in Japan as a foreign exchange student just to accomplish this goal!
Step 2: Build your foundational knowledge and hone your skills
You really need to know your stuff to be a great game designer. However, no one starts out great.
That humility is an essential step to becoming great though. The moment you can say “I don’t know” is the moment your mind is open to learning.
Here are a few ways you can get hands on experience:
- Play lots of games – Make careful notes about what you enjoy and don’t enjoy. Keep a journal of your insights and discoveries.
- Learn a single game engine – For me, that was Graal Online’s editor when I was 13 years old — and now is Unity and Unreal. Today that might be Roblox, Game Maker, or something else I haven’t even heard of yet!
- Participate in game jams – Even if you don’t have someone who can program per se, there are tools like Blueprints, Playmaker and more that will let you put some simple game ideas together without coding!
- Projects with friends – Even short week-long game-making projects with a couple of friends are great to develop your skills.
- Non code-based prototyping – You can always take a rapid prototyping course to make board or card games to skip the challenge coding hurdle.
If you really want to level up and learn the lessons the way my mentors taught me, you can check out the game design course I put together.
Note: This course distills the lessons my mentors taught me that transcended genre to build a lifetime of award-winning game experiences.
In addition, check out the free resources from people like Mark Brown, Egoraptor or the articles at GameDeveloper.com!
Game developers love to share their lessons, stories and experiences. You can find many of them here in this list:
- Egoraptor’s Sequelitis
- Mark Brown’s Game Maker’s Toolkit
- My other blog
- Gamedeveloper.com (formerly Gamasutra)
Also, be sure to check out free tutorials and resources from the sources on game engines:
If you’re wondering: “But… do I need a college degree?”
No! You don’t need a game design degree, a computer science diploma, or even a bachelor’s degree or one of many online degree programs.
These can be helpful and if they helped you – fantastic, but they are not necessary for you to develop your skills.
Your journey has so many different ways to start and grow.
Mine began with writing silly fanfics about Final Fantasy 6. This leads to me making websites and teaching others how to write HTML and java games.
It snowballed and I found early-level editors to make my own levels.
I eventually went to college, got that degree, and took all of the game design classes I could… which weren’t many… but I ended up in the industry when a lot of my colleagues didn’t.
This happened because the work I did outside of my classes mattered more. My passion, creativity, and focus resulted in something they could actually try and see how good I was at design.
The best option is to find someone to mentor you directly. But these opportunities are extremely rare, so you need to cherish them.
If you’re struggling, you can meet designers with more experience and learn bits of the ropes from them by joining online game design communities such as
- The IGDA Discord
- The Game Design Skills Think Tank
Also to get lessons from experts who have done it all before, you can also check out podcasts like
- The Game Design Deep Dive
- Soren Johnson’s Podcast
- Funsmith Fireside Chats
Step 3: Able to effectively communicate and showcase your skills
While I had game mods to show off, nowadays you need a game design portfolio.
This is a website showing off your work and what you’ve done in a condensed, tight way that showcases both your work and your critical thinking.
Joe Sopko’s portfolio is an excellent example of how you don’t need to be a fantastic artist or web designer to show off that you know your stuff.
Hiring managers need to know you can communicate effectively to know you have a good shot at filling the needs they have.
Step 4: Network with professionals in the gaming industry
If you’re in a major city, go to game development meetups! Some will just be hobbyists, but others will have actual game developers who you can talk to, ask questions and develop friendships.
In addition, showing that you respect, understand, and are actually doing the work goes so far as to develop trust.
Be careful not to just glue onto one specific developer who has the job you want though – meet lots of different developers and learn about their lives, struggles and interests.
If you aren’t in a major city, groups like the GDSTT, IGDA, the Indy Games Industry, and many other online groups are available to help you meet others in the same situation.
Google is your friend, as are other social media sites and platforms like Clubhouse.
Check out the Games Industry group over there to meet game developers and listen to the conversations they have with each other.
Step 5: Get your foot in the door of the gaming industry
When you’re getting started, humility is key, but so is action.
Apply for entry-level positions and customize your resume and cover letter for those positions.
Even if you don’t perfectly match the application, if you hit several of the key factors, go ahead and apply. The experience will help you so much.
This works because it’s easier for you to pivot positions after you are already in compared to you trying to get the “game designer” position from scratch.
By the way, In psychology, this principle is called the foot-in-the-door technique.
Drill interviews: Do mock interviews with others applying for games jobs, read practice design tests online, and think through the problems on your own.
This is one place where cheating WILL be obvious though – so don’t even try. Every design interview will ask you to break down what you came up with and why.
Talking it over with friends is totally okay though! Feedback and iteration is important. So is brevity — don’t use too many words!
Gaming companies are looking for talented people constantly. Don’t be afraid to send a resume their way — even if you are passed over now, you never know when you might catch someone’s eye.
Stand out in your resume: This is why it’s essential to have a clean, memorable, but well-presented resume.
Some people used clever cliches like making their resume into a character website or styling it like the UI of the game you’re applying for — but while this will get attention.
…it won’t help if you can’t back it up with the skills.
Passing the interview: Once you get past the screening with a properly polished resume and cover letter, the interview process will push you to your limits.
In a good interview, you will walk away unsure if you nailed the questions.
In a poor interview, the interviewer will throw you softballs and you’ll feel confident, but unchallenged.
When I interviewed at Riot, I didn’t assume I understood what the lead designers who interviewed me were saying.
I asked them to clarify the questions, situations and problems — and often that ensured we didn’t go down a rabbit hole leading to a poor interview.
At the end of the day though, remember it’s a numbers game.
Just keep iterating on yourself, your skills, and your applications. Each stage unlocks the next stage.
Except the reward is a fulfilling, but challenging, life as a game designer.
Step 6: You got your entry position, and started working …now what?
Holy shit. You got the resume in, you got the interview and you got — and accepted — an offer! Congratulations, you’ve beaten the curve.
However, now the real work begins. When you start in an entry-level game design position, the worst mistake you can make is to not ask questions and assume you know exactly what to do.
Try to spend your first month and ideally the first year, learning the tribal knowledge of your design team because everything is contextual.
Once you understand why things are done the way they are currently, THEN you can start questioning how to change things up!
Remember, it’s a many-year process to grow in design.
This doesn’t mean you should put up with a toxic or dangerous working environment though, so take care of your physical and mental health.
You won’t be at your best if you burn yourself out.
If you find yourself working too hard, step back and check that you’re not dealing with imposter syndrome.
If you happen to be in a field that isn’t game design, network with the game designers at your studio and see if you can help out from time to time or listen in on their discussions.
You have a lot of opportunities to learn from them, even if you aren’t ready to do the work yet!
What if I want to make my own game?
If you want to make your own games, it’s worthwhile to learn about software development in general.
1. Take some online classes or a paid class at a nearby college on software development.
2. Learn the techniques, like software engineering, which will teach you about
These are an essential part of the process most game developers learn the hard way – through years of trial and error.
3. Develop robust problem-solving skills. I ask myself to come up with three different solutions to the same problem before I pick one to start executing.
This helps me break free of the assumption that I have the perfect solution from the get-go.
4. Check out books on creating storylines. plotting out arcs and learning narrative design.
Narrative Design for Indies by Edwin McRae is a fantastic read, super short and to the point. Go snatch up a copy if you can still find them for sale!
5. Try out all 3 major game engines (Unity, Unreal, Godot) – then just pick one. It doesn’t matter which, as all of them have distinct strengths and trade-offs.
Practice, practice, practice until you can make a simple game from scratch. Many studios use these tools to build their games.
6. Take courses like the one from Chris DeLeon. His free course lets you make a simple game with nothing but a web browser!
In the end, once you get started the momentum only builds. You’ll get better and be better prepared to understand the next problem.
But most important above all…
7. Make a small game first. The smallest game possible means the best chances of finishing.
What are some soft and technical skills that a game designer should hone and why?
Complimentary technical skills
Programming skills: Every game designer should learn a little code.
You don’t need to be a master, but the more you know, the easier it is to help push the team forward.
To get started, check out programming languages like
- C# (Unity)
- C++ (Unreal)
Check out sites like grasshopper.app which will even help you learn how to code on your mobile phone.
It doesn’t matter if your goal is to be a master computer programmer or an artificial intelligence dabbler. Everything you do adds up.
Learn to use one game engine (as I mentioned before): Just like Photoshop is to graphic designers, Ableton is to music producers, Premier is to video editors, game engines have the same relationship with game designers and developers.
As I mentioned earlier in the article, there are so many nowadays I recommend you research and dabble in each one and double down on the one that fits your goal.
Complementary soft skills
These are some of the most important skills that determine how effective you are as a game designer.
Communicate: In addition to the technical skills, you need to be a great communicator.
Experiment with lots of different ways to showcase your skills. I personally love simple documents with lots of diagrams. Others design with excel sheets and colored charts.
Whatever method you use, make sure it works for you AND your team.
At the end of the day, how you communicate is about how well the other person can understand you.
Listen deeply: Furthermore, it’s not enough to just hear the words others say. Use techniques like Active Listening to communicate that you’ve heard them.
There are many courses on how to communicate and listen effectively. One that really helped me was Crucial Conversations.
You can grab the book for a few dollars from your favorite online book retailer.
Becoming a game designer is a journey of gathering many skills. I think of it like Aang’s journey in Avatar (it’s available on Netflix).
- You will start with one skill that comes easily to you. For me it was programming. For you it might be listening or communication.
- Then you have to go on a journey to learn the other skills. The next one won’t be too hard, but will challenge you – and you’ll need mentors, allies, and friends along the way to help you grow.
- Each skill after that will get a little harder, as you push outside of your comfort zones.
- The last major skill will probably require you to deeply inspect your ego, beliefs, habits, and fears.
For me, taking care of my own health came pretty late for me, and I ended up incurring deep, permanent injuries before I got help and started retraining and repairing my body and the mind-body connection.
I hope lessons like this help you find your own path and grow faster and more effectively than I ever did. Reader, I believe you can grow.
… will you?
P.S if you have any additional questions or feedback about my post, feel free to comment below. I would love to hear from you and I’m always looking to improve!
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6 thoughts on “How to Become a Video Game Designer from Noob to Pro [Guide]”
Thank you, I’ve recently been looking for a guide written by an actual game designer for a while. Thank you for this write up!
Very thorough overview on a game designer’s journey!
Great post! I’m interested in get into the game design industry. However I’m more developed on the artistic and musical side. Which positions do you recommend for me?
VFX, game concept art, 3D modeling, animation are great disciplines for music and arts background.
Great thorough guide. I really like the table of contents to help navigate the piece.