How to Become Principal Game Designer Starting from QA | Candace Thomas | Funsmith Fireside Chats #3

Funsmith Fireside Chats Episode #3

Guest: Candace Thomas

Candace Thomas is the former Lead Game Designer on World of Warcraft and Diablo 3 at Blizzard Entertainment and the current Principal Game Designer at Riot Games. In addition to mentoring many game designers, she has a range of design experiences through 15+ years of experience in the video game industry such as

  • Single and multiplayer combat,
  • Enemy design and AI
  • Game modes and narrative

In this episode, we will explore insights from Candace on how to get into the game development industry, her experience starting from a play testing position all the way to becoming a Lead Game Designer for one of the biggest games in the world and sharing collaboration stories with Alex at Blizzard.

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Watch or listen to the full episode below:


Referenced links & resources:

Connect with Candace:


Connect with Alex:


Connect with Ari:

Twitter | Instagram | TikTok

Free Game Design Learning Resources:

What is Video Game Mechanics (Beginner’s Guide)

How to Become a Video Game Designer

How to Write Game Design Document with Examples

Game Design Portfolio, with Examples (Guide)

Topic breakdown (with timestamp)

00:00 – Intro

00:45 – Greetings

01:28 – Why Candace doesn’t like small talk

03:02 – Responsibilities as a principle game designer

04:12 – How Alex and Candace first began working together at blizzard

04:39 – How Riot games utilizes embedded QA to their advantage

07:34 – The different roles in game design 08:21 – How Candace began her career

08:57 – The first game encounter Candace worked on

10:25 – The first video game boss Candace ever made

11:18 – Our Experience Working Together on World of Warcraft

13:32 – How leaving WoW helped Candace improve as a designer

14:12 – Candace’s role when working on Diablo IV and how it differed from WoW

18:11 – Stages of career development

20:15 – QA feedback in Game Development

24:30 – “My Journey to Become a Principle Game Designer”

28:36 – The challenges of starting a new job

32:49 – Mentorship in your journey

37:37 – Mid level vs senior level game designer mindset

41:16 – How to find mentors in the gaming industry

45:41 – How to get good as an Aspiring Game Designer

49:18 – Creating games on Twine

52:13 – Is networking as crucial to one’s career as people Say?

54:36 – Don’t get discouraged

56:28 – Alex’s thoughts after leaving Blizzard

1:04:25 – Advise for anyone looking to make a career change

1:05:40 – Final thoughts

What was your favorite part of this episode with Candace?

Please let us know in the comments below.