How to Become a Lead Game Designer & Thrive | Osama Dorias | #8

Funsmith Fireside Chats Episode #8

Guest: Osama Dorias

In this episode, Osama Dorias goes into the different skillset requirements between a maker position and a leadership position. In addition, he shares different managerial styles to improve collaboration in a diverse game dev team setting. He also dives into how to deal with mistreatment in the workplace as an entry-level game development professional.

Osama Dorias is the Senior Partner Relations Manager at Unity Technologies. In the past, he’s worked as a senior and lead game designer at studios such as Warner Brothers, Gameloft, GEE Media, Ubisoft, and Minority Media.

Currently, Osama teaches game design at Dawson College, where he loves to empower aspiring game designers in expressing themselves through game making. He has hosted game jams, workshops, and other community activities to this end, which culminated in co-founding the Montreal Independent Games Awards.

Listen to The Full Episode


Podcast Platforms:

gds podcast listen apple podcasts min

gds podcast listen spotify min

gds podcast listen overcast min

Referenced Links & Resources

Connect with Osama Dorias:


Connect with Alex:


Connect with Ari:

Instagram | TikTok

Mentioned Resources:

Warner Brothers Games



Free Game Design Learning Resource:

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)

Episode Chapters (with Timestamp)

0:00 – Introduction

3:59 – Osama’s initial intention coming into the industry

4:43 – How did Osama end up working with different games and genres

7:00 – Advice for aspiring game design students to choose their sub-discipline

9:05 – How to be passionate about working on a game genre you have no interest in

11:19 – What is a progression system in game design

17:34 – Why game designers must be flexible

24:45 – Why is leadership training needed

25:44 – How to contextually adapt your managerial style

38:39 – How to stand up for yourself in a junior game dev role when you face prejudice & ignorance

56:43 – How to resolve mistreatment inside your team

More Guest Quotes From This Episode

“One of the things that I try to pass on to my students whenever they ask me about that is that they don’t have enough information at the beginning to make the choice. They need to jump around a little bit until something sticks, until they realize what kind of designers they are. Try it out a little bit and see what’s a good fit for you.” Osama Dorias

“The industry has started to acknowledge more openly now that the skills you need to lead a group are not the same as being the guru of a group, as well as not the same as the person who plans and schedules the entire organization.” Osama Dorias

“Leadership training is eye-opening, there are situational skills that you could apply in different situations instead of thinking this is the thing that you could apply all the time. If you have a path that people can take optionally or at least explore to see if it’s a good fit, it’s better than just the reward track.” Osama Dorias

“One of the problems in the managerial style is that if something’s going bad, being too optimistic is not good. The more useful approach is to hear out some solutions and think if you have a more measured and analytical approach to it, and you still show empathy. You’re in the trust of the team, and in the end, they understand. You have to have situational leadership, and when or when not to micromanage.” Osama Dorias

“It’s a skill to develop all the different managerial styles that exist to foster them, learn from them, and figure out when to apply, it makes you a better manager in the end. It makes your team happier. This is similar to being a teacher, having different teaching styles and learning styles.” — Osama Dorias

“The way you fight ignorance is with knowledge. There was no ill intent, and the proof is once I started speaking up, change happened, and change happens quickly. I think that’s important for people to understand. It’s not until someone has reached a certain level of power and stability in their position and within the ecosystem of their industry that they have the patience, the trust, and the safety to take those risks.” Osama Dorias

“If there’s an injustice to your team, if there’s something wrong, speak to your direct manager or supervisor only and see how they deal with it. If they’re not willing to deal with it, don’t do anything… …bide your time to come back and fight when the time is right.” — Osama Dorias

“The power to move another person is limited by the strength of the cord that connects you. That means, when someone just meets you, you’re gonna have to establish relationship over time,and have their goals, interests, and a shared set of values in mind. That thread grows into a rope, or a cord, or a chain at which point, then you can take immense leaps of faith and requests from other people. If you try to pull harder on the connection than it exists, it will always snap because the connection is not there.” — Osama Dorias

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

By the way, whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways to help you start or level-up your game design career:

1. First Principles of Game Design: Skill Development Program: Join game devs who got hired or promoted across 51 AAA and Indie game studios including Riot, Blizzard, Ubisoft, Bethesda, and etc.

Improve player retention and word of mouth by learning to accurately diagnose why the players are losing interest in any game and how to adjust accordingly – one of the main skills studios hire for.

2. Game Design Mentorship – Get access to live weekly video calls and chat feedback support directly from veteran game designer with 25 years of industry experience (see example sessions).

3. Game Design Career Goal Strategy Workshop: A live workshop to help you figure out exact action steps to reach your goal, whether you aim to

  • Break into the video game industry
  • Get promoted (or pivot) from your current position
  • Ship a successful Indie game

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All tactics. No fluff . Pro advice only. Unsubscribe any time


[STUDIO] Blizzard Entertainment: Content, mechanics, and systems designer

(Creator of Apex Legends & former Creative Director at Respawn)

[GAME] World of Warcraft: MMORPG with 8.5 million average monthly players, won Gamer’s Choice Award – Fan Favorite MMORPG, VGX Award for Best PC Game, Best RPG, and Most Addictive Video Game.

  • Classic:
    • Designed Cosmos UI
    • Designed part of Raid Team for Naxxramas
  • Burning Crusade:
    • Designed the raid bosses Karazhan, Black Temple, Zul’Aman
    • Designed the Outlands content
    • Designed The Underbog including bosses:
      • Hungarfen, Ghaz’an, Swamplord Musel’ik, and The Black Stalker
    • Designed the Hellfire Ramparts final bosses Nazan & Vazruden
    • Designed the Return to Karazhan bosses: Attumen the Huntsman, Big Bad Wolf, Shades of Aran, Netherspite, Nightbane
  • Wrath of the Lich King:
    • Designed quest content, events and PvP areas of Wintergrasp
    • Designed Vehicle system
    • Designed the Death Knight talent trees
    • Designed the Lord Marrowgar raid
  • Cataclysm:
    • Designed quest content
    • Designed Deathwing Overworld encounters
    • Designed Morchok and Rhyolith raid fights
  • Mists of Pandaria: 
    • Overhauled the entire Warlock class – Best player rated version through all expansion packs
    • Designed pet battle combat engine and scripted client scene

[GAME] StarCraft 2: Playtested and provided design feedback during prototyping and development

[GAME] Diablo 3: Playtested and provided design feedback during prototyping and development

[GAME] Overwatch: Playtested and provided design feedback during prototyping and development

[GAME] Hearthstone: Playtested and provided design feedback during prototyping and development

[STUDIO] Riot Games: Systems designer, in-studio game design instructor

(Former Global Communications Lead for League of Legends)
(Former Technical Game Designer at Riot Games)

[GAME] League of Legends: Team-based strategy MOBA with 152 million average active monthly players, won The Game Award for Best Esports Game and BAFTA Best Persistent Game Award.

  • Redesigned Xerath Champion by interfacing with community
  • Reworked the support income system for season 4
  • Redesigned the Ward system
  • Assisted in development of new trinket system
  • Heavily expanded internal tools and features for design team
  • Improved UI indicators to improve clarity of allied behaviour

[OTHER GAMES] Under NDA: Developed multiple unreleased projects in R&D

Game Design Instructor: Coached and mentored associate designers on gameplay and mechanics

[STUDIO] Moon Studios: Senior game designer

(Former Lead Game Designer at Moon Studios)

[GAME] Ori & The Will of The Wisps: 2m total players (423k people finished it) with average 92.8/100 ratings by 23 top game rating sites (including Steam and Nintendo Switch).

  • Designed the weapon and Shard systems
  • Worked on combat balance
  • Designed most of the User Interface

[GAME] Unreleased RPG project

  • Designed core combat
  • High-level design content planning
  • Game systems design
  • Game design documentation
  • Gameplay systems engineering
  • Tools design
  • Photon Quantum implementation of gameplay

[VC FUNDED STARTUP] SnackPass: Social food ordering platform with 500k active users $400m+ valuation

[PROJECT] Tochi: Creative director (hybrid of game design, production and leading the product team)

  • Lead artists, engineers, and animators on the release the gamification system to incentivize long-term customers with social bonds and a shared experience through the app

[CONSULTING] Atomech: Founder / Game Design Consultant

[STUDIOS] Studio Pixanoh + 13 other indie game studios (under NDA):

  • Helped build, train and establish the design teams
  • Established unique combat niche and overall design philosophy
  • Tracked quality, consistency and feedback methods
  • Established company meeting structure and culture

Game Design Keynotes:

(Former Global Head of HR for Wargaming and Riot Games)
  • Tencent Studio
  • Wargaming
  • USC (University of Southern California)
  • RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology)
  • US AFCEA (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association)
  • UFIEA (University of Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy)
  • West Gaming Foundation
  • Kyoto Computer Gakuin – Kyoto, Japan