Game designers focus on the function of a game, creating systems, rules, and gameplay, and help with world-building (story and IP) to ensure it’s playable, fun, and engaging. They oversee both the foundation and execution of the game mechanics and overall user experience.
Game designers need to be highly technical and very adept at solving complex problems on a daily basis.
The job description of a Game Designer can differ slightly depending on the size and type of a project, and the studio. Typically, as games become more complex and teams become larger, some of the traditional roles of a Game Designer are separated out into specializations such as a Level Designer and/or a Systems Designer.
Level Designers focus on creating and implementing levels, environments, stories, and quests, while Systems Designers focus on designing and then implementing the minute-to-minute gameplay systems which make the game fun like controls, movement, and combat.
A game consists of many different gameplay features and mechanics, which operate in conjunction with each other to give the player a better gaming experience. Game Designers are responsible for making sure all those features and mechanics work cohesively and engagingly to help keep players entertained.
Troy Dunniway, award-winning Game Designer and CG Spectrum Mentor, outlines the most important responsibility of a game designer:
"As a game designer, you first and foremost need to be a master of HOW to make a game or level FUN, interesting, compelling, and something a player would want to play."
A game designer today could take on a number of specializations. Some focus on combat balance, using spreadsheets and simulations to provide challenges without impossibility. Others are writers and/or world directors who focus on player experience. Others hone in on game controls, trying to make them responsive and meaningful to players. Some game designers can even take on more Creative Director roles where it’s their responsibility to impart the game’s vision to other team members so that there is consistency and quality across all parts of the game.
Role & responsibilities of a game designer in the gaming industry:
CGS Game Design Dept. Head Troy Dunniway (Microsoft, Sony, Disney, EA, UBISOFT, Samsung) explains the diverse role of a Game Designer
Game designers require a balance of creative and technical skills to bring a game concept to life. They usually don’t need to be super technical, but this role does require a good understanding of some of the basic aspects of technical game design and game programming. A degree in computer science, or similar, can also be useful but is not always necessary.
Video game studios may look for the following skills in game designers:
Game designers are required to drive the technical needs of the game using industry-standard computer software and the platforms that support them.
Game designers may need knowledge of a combination of the following software:
Game Designer’s average salary per year will be around USD 65,042. Entry-level yearly wages start at around the USD 40,000 mark, with top-end yearly salaries (usually requiring years of experience) reaching around USD 102,000.
Here's your guide to starting your career in the video game industry.
3 months - 20hrs weekly
Find out what makes an addicting game, starting with game mechanics and systems, genres, level design and world building. Expect a mix of theory, paper design, concepting and hands-on practice using Unreal Engine and start building a game!
3 months - 20hrs weekly
Ideal for beginners with little or no programming knowledge! Starting with the fundamentals, you'll master the basic syntax of C++, get to know the most important programming concepts used in development, and create a simple game from scratch.
9 months - 20hrs weekly
Go from inexperienced programmer to capable Unreal Engine developer! Once you've learned C++, begin building fun 2D and 3D levels with fully interactive animated characters. Finish with a playable game and a great understanding of Unreal Engine's interface and tools.
9 months - 20hrs weekly
Using real-world case studies, you will learn how to deconstruct games, tackle complex design problems, see what makes a good user experience, bring your own ideas to life, write design documents, and develop a game pitch. Finish with a fully playable game!
9 months - 40hrs weekly
Learn game art essentials like 3D modeling and animation using Maya, Substance Painter, and Unreal Engine. As you get the hang of building assets and animating your characters, you'll develop portfolio pieces like walk cycles, combat actions, and stylized 3D models and weapons.