Think that working with video games all day sounds like the perfect job for you? Well, it may sound like good fun, but becoming a designer is a lot of hard work and you have to make sure it’s the right job for you.
Many people aspire to become a game designer, but don’t understand exactly what is expected in the role. Designers often work as part of a team and come up with the game’s concepts, story, setting, characters, and game play. However, this only constitutes about 5 percent of a game designer’s job. They also research other games, build 2-D and 3-D models, and create graphics, animations and visual effects. Designers work throughout the entire process of development and ensure the vision of the game is realized during each step from concept to prototype to release.
About 55 percent of game designers are self-employed and work as consultants, and many work at home. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a game designer or multimedia artist in the United States was $65,300 in 2016.
If you’re still inspired after reading the basic run-down of the role, here are some steps to help you become a game designer.
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Do you need a degree to become a game designer? Many game designer jobs require only a high school diploma. However, you will definitely want to get a bachelor’s degree. This is because the gaming industry is a highly competitive field and you will want to do as much as you can to set yourself apart from other candidates. To increase the chances of finding a job, obtain a degree in game design, game art, animation, game development, or computer graphics.
Learn to Draw
This may sound like a no-brainer, but some people overlook the qualification of free-hand drawing because much of a game designer’s job is now done on computers. However, having the ability to draw or sketch your vision will help you to communicate your ideas better. Many of the best game designers, such as Shigeru Miyamoto even started out as an artist.
Learn to Code
You don’t necessarily have to become a coder or a programmer, but your job will become a lot easier if you understand the basics of at least one coding language. You can communicate better with developers and suggest ways to tweak or edit prototypes in a way that they will understand. A coding language will also greatly boost your resume when you apply for a job at a gaming company.
Build a Portfolio
Just like any arts-related career, you will need to build a portfolio that you can use to show potential employers your work. Start on paper and come up with designs for a potential video game. Then, move your designs onto the computer screen with tools like Game Maker or Stencyl, which are easy tools to help you learn how to build a video game without the need to code.
You may even want to enter a Game Jam to get more exposure in the industry. At game jams, people from around the world get together to complete a game in a set amount of time – usually within 48 hours. During these jams, you can meet like-minded individuals and you can also get your work seen by professionals and potential employers.
It will take hard work to get noticed in the gaming industry, but as long as you’re dedicated and take the time to promote your career, you will be building dream games in no time.
Jess Walter Contributor