How to get a job in Video Game Design
Having the chance to work in the video game industry is a dream job for many, especially game design jobs. It is something most gamers would love to do but how can one make it a reality? For those looking to score one of these dream game design jobs that are available, there are things you can do to increase your prospects.
What is Game Design?
Traditionally game design is the heart of the game. You’ll work with the engineers to bring the functionality to the game and the artists to bring the face to your creation. There are many types of game design, working on the overall theme, but also level designers who will work on sub-sections of the game and could include the game environments, working on the progression from one area to another. There are design mechanics, working on the functionality, often working to tweak settings for play-ability and fun factor. Where you start on this journey will depend on the studio but expect to start small, learn, and take your opportunities.
The Traditional Path to a Game Design Job?
More people than ever are getting into video game jobs thanks to the ability to be self taught. While having a degree makes it easier to get a job, it’s not a necessity. Having the needed skills still gives you a good chance to get one of the many video game jobs available. Starting in a different role lower down is an opportunity to gain more experience working on games before looking to get a game design role.
The path to game design is ever changing. Modern game design classes, or even a more broad study of design such as product design is a good direction. One benefit to this is getting that degree that can help you relocate, especially abroad if that interests you, but also to tick the filtering box on a job application site these days.
What other Skills or Qualifications could help?
Skills that are important to possess include:
• Communication skills – generally an important life skill
• Time-management and organization skills – an ability to meet deadlines is always important but especially when working with a team in the games industry with such a deadline driven process
• Technical skills – a understanding of game engine mechanics such as Unreal or Unity are a good grounding to have
• Problem solving and critical thinking skills – especially important in level design and puzzle mechanics
• Traditional design skills such as graphic design, interior and environment design- these can help you design game environments, lighting, atmosphere as well as UI elements
• Storytelling and creative skills or English writing courses – it is a useful ability to be able to convey your ideas to others who will build those worlds, characters and UI elements. If a studio does not have a writer, you will also need to consider character dialogue.
Boosting Your Game Design Job Resume!
Having the right skills and qualifications are important but not enough to land a game industry job. The competition will also have these skills, so what can help?
Improve your resume so that it can stand out from the rest? When trying to get a game design job, having “extra” things on your resume will make all the difference between finally landing the job and being turned away.
• Make video games yourself – Learning about game development and being able to have a physical product to show an employer is a huge bonus. Even if it is only making levels in games such as Mario Maker which shows your ability to design and problem solve. Being an experienced modder is also a good way of showcasing your skills.
• Write reviews – Being a writer might not sound like an obvious resume booster but being able to show you can identify and analyze features is great for game design. It shows your analytical side, understanding what is important in game mechanics, and a ability to identify and offer solutions to the game is also a great selling point.
• Active gamer – Playing a wide scope of game genres gives you the chance to see different mechanics in action and understand what is popular, or does not work. This gives you a greater ability to design games across a wide variety of genres. It also means you understand the common features of the different genres which also makes it easier for you to utilize them in games.
Having the right connections can help give you an introduction, or get your name in front of a hiring manager. Website communities such as Gamesmith let you find and talk to other video game professionals. While you connect with your network, you can research game development studios using their studio search function (here). Look to see what jobs are available with their job page (here).
Get involved with your local game dev hub community. You can search for groups on the International Game Developers Association (IGDA). These days many are holding virtual meet up events to discuss aspects of the games industry, or game projects, do do not feel limited to your location.
Take part in any game jams. The Global Game Jam is the big one, but there are numerous smaller events with different themes and scope, ranging from a day to a weekend. It is a great opportunity to gain experience from other developers and to get a finished product that you can use as a demo to show your understanding of game design, all while building more connections within the industry.
If you enjoy this kind of content and would like to keep up-to-date on industry trends and network with other gaming professionals, head over to Gamesmith and create your free account today. It’s quick and easy and always free.
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