A Day in the Life of a Game Designer

Game designers work on a team and what you do depends on your role within the team. A great deal depends on cooperation; you must work well with others. Everyone works in pieces designated by the lead developer, and your chunk must fit together with the chunks created by the rest of the team. The chunk you're working on will depend on the specific skill set you've developed, influenced by what genre the project falls into. Depending on your skill level, you might find yourself working on anything from level backgrounds to character scripts to making the level boss scary. For each level of gameplay, there might be a cast of interactive players, a set, some creatures, animals or beasties, objects, lighting, background, animated water or wind features, plants, sky, rocks…and each of these might be interactive, animated or inanimate. Your job may vary from day to day based on deadlines. Deadlines are crucial. One unfinished chunk can bring the entire team to a halt. Every designer has a responsibility to the team and to the job to bring his work in on time.

In addition to your own chunk of the development pie, you would be helping others by proofreading and play-testing pieces newly implemented. Every second of gameplay must be tested in every possible way to see how people might potentially break the game. But no matter how many ways the designers find to break it, once released to the public, gamers will find new ones.

As a designer, your responsibility encompasses more than just the game. Your idea might be brilliant, but so what? It also has to be marketable, commercially competitive, and economically feasible. Above all, it has to have fire. It has to capture the imagination of the team and excite them to the possibilities. If the team doesn't get it, neither will the public. You might be surprised to find that you will also be expected to interact with sales and marketing teams, customer service, and focus groups. Games are big business.

Another important aspect a designer can never overlook is competition. Designers cannot live in a vacuum of their own design. They must know what's out there and also what's on the horizon in order to remain competitive.

So the answer to "What does a game designer do all day?" is: everything and anything. Games are so complex that he might be called upon to do a thousand different tasks. If he is the lead designer, he is charged with the responsibility of bringing his own vision to life. Nothing could be more rewarding than that.

Some sage words from the pros:

"'The player is paramount' is a phrase all game developers should remember. Great game designers have a certain amount of love or respect for their players. If you're not helping your players feel happy and fulfilled in some way then you shouldn't be making games at all. Don't make games just to express yourself. Don't make games just to impress other game designers. Think about the players too. Make games that are fun, games that satisfy, games that make your players feel like you care." - Duane Alan Hahn

"The successful people are the ones who can think up things for the rest of the world to keep busy at." - Don Marquis

"I love the atmosphere, I like the creativity, and I like implementing the ideas once the creativity has done its job. The hours can be long, but it's all worthwhile." - Chris Avellone

Latest Game Design Articles & News

Detroit holds first annual design festival
Detroit will be hosting its first-ever design festival in order to promote designers in all fields in the area, according to The Detroit News.

National Design Award ceremony takes place next Tuesday
The finalists and winners of this year's National Design Awards will be having their annual ceremony a little late this year.

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