What is a Game Designer?
Game designer wears many hats. This is especially true in a small indie team.
Whether game designers are part of a small or large company, they play an important role in ensuring that all aspects of the game development align with the initial vision of the creators.
They are entrusted with the responsibility of streamlining the communication between different departments and resolving any conflict that arises in order to create the best video game possible.
Dive deep into what it means to be a game designer in this video.
Lesson 1 Transcript
What is a game designer?
A game designer is the one who is the backbone of the team. They’re the one who makes sure that everyone stays focused and everything that gets created from all of the disciplines across game development meet that one initial vision.
This role will look very different though, depending on where you’re at. If you’re a solo game developer or in a small indie team, odds are as the game designer, you’ll actually end up doing lots of different things such as programming, art level design, management, PR, all of that.
And that’s because in a small team, the game designer doesn’t really have the ability to just focus on making sure everyone does their job because there’s so few people, they also have to contribute more.
But at the heart of it, the game designer is still the one that makes sure that everything that gets done, so that coding, the art, the PR, all of it lines up with that initial vision that the game designer had for the product.
But if you’re in a larger company with dozens to maybe hundreds of employees, the game designer role is going to be very specific. Your job will be to make sure that the game stays focused. And the vision is always what’s being worked on.
And that is going to mean communication, communication and more communication. And I really do want to stress that because as the game designer, you’re going to be the one going between lots of different people, groups, views and ideas.
So the game designer and a large company has to go to programmers, talk to them, figure out what’s working, what’s not what they want to do, and then go to the artists and do the same thing to the level designers, to the music, to the sound effects, to the PR, every single set of employees, the game designer is going to be communicating between and making sure that they all understand what the goal is and that what they’re creating leads to that goal.
And that’s not nearly as easy as it sounds because programmers are typically very logic and goal oriented. Artists are much more likely to be freeform and want to do their own thing.
Both sets need to be able to communicate. And when you try to communicate between different opposing views, then conflict happens. So as the game designer, you have to resolve that, figure out what each side is actually trying to do and make sure that both sides are happy and the game is continuing to be created.
And so whether you’re in a large company or a small company, the role of the game designer is to make sure that everything that gets done is to that initial vision of the product. And sometimes that initial vision is not going to be the designer himself or herself.
So if you are a part of a large company, odds are you’re going to be working on something that someone hands down to you, whether that be from an adaptation of a book, a movie, a TV
Show, a sequel, a spinoff of a different game, or something like that. A lot of times you’re not going to have total creative control of what you get to make.
Now the thing that you work on, you’re going to have a lot more control over how that is interpreted. But the actual vision, a lot of times, depending on the size of the company, you’re not going to have any say in that.
And so if that’s a turnoff for you, then you may want to make sure that you work in a smaller company where you have more power and your ideas are actually what you get to put forward and have the team work on.
Now, that’s not to say that the game designer is the one who says how everything is going to go. Each person on the team contributes their ideas, their feelings, and their thoughts to the project, which will influence both the play, mechanics, leveling story, all of that stuff.
The designer, depending on the size of the team, is going to have the final say.
If you’re working in a larger team, then you may have a project manager that you have to refer to and that they actually have the final say. But whatever the case is, the game designer is going to be the one at the heart of all of it. They are the backbone of every games company.
And as such, they’re the one who has to have a huge range of skills in communication. They need to know how to program to do some art, to how to do everything because they have to communicate with all of those people.
And that means the more that they know about those subjects, the better communicator and the better they’re going to be at being able to bridge those different fields to create the best game possible.
So if that sounds like something you’re interested in, then great. This course is going to be perfect for you.
We’re going to discuss tons of different game design ideas such as difficulty forms of feedback, audio, and so much more. But if you’re a little more interested in the programming side, don’t worry. This course we’re going to go over and make three complete awesome games as well, so that you’re going to have the knowledge to go and make whatever game you want to create.
And that’s because whether you want to be a programmer or a game designer, you’re going to benefit from this course and just learning as much as possible both about the programming side and the designing side.
But now that we’ve talked about what it is to be a game designer, I want to talk about what it is to be a programmer. So let’s tackle that next.