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Real World Game Design

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Video games are amongst the most successful forms of media; basically we all grew up on them, playing Atari (or Nintendo/Sega) as kids. Then Nintendo 64 & Sony Playstation 2 came along and now most of that generation is older and wants to get behind the process; like film fanatics wanting to direct. However, to get into the game industry; and succeed once you’re in, means you should develop a range of skills, and master one (the saying “the power of one” means there is more strength in one main skill then in skimming multiple) that is to your liking. Today’s employers are looking for a strong portfolio of work from game artists and designers alike.

The twist to the entire concept of making it into the industry is that it’s not all about your portfolio or even your work experience. Video games are mostly developed in intensive team environments, and so increasingly every year employers are looking for excellent communicators, both in writing and verbally. To stress this, you have to understand the power of teamwork, since you have to work well with others if you want to create a breakthrough game or any game at all by that matter.

Also, it’s very common to see people who want to get into the industry because they “just love video games”. There are a lot of people in the “love” category, but you also should have a deep understanding of game genres and can knowledgeably express yourself about the nuances of either the gameplay or art direction.

So some general qualifications recruiters are looking for in top candidates:

Game Artist:

-Handle different art styles & have a strong portfolio that could showcase a few strengths.

- Be familiar with 3d production tools like 3DSMax or Maya.

- Got to have an eye for lighting, surface detail, and color if your interested in texture art.

- Be ready to handle criticism; giving or taking, and prepare yourself (if not already having) the ability to work in a team environment.

Game Designer:

- Be organized and communicate well (both written and verbally)

- Have a good knowledge about game genres, and design philosophy, and constantly educate yourself about it.

- Of course have a passion for games, but also a vision and passion for the process of making them.

- Any kind of previous contribution to an already existing product, this could range from a “mod”, school project, or (if already in the industry) a previous retail product.

Knowing your audience and console will make or break your game, so 3 key questions to keep in mind if you want to be a professional Game Designer: What does the player do? Who’s this game designed for? What platform is this game going to run on?

In short, the Game Industry is booming, but like any other industry your longevity and success ultimately comes down to who you are as a person, networking with other individuals, and “what else can you contribute to the team, studio, and industry?” If you want to succeed be passionate about video games and art/design for itself and not for big money or fame.

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