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How to become a game designer

Up all night completing quests with a soundtrack of your computer fan spinning loudly? Game design may be your perfect career.

As a passionate gamer, you know exactly what it takes to make the perfect game. By exploring a career in game design, you can utilise your knowledge and experience to create the kinds of games that gamers like to play.

What is game design?

For game players, a game’s design is primarily what they see and experience during game play. It’s why game design one of the most important parts of game development.

On the surface, it makes up all the visual elements of the game, however, if you look behind the imagery and animation, you’ll find game designers combine their creative and graphic design skills with a knowledge of programming languages, like Java or Python, and other computer skills.

All of this behind-the-scenes development maps out how the game's components interact with one another during play, working to create a seamless experience that immerses the player into a completely new world. It also determines the types of challenges players will face, as well as the level of gameplay difficulty and how long it takes to complete challenges or quests.

What's it like working as a video game designer?

Game designers develop characters, places, and the interactive stories that make up a game. Even more than that, to create a successful game, designers frequently collaborate closely with a group of developers, authors, animators, and testers to plan out flowcharts, mock-ups, and intricate storyboard layouts. They also work with other development team members, like sound engineers, to get the right atmosphere and effects to mix the tale with the environment.

Working as a game designer will give you the opportunity to collaborate with a range of differently skilled professionals to create a finished product. You’ll also get the chance to refine your attention to details, and get creative exploring potential storylines, trials and challenges.

How do you become a video game designer?

In Australia, you typically need to have a degree in digital and interactive games, computer game design, animation, or digital media technologies to work as a game designer. There are several game design courses on offer to students, but regardless of the path you choose, it’s important to remember employers look favourably on job experience and a portfolio, even as a new graduate.

Ideally your game design qualification, like TAFE Queensland’s Bachelor of Digital Design (Game Design) (ARB302), should combine hands-on experience with university thinking. Being able to put theory into practice is crucial in setting you up for success in your game design career.

In addition to having great design and programming skills, game designers also need to have a creative flair and strong communication abilities. You'll get a grasp of the game design and production process studying with TAFE Queensland, from idea creation through the production approaches used by today's top game developers.

What do you learn in a game design degree?

A game design degree can set you up for a career in technical or creative roles. As a game design student at TAFE Queensland you'll learn to make imaginative choices about game concepts, interfaces, maps, situations, characters, stories, and game play while working on game development teams. You'll also get to hone your skills creating gaming worlds using computer-generated design, narrative images, modelling, and animation as well as creating concepts for the user interface, such as menus and controls, and working to enhance the current game.

Concept art, 3D modelling and sculpting, 3D texturing, animation, and real-time rendering are other areas you’ll gain skills and expertise in. Additionally you’ll get the chance to work on genuine commercial projects within the TAFE Queensland games production studio, collaborating with teams across the broad creative industries spectrum including actors, composers, visual artists, and other teams.

What's the future of the game design industry?

A career in game design is not only wide ranging, but also a rapidly growing industry. According to the Australian Government's Job Outlook service, demand for multimedia specialists including game developers is rising. The industry is experiencing very strong growth with over 10,000 job openings expected over the next five years.

As the industry expands, so do the various roles within game design. With a game design degree you can also specialise and become a 3D animator or game artist, a concept artist, game producer, or level, interface, or interactive designer.

A game design degree can also give you the chance to work outside of the usual consumer gaming industry. Game design is becoming an important part of the education sector, helping students to learn both in schools and as adults, as well as in healthcare settings and safety and workplace training. When it comes to where a game design career can take you, the controller really is in your hands.

If you want to learn more about game design, watch our webinar from TAFE Queensland game design lecturer, Dr Joel Bennett.