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Job Descriptions for a Video Game Designer
By Shane Hall
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics - Jobs in Video Game Design
OverviewWorking in video game design and development combines creativity and technological savvy to create exciting and entertaining experiences for players. Video game designers start with an idea, bring it to life with story, sights and sounds, and then combine those elements using their technical knowledge. A love of games is important in a field that specializes in entertainment, but video game design requires serious creative and technological skill.
FunctionIf you have ever played a video game so engrossing and exciting that you could play for hours on end, thank the game's designer. Game designers develop the overall concept of a game, deciding its overall story, theme, and rules of play. A development team brings the designer's ideas to life, using narrative, sound, graphics, and animation to create what they hope will be a challenging and involving game. A design team often includes the following people: artists, sound designers, writers, programmers and game testers.
SignificanceThink of the game designer as a kind of storyteller. The difference is that in this "story," the player controls the unfolding of the narrative and the outcome. The designer sketches the broad framework of the game's "narrative," setting up tasks and challenges for players, and creating a maze of possibilities. The outcome of the game depends on the path the players select.
Design ProcessDeveloping a new video game often starts with a brainstorming session among designers to solidify the concept. Once that occurs, the lead game designer writes the design document. This is a detailed plan that describes all aspects of the game and how play unfolds. The design document guides the work of the artists, sound designers, programmers and other members of the development team, so it is important for the designer to clearly communicate his vision for the game.
FeaturesThe designer may handle all or most of the writing tasks for the game, outlining the narrative or plot, setting up options that players may follow and deciding the outcomes resulting from a given player's choices. She also may write game text and character dialogue. In other cases, the designer may also be the lead artist or programmer. Regardless of whether designers have any of these specific roles, they must still supervise the entire development of the game.
Education and Skills NeededWorking in video game design requires a combination of creative and technical skills. College courses in writing, performing and visual arts, and music are especially beneficial. In addition, video game designers need excellent computer skills in order to understand the technical obstacles encountered in the development of games. In addition, game designers should have excellent management and leadership skills in order to direct the work of a game design team.
BenefitsThe U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have data on salaries for video game design jobs, but reported in 2001, citing industry sources, that salaries ranged from $35,000 to more than $75,000 a year. The BLS noted that salaries vary widely across companies, types of jobs, and levels of experience.