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What a Games Designer does

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

What is a games designer? A games designer is a person who designs video games. They use programs to create the characters, they storyboard and the graphics. They also write the programs that allow the users to interact with the game. The gaming industry did not begin to develop 1960s and 1970s, when computer programmers at some large universities big companies, and government labs began designing games on mainframe computers (Ferguson page 57). Over the years the gaming industry has grown at an alarming rate. As technology grows so did the game designing industry. Since the gaming industry is so large, many people that have a dream to make games can do it. When interviewing with Terri Banker, he said the most important professional qualities for game designers is to have an interest in communicating with other people, and developing interesting things as a group. And being thoughtful, creative, and patient. But when some people try to get in this industry, they don’t know what it takes to successful game designer. To become a successful game designer, they have to know the background information, education and training requirements and the daily duties with the profession.

The background information is the history of game designing. Steve Russell was perhaps the first video game designer (Ferguson page 56). In 1962, when he was in college, he made up a simple game called Spacewar. The graphics of space ships flew through a starry sky on the video screen, the object of the game being to shoot down enemy ships. Nolan Bushnell, another early designer, played Spacewar in college. In 1972 he put the first videogame in an arcade. It was a game very much like Spacewar, and he called it Computer Space. However, many users found the game difficult to play, so it was not a success. Bruce Artwick published the first of many versions of Flight Simulator. Most games were designed for video machines. Not until the later 1970s did specially equipped TVs and early personal computers begin appearing. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, designers working for Atari and Intellivision made games for home video systems, PCs (computer), and video arcades. Many of these new games had graphics, sound, text, and animation. Designers of games like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Space Invaders were successful and popular. Richard Garriott created Ultima, another major role-playing game. Games began to feature the names and photos of their programmers on the packaging, giving credit to individual designers (Ferguson page 57).

Workers at Electronic Arts began to focus on making games for PCs to take advantage of technology that included the computer keyboard, more memory, and floppy disks. New technology included more compact floppies, sound cards, and larger memory. Designers also had to create games that would work on more than just one platform such as PCs, Apple computers, and 64 bit video game machines. In the 1990’s, Electronic Arts started to hire teams of designers instead of those who design games from start to finish independently because it was so more sufficient. Larger teams were needed because games became more complex. Design teams would include not only programmers but also artists, musicians, writers, and animators. Designers made breakthroughs such as using more entertaining graphics, creating more depth in role playing games, using virtual reality in sports games, and using more visual realism in racing games and flight simulators. This new breed of designers created games using techniques like Assembly, and HyperCard. By 1994, designers began to use CD-ROM technology to its fullest.

At some high school there are game design programs may be offered. Even though a college degree isn’t required to be a game designer, most companies are looking for creative people who also have a degree (Ferguson #59). There are many degrees for game designs such as BAGD and BSGD. A BAGD (DigiPen’s Bachelor of Arts in game design) is an interdisciplinary degree program that prepares students to become designers and artists for the electronic and digital entertainment industries. The BAGD faculty works with companies like Nintendo software technology Microsoft, and EA. The BAGD faculties come from a wide range of backgrounds and include individuals with professional experience in game design, development, and art at companies. A BSGD (DigiPen’s Bachelor of Science in game design) is an interdisciplinary degree program that stresses the importance of having the technology, ability to write computer programs, and also a solid grounding in the humanities and social sciences. The BSGD curriculum is the game industry requires versatile and knowledgeable personnel, and most game designer job description list skills that include scripting and tuning as well as art design. Graduates of this program are prepared to work in the video and electronic game industry (www.digipen.edu). When interviewing with Terri Banker, he was asked what advice you would give high school students who are interested in this career. He responded if you want to start making games, you don’t need anyone’s permission, start now! Not only make them, study them and play them and play them with people. Figure out what goes right and what goes wrong, then fix it and start over. I would say go to college for computer science, art or any other discipline that interests you. Game design is so broad that most career paths will be able to lead you there, but it’s always good to have a skill that can get your foot in the door. Do things! Play games, watch movies, go to theater plays, etc. Game design is about creating meaningful experiences. The more experiences you have the better designer you will be. Experiences do not have to be game related though, just as an example I’ve worked at a hotel most of my life doing all sorts of things, also a telecommunications company and even a dredging company. I feel all of those experiences save contributed in many different ways to shape my design philosophies.

Game designer have many daily duties. Daily work varies greatly, and it will depend on what type of game you’re designing, what type of designer there are and what stage of completion the game is on. Initially, they will be crafting a broad design of the game in broad strokes, what do they want the game to be? As the game moves along they will need to define all the features and make a plan for everything the player will be able to do in the game. Then it’s their turn to design these activities down to their details, and design the ways activities and features interact with each other. They will also need to design all the game’s systems, the mechanisms and gears that hold the game together. It will be their job to make sure everything is good enough to put in the game and to make sure that everything fits together nicely. Then they’ll need to take point on the polish of the game, so that it feels professionally done and provides a quality experience. Each of these steps is iterative, which means that you won’t get any of them right on your fires try. They will have to try different things, test them, to see how they fare, adapt, re-design tryagain. When interviewing with Terri Banker, he said this is another one of my favorite parts, I usually don’t know what the day is going to be like! This makes it very exciting. One thing to keep in mind though, is that you still work eight hours a day or sometimes more, have meetings, use excel and send emails just like at any other job. One was the most important professional qualities of a game designer is teamwork, listening, communicating, adapting and compromising. The responsibilities for a game designer is to designing the layout and game play of a video game and to heavy coding and programming skills.

In conclusion if they love to play games, understanding how games worked, and trying to mess with the worked then game designing is a perfect career for them. Terri Banker advice for new game designer staring out is to play a lot of game and make a lot of game. To find a job in the industry include going to job fairs where they find recruiters looking for creative people to work at their companies, and checking in with online user groups, which often post jobs on the internet. To have better opportunities to advance their position and possibly earn more money, computer and video game designers have to keep up with technology (Ferguson page 61). They must be willing to constantly learn more about design, the industry, and even financial and legal matters involved in development. With background knowledge, education and training and daily duties of the profession, this is what you need to know to have a profession in game designs.


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