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So You Want To Be a Game Designer – Career Advice for Making Games – Extra Credits


Every week, We’re asked the question: This is an incredibly complicated question. One that James has had to
wrestle with both vocationally, and pedago…. This word. But this week, We’re gonna try to give you the best answer
we’ve been able to come up with. So, What should you learn
if you want to be a game designer? You ready? Seriously, Game Design is
the art of crafting experiences. And you’ll find yourself
drawing on everything you have. To a great game designer, There is NO useless knowledge. But, not all of us have the time to
learn everything that ever was or will be, before starting to design experiences. So, what should you focus on? Well, First, you can start with the
game designer’s single, most core skill. As you start to build games, most of you would find that you have to work with
interdisciplinary teams. Teams formed of people with
radically different skill sets, and backgrounds from you. If you work on video games, you’ll have to work with artists, programmers, designers, producers, sound guys, marketers,
and business people. If you can’t communicate the experience you’re trying to design to each of these groups, the quality of your ideas would not matter because these are the people
that translate those ideas into an experience that reaches the world. The tricky part here is
how different all these people are. I know it’s a horrible generalization,
but I’m gonna say it anyway. Artists and Programmers have a totally opposite, diametrically
opposed way of approaching problem. And it’s your job to make both of those
people share the same vision. Which brings us to our next point. And this is extremely important. A game designer is not
the same as a director. Your job is not to be a dictator: demanding people to implement
your brilliant ideas. Everyone who touches a game
influences its design. Even if you don’t intent from them to. When your programmer
writes a physics system, the choices he makes are gonna
impact the design of the game. Anyone out there who thinks that the designer is the guy who gets
to decide what the game is, has some serious desolution with ahead of them
before they can excel at this job. Speaking of common misconceptions, here’s another important tip. Game design is not the job of
creating fabulous stories, or coming up with concepts for games. Concepts are cheap. Every one of you budding designers probably have 5 or 6
you can pull out right now. Even if you don’t want to
get into game design, probably come up with
1 or 2 game ideas over the years. Hell, I’d be a terrible game designer but, even I can come up with 2 or 3. Not only your game concepts cheap, but they’re also pretty meaningless. At the end of the day,
the best selling franchise of all time is about an Italian stereotype
in hallucinogens. One of the most lotted concepts of
the last few years was, First Person Shooter, Anne Ran, underwater. Go. Real game design is a lot of
hard-wrote work. creating systems, mechanics and levels, Concepts are great, but if that’s what you want to do, you probably better find another field. There isn’t just any room in the game studio
for a specialized, idea guy. Every game studio is full of idea guys. And everyone who works there has ideas. Good ones. What studios are looking for are people who can make
those concepts to reality. Another important thing that every
game designer has to learn eventually, is that you are the worst judge of your games. Especially early on, when you can justify away the flaws, It’s easy to fall into the trap of saying that people just don’t get it because
they haven’t seen the finished product. This is almost never true. Introspection and the ability to take
criticism are core designer skills. Don’t let yourself get
too attached to your ideas. Because you’ll always be wrong. No great game has ever, ever sprung
fully-formed from a game designer’s head. Games need players. Players themselves design
half the experiences of their play. Being able to accept that
your idea didn’t work. To be willing to give upon
that idea you loved so much because it just isn’t working, and try something else. These are the hallmarks of
a great game designer. Next, game design is a disciplint. Just because you played a lot of games or a whole lot of a specific game does not mean you’re
prepared to design games. Most of the time, designers don’t play games. They study them, and analyze them. They deconstruct their systems
and test all their break points. A designer who figure out where
all the triggers are located, and then try to figure out why. They’ll reverse engineer the math
behind the principle systems. Designers are as fascinated by
what makes an experience unfun, as by what makes it fun. Additionally, a game designer must understand
the cost of the decisions they make. Whenever you make a decision as a designer, what you’re really doing is
asking people to do work. That work represents time and money. And you have a finite amount of work
that will ever be done on your project. Your job as a designer is to ensure the most bang for your buck. I know this may not seem like
that big of deal but, this is the number one
cause of failed games. From the giants of the AAA industry to the small fry hobbyist motors, more game projects fail because of
teams with the poor sense of scope than any other reason. As a corollary of that point,
understand that no game has ever done. Never. During the process of
putting your game together, I guarantee you’ll find things
you should’ve done differently, and discover countless other
amazing things you could do. File those ideas away. Or, at least realize how incredibly expensive usually is to expand the scope of your game mid-stream. Remember. At some point, you must ship. You can’t work on your game forever. And you haven’t made a game
unless people are playing it. On top of all that stuff, here’s a list of many practical skills you’ll
need if you want to be a game designer. #1. A high level of technical writing skill. That’s technical, not creative writing skill. I’m talking about grammar,
spelling, and punctuation here. I’m sure that this isn’t a problem
for most of you but, For some of you… Nah, like I said,
we do read the e-mails. #2. A solid grounding of logic, #3. Some basic psychology, #4. Understanding the
medium you’re working in. You’re gonna be building an electronic game, so learning the fundamentals of
how a computer works would be a good idea. #5. A solid grasp of mathematics. At least through advanced algebra. Those skills will prepare you
to be decent game designer. Now. You want to be a
really good game designer, you’ll also need… #1. A thorough knowledge of
literature, philosophy, and myth. #2. An understanding of world religions. #3. Basic scripting and programming ability. #4 An understanding of art principles. You don’t have to be a great artist, but you do need to understand art. If you happen to be able to sketch,
or throw together a collage on Photoshops, so much the better. #5. An understanding of basic
audio design and musical principals. If you have it already,
go pick up an instrument. It’s good for the soul, anyway. #6. A practical knowledge of graphic design. #7. A thorough internal library
of games to reference. This is where having played
a lot of games will help you. The more games in genres
you’ve experienced, the more you’ll have to draw from. But most of all, you’ll need life experience. As a designer, your crafting experiences. You cannot do this without having some yourself. Knowing all about video games, anime, or Star Wars expanded universe isn’t gonna cut it. Go live. A well balanced, well examined life
will make you a great designer. Last and most obvious of all, Make games. If you weren’t sure where to begin,
you can always start with pen and paper games. Things you could put together
out of chip and poster board. or, if you’re dead set on jumping
right into electronic games, We recommend Gamemaker
for the PC owners, or Gamesalad if you got a Mac. Both of these programs are free, have a lower barrier to entry, and will teach you the logic of a computer without expecting you to already
have a lot of programming knowledge. Be Brave. Be Bold. Create. Bring us new experiences, and
help to expand the language of games. Good Luck.
and See you next week.

100 Replies to “So You Want To Be a Game Designer – Career Advice for Making Games – Extra Credits”

  • I’m an artist and a programmer. Problem solving in each is the same, not opposed. The foundation is different. The issue is 80%-90% of programmers suck, but non-programmers can’t tell because they don’t know what good code is. It’s not like art where you can instinctively see the aesthetic.

  • If you're really dedicated to being a game designer are there any required art fields needed? I'd really like to get started on my career, but it seems like having some sort of art background is a must have.

  • THIS is impossible to do…to be. If you combine just a few of these skills, im sure you could become a decent game designer. Still thanks for the many information about it. It's so sad how many great ideas wont ever be realised!

  • I know I'm really late to this video, but I have to say, while I wasn't so sure if I was still interested after watching the video, having the advice from the rest of the comments really helped. The Video was the facts, and the comments were the… uh… Encouragement(doesn't really make an opposite to facts like that sentence should feel…)? Welp either way, thanks Extra Credits for pushing me to a cliff, and the comments for catching me, now I know to stay away from the edge.

  • Now not all the game designers know about maths and that kind of stuff, just the basics.
    Eiji Aonuma is actually an artist.
    Miyamoto is industrial designer.
    Cory Barlog as far as i know was a lead animator.

  • Thanks for telling us about the skills we need to be a game designer I always wanted to be one heck that’s still my goal job this that damage my motivation to become one but I am determined to become one so now I know what skills I need to work on thank you and I hope I will be able to join the game designing team

  • It's fucking ridiculous to tell people to learn about such specific stuff like religion, myth, math, etc. Hundreds of game designers do great games without ever knowing (or implementing) such knowledge

  • Sir, I practice policy making and accounting and though our fields are very far from each other the things you've just said resonated with me so well because many of those reflect how I grew up in my work as well. 🙂

  • I've just came here because WUWO Gaming told me to! Plus, I like the intro & outro music! Perfect for my radio & TV idents!

  • I do want to make video game and I had one or two game I want to create but that harsh however I will do whatever it take to become director and make the interesting games

  • Game Maker is amazing as long as you don’t get too ambitious with your project. It has a lot of great tools, but you’ll often have to make a new tool out of what’s given to you if you use game maker.

  • I remember watching this and not realizing the intro music was just remixed Mario 64 music when i was, like, 12 or something. boy, do i feel somewhat embarrassed…

  • I've studied 2 years of Computer Science and I am currently studying Literature. So I think I have most of the skills. Sadly, I live in a 3rd world country without a game industry :/

  • hey, now we r going to enter 2019, how bout a new video ? cause times have really changed or for my perspective they have. 🙂

  • Another good place to start, especially for those who are as terrified of having to code I was, is the engine Stencyl which helped me to learn how to make a basic game without any previous experience. Even though I never had to code, it really helped me to understand the principles and get me confident enough to finally learn.

  • Well suck my gammar suck ass we need to boost our school education or mine brain .. or my game designer will never come true..

  • sssssooooooo………….. what if i have not had a good life and had a really REALLY HORRIFIC LIFE. filled with tragedy, death, betrayal, and abuse? does that mean my best type of games will be dark and heavy?

  • We are all born unique artists of our own life…….we are all born game designers…….who do we design to please……the world you see or the world within.

  • I came here thinking I wanted to be a programmer come to find out I almost have all the necessary skills to become a designer

  • Been wrestling with myself about what to do with my life and I always thought that being an idea guy was a good push towards the gaming industry. However I suck at math and want nothing to do with it. Also I don't think I could be a good artist. Maybe down the road I can market or advertise for a game, or be a community manager for devs and ip's I believe in. Anyway, thanks for the wake up call.

  • Alright nope I'm not becoming a game designer… What was I thinking!? xD

    Edit: Well I don't know… I can probably develop all those skills for a GOOD video game designer in about 3 years old School, and taking classes for them… The thing is, will I succeed if I tried? :/

  • Question Is A Game Designer Also A Game Developer And Do you Have To Join A Company To Start Making Games?

  • 2019? I really want to be a game designer but am put off by thinking I have to know how to use Unity or something fluently. Is this true?

  • " desginers don't have to play lot of games"
    Next time we wonder why this AAA games doesnt have basic feature in it (free multiplayer mode for fucks sake) we know why.

  • Well my entire idea of a game designer just went out the window. Thank you for enlightening me on my journey into creating games!

  • This is a cool video but I wish you explained why some skills are important, like religion or psychology because I don't really get it.
    Also, I'm not sure if that video means I'm on my way or not… I mean I don't even know if it's Game Designer I wanna be, I just want to be part of the creating process of a game (starting from my idea or not, even if I do love to write up game ideas) and help ideas to see the light of day! Which is why I'll never give it up as an hobby at the very least!

  • I still don't understand the difference between designer and director. Aren't systems, mechanics, and levels all just concepts?

  • I love how I can't find the list of game genres from easiest to design to hardest in your endless labyrinth of videos. Like it's the one thing I want to remember. This is horrible.

  • I applied for lead design for a community game design :')
    I already look like I know what I'm doing…I just want to know that I know what I'm doing Xl

  • I'm actually feeling a lot better after watching this.
    For the past year ive been writing an idea (and then developed it for a plot and so on) for a really big game. I felt really awkward for reading about so many things while researching ideas and inspiration for this game,
    And I have to say- Wikipedia's "random article" button is a lifesaver. I've never thought I'd read about long gone empires and fashion trends in early medival europe just so I can get an inspiration for a character or a certain point in the plot

  • I wanna be either a concept artist or scriptwriter. I love making up stories and creatures and bringing them to life.

  • I don't think mathematics, sound design, and such things are skills that some game designers like Shigeru Miyatomo, Eiji Aonuma, the creator of the Drakengard and NieR series, who is just the writer.

  • You dont explain how these things will help me, or give an any examples? How the hell is studying philosophies going to make my RPG, fantasy game a good game and make me rich?

  • ok, my mind must work weird or something, cus when he asked the question "what do you have to learn if you want to become a game designer?" I out loud said "everything" and then the next frame he says this.

  • so in order to be a good game designer and make a good game you need to know most of the basic and important concepts of game designing and being able to agree on one idea to be the base of your game

  • I love the idea of being a game designer, but I don't like programming. I can do it, and I've already taken a Comp Sci I course at my college, but I just don't like to write code out.
    Do Game Designers need to program? Or is knowing how the language works (if then, do while, C++, Java, Python, etc.) enough on it's own?

    I realize this is the wrong place to put it out there, but hey. If SOMEONE who has a clue reads this, leave a like on this comment with your response below.

  • Just got accepted to the university for Video Game Design. Kinda nervous… I always liked video games and I'm already familiar with programming in Java and with some game engines like Unreal Engine. Learned some photoshop as well but nothing special. Any tips?

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