Skills Needed to Become a Video Game Designer

Written by patrickl
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Skills Needed to Become a Video Game Designer
Learn to design video games by first developing an educational foundation in math, art and communications. (controller image by Thommi from

The video game industry generated approximately £13 billion in total revenue for both 2008 and 2009 (according to the research firm NDP Group). Growing from its origins in the early 1970s with "Pong," the video game industry is now a regular part of U.S. culture. In 2008, the Pew Research Center found more than half (53 per cent) of all U.S. adults identify themselves as active gamers.

In order to become a designer in this growing industry, you will need to master and blend numerous skills. First, understand the role of game designer and how to become one. According to Sloperama Productions, game designers aren't entry-level positions. You will need to prove yourself in other capacities with a game company before you can design.

Math Skills

Start preparing for your game design career before college by familiarising yourself with several types of math. Aside from general math, Northeastern University recommends you take (and master) courses in calculus, physics and trigonometry. These forms of math are integral for understanding programming language. Get comfortable with discussing algorithms, variables, functions and formula outputs. Understanding advanced math also helps you shape and design objects within a game (including how objects physically interact). According to Northeastern University, the sooner you learn advanced math, the more time you can devote to designing and programming.

Art Skills

Beyond programming, game designers also assist with the graphic elements of a game. You need more than the ability to draw or paint. You need to develop art on a computer too. When you first start, create your images within programs like Adobe Photoshop or Macromedia Flash. Northeastern University recommends developing art with these simpler programs to give you the foundation to excel with more advanced design programs. You can also use this initial art to create your first portfolio. Good art skills help you show what you want in a game to other team members, and it adds to your options for entering the industry (for example, you can start as an animator or concept artist).

Communication Skills

According to Northeastern University, game companies put a large emphasis on designers' communications and social skills. These skill sets strengthen your ability work in a team environment by understanding how to collaborate and clearly convey your ideas. Show your proficiency in these areas by writing clear and concise résumés and cover letters, compiling professional portfolios with analysis, and speaking with knowledge and confidence during your interviews. Prove you can sort through complex design ideas and challenges and communicate it in a way that others can understand. Beyond helping you work in a team, strong communications skills will also help you shape a game's story. According to Sloperama Productions, a game designer is a storyteller, first and foremost.

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