Brief Introduction to Game Design

Why brief? Because, in order to explain game design properly, this short article would be pages long essay. Game design is a vast and complex field, that requires several different skills like computer programming, graphic design, and creative writing.

 More and more people are drawn to the idea of working in game design since it offers a lot of job opportunities and high starting salaries. However, one must begin this journey prepared. It is not enough that you love playing video games or that you are good at computer science. Being part of a game design team requires skills but also a vision.

What is Game Design?

Game design is a part of the game development process. It starts with conceiving then planning, developing, and directing an electronic game in which the users later control images on a display. The focus of the game design is broad, so the skill set of a game designer is also vast. These skills have to come from different fields such as programming, creative writing, and graphic design. Moreover, the game design requires knowledge in logic and human psychology in order to create a desired effect with the audience. 

Roles in A Game Design Team

There are different roles in a game design team, and each one as important as the next. Some of the most popular roles are:

  1. Level designer – the person in charge of creating different game levels and their characteristics
  2. Game writer – the person who writes a detailed storyline of the game
  3. Game artist – the person handling everything from concept art to game graphics 
  4. Programmer – the person who is in charge of computer programming the mechanics of the game
  5. Interface designer – UI is very important in the game. It is the player’s way of communicating with the world inside the game. For each game, there is a person or a team of people who create the best possible interface. 
  6. World designer – this person is in charge of the environment and the setting that makes the player’s surroundings. 

The Process

Similar to a film director, a video game designer must first envision the technical, artistic, and conceptual elements that are required for that game to give to a certain experience to the players. Furthermore, game designers must understand the limitations they are facing when building a game (what is possible and what is not). Some of these limitations are external (hardware o which they game will run on), and others are internal of nature (depends on the level of the skill set of each individual member of the team).

The following step would be outlining the story. Every member of the team must be aware of the nature of the story as well as the details surrounding the character in-game. This first step is probably one of the most important ones since there shouldn’t be any major changes in the story from this moment on. 

Additionally, the game designer has to plan out all the other seemingly insignificant details like the pacing of the game or where will rewards and punishments be if any. Basically, it means that the designer has to map out every dependency within a game. When the designers come to this step, they usually rely on a framework. The designer who uses MDA framework would normally start by setting the constraints which will determine player behavior. This is referred to as the mechanics of the game. The how the player interacts with the game is called the dynamics of the game. And finally, a detailed explanation of what the user should feel while playing the game is the aesthetics of the game.