Game designer

From Academic Kids

A game designer is a person who designs games. The term normally refers to a person who designs computer or video games, but it can also refer to one who designs traditional games, such as board games.


Video and computer game designer

Missing image
This early version of the design document for Scooby Doo: Mystery of the Fun Park Phantom shows the dynamic nature of game design. As the cover of the 100+ page design document shows, it was originally planned to be called Scooby Doo: The Mystery of the Gobs o' Fun Ghoul.

A video or computer game designer develops the layout, concept and gameplay: the game design of a video or computer game. This may include playfield design, specification writing, and entry of numeric properties that balance and tune the gameplay. A game designer works for a developer (which may additionally be the game's video game publisher). This person usually has a lot of writing experience and may even have a degree in writing or a related field (such as English). This person's primary job function is writing, so the more experience they have with the activity, the better. Some art and programming skills are also helpful for this job, but are not strictly necessary. Game designers often have studied relevant liberal arts such as psychology, sociology, drama, or philosophy.

In the video game industry, the job of game designer is one of the hardest to obtain. It is not easy, though many people (especially teenage boys) think they "have what it takes" to perform this job. Almost everyone in the game industry has what they believe is a "killer game" concept and is waiting for the opportunity to develop the game. As a game designer, they may get the opportunity to develop that game concept, so competition is usually very high.

Since a video game publisher may invest millions of dollars towards a game's development, it is easy to understand why they choose game designers carefully—one or two poor game concepts could end up costing them millions of dollars of revenue and could even risk bankrupting the company. For this reason, game publishers usually choose game designers who have a proven track record with several hit games under their belts. Less seasoned designers may be assigned to low profile games that have budgets in the low tens of thousands.


Early in the history of video games, game designers were often the lead programmer or the only programmer for a game. This is the case of such noted designers as Sid Meier, Chris Sawyer and Will Wright. This person also sometimes comprised the entire art team! As games became more complex and computers and consoles became more powerful (allowing more features), the job of game designer became a separate job function, with the lead programmer splitting his time between the two functions, moving from one role to the other.

Later, game complexity escalated to the point where it required someone who concentrated solely on game design. Many early veterans chose the game design path eschewing programming and relegating those tasks to others.

Today, it is rare to find a video or computer game where the principal programmer is also the principal designer, except in the case of relatively simple games, such as Tetris or Bejeweled. With very complex games, such as MMORPGs, designers may number in the dozens. In these cases, there are generally one or two principal designers and many junior designers who specify subsets or subsystems of the game.

Notable video and computer game designers

Other notable game designers

External links



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