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What is Game Design? [Ultimate Guide with QA]

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Hello and welcome! Here is your ultimate guide for game design! You will find reliable knowledge about game design in the garbage of the internet. You can even ask YOUR VERY OWN questions in the comments. Let’s shape this ultimate game design guide together!

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1. What is game design?

First things first. I don’t know if it is faq or not; but as a game developer, I could not skip this base question. So what is game design? Generally speaking, game design is creating the whole concept of the game. What is the whole concept? The story, game mechanics, level, game balance… Everything you can document about games concerns the game designers. Yes, a game designer is not a man-of-everything; however, s/he covers all projects from the beginning to the end. S/he has point in every corner of the game. To sum up, everything related to the game is the topic of game design.

2. Is game design trial and error?

As a non-game designer, you may think like designing a game is just sitting and thinking about it. And *magically* game designer starting to hear voices whispering “you should make a game of *bla*”. Then the perfect game idea starts to shape itself.

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Well, wouldn’t it be cool? But it is far beyond that approach :). Game designers are not magicians or thinkers. And the game design is NOT a trial and error method.

Game design requires the designer should be able to look at the top of all related games, in my words.

What is looking at the top of all related games? A game designer should be aware of major games in the same genre. S/he should know their positive and negative sides. Why do people love them? What is haters common thought about your first competitor game? What mechanics are generally chosen for the genre, and how they are met by gamers? As you see, game design is far from a trial and error method. It requires heavy research and awareness of the market.

If you want to read about some techniques that game designers use, you can read these blog posts of mine: Measuring Fun as Game Designer and What is A/B Testing? – Bayesian Approach vs Null Hypothesis.

3. Does the game designer’s job finish after publishing the game?

The game is published. The game designer created and managed a comprehensive game design document throughout the development phase. Did his/her work finish after that? Definitely No.

No game is perfect after the first release. There could be balance problems among characters, playability problems among mechanics, expansion packs should be released, and so on.

To sum up; games are not finished and error-free products after they are released. On the contrary, they contain so many errors and/or enhancements that are needed to be done. Therefore, a game designer’s job does not finish after the release of the game.

4. How to become a game designer?

This could be one of the most asked questions for starters. Fresh game designers want to know how to get into the game industry, and how to earn this title.

The game industry is today’s one of the most popular industries. Increased popularity brought increased competition. Therefore, getting a job as a game designer is no easy task to achieve. Let’s first look at one of the game designer jobs to explain its requirements:



“You will be expected to wear many hats!” This quotation shows that game designers should be aware of every aspect of the game. She/he should also be aware of even the game engine’s capabilities and competitors’ strengths & weaknesses. She/he should communicate with other departments with this awareness. As you understand, in this industry, the game designer position requires knowledge and experience.

5. How to get a game designer experience without a proper job?

Competition in the game industry doesn’t easily allow you to find your dream position. However, it is not a huge barrier that can stop you from chasing your dreams. Game designing is built on experience as well as a set of principles. By not having employed cannot block your will to learn. Be aware of online resources:

And more resources are available online. Learning from them enriches your knowledge of the industry. Awareness of the industry is one of the keys to your success. Never stop yourself by keep telling “I cannot find a job”. Instead, create your own opportunities by working hard. Also while playing games, don’t just play them. Be aware of the details that make the game different. Read players’ reviews: why do players hate or love the particular game? How can you improve the game you are playing? Arrangement of levels are good enough to guide you properly through the game? Do enemies have proper strengths against you, are they too easy or too hard to defeat? Questions like these improve your critical eye analyzing games.

If you want to follow a decent course about getting a job in the game industry, my suggestion is How To Get A Job In The Video Game Industry from GameDev.Tv.