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  • The Disciplines

    [06.03.09]
    - Albert T. Ferrer
  •  Jobs in video game development can be categorized by discipline. In this article reprinted from sister publication Game Developer's Game Career Guide Fall 2008 issue, we explain what the major disciplines are, what kinds of job titles they hold, and what makes each one appealing to different types of people.

    Game Designers

    Game designers typically determine the overall vision of a video game. Much like film directors are to movies, designers are known for having a large influence (creative or otherwise) on the direction a game takes, from the early concept stage to final release. Ideally, a designer should be knowledgeable in different aspects of game development, since the role itself calls for collaboration with various departments: art, programming, production, quality assurance, talent (voice actors), audio, and marketing.
     
    Depending on the size of a game development studio and the needs of the product, designers can take on various roles. Sometimes they do a bit of everything, while other times they are assigned only a few specific tasks. These specialized tasks can include designing levels, working on gameplay, placing enemies in a game, or writing the game’s dialogue.

    The pecking order among game designers is design director, lead designer, and junior designer—and there are dozens of titles in between those benchmarks. Much of a game designer’s job involves writing documentation, called the game design document. The design document is made up of both text and diagrams, and it conveys different areas of the game in a relatively clear yet technical manner. Its purpose is to give a sense of how the game will work. The design document is similar to a manual, but with much more detail on how each aspect of the production will work and how it all interrelates.

    Being a game designer is a complex role. It’s more about maintaining, implementing, and executing ideas than solely coming up with a storyline and some characters. Being an avid gamer is simply not enough, which is why a good designer should have a well-rounded education. Creating a game is a collaborative effort of many talents, and oftentimes results in compromises between what the designer wants and what the other departments can provide.

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