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Home » Which Job in Video Game Design Requires the Best Writing Skills?

Which Job in Video Game Design Requires the Best Writing Skills?

A designer’s job is not an easy one, as it’s not only about making pretty pictures. There are lots of pitfalls that they need to avoid, as well as several critical success factors that must be satisfied in order to succeed in the industry.

And speaking of success, the most in-demand job titles in video game design right now mostly require a combination of talent in both art and programming. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those are some highly paid professions.

So if you’re looking to make an industry-relevant degree with a profitable future, you’re going to have to take a couple of creative writing classes in college. What is video game design and why should you study it? Let’s find out.

The Basics

Video game design is the art and science of creating video games. A game designer primarily creates the rules and constraints of a game (i.e., what’s referred to as a “game design”) while also making sure that the game follows those rules and is presented in a aesthetically pleasing way (i.e., “artistic style”).

While it might seem like a piece of cake (haha), designing a video game is actually a very complex process that takes lots of time and attention to detail. That’s why most game designers do this as a full-time job, as it can take a while to get both the experience and paychecks needed to make a living. This industry is definitely not for the faint of heart (or students who want to get into video game design for the money).

The Roles

There are lots of roles that you can potentially take on as a game designer, and each has its perks and quirks. Here’s a short summary of some of the more traditional roles and what they entail.

  • Gameplay designer – This individual is in charge of coming up with an engaging gameplay that makes the player keep coming back for more. The gameplay designer also has to take into consideration all of the different platforms (e.g., mobile, web, etc.) that the game will be available for.
  • Art director – This role entails the technical direction of a game’s art (e.g., setting the lighting, choosing the colors, etc.) as well as making sure that it fits the vision of the developer(s) (i.e., the creators of the game).
  • Level designer – Similar to the gameplay designer, the level designer is responsible for making sure that the gameplay works within the constraints of the hardware and software of the given platform. Additionally, the level designer has to take into consideration all of the different environments (e.g., indoor, outdoor, etc.) that the game will feature.
  • Visual designer – This person is in charge of making sure that the game looks as good as new once it’s released; namely, that the graphic design and animations are stunning and that there aren’t any glitches or major problems that could arise from using certain software or coding techniques. Additionally, the visual designer has to conform to the standards and guidelines set by the art director and producers of the game.
  • Programmer – This is the person who writes the software necessary to make the game work. They are usually also responsible for coding gameplay elements that are unique to the platform that they’re working with. Additionally, the programmer has to be extremely detail-oriented and have a good understanding of both software and hardware. (They might also have to work on a team with some other programmers to make sure that the game runs as intended).
  • Writer – The writer is, simply put, responsible for writing the bulk of the game. They are usually also the primary source for voice-actors, and are thus mainly responsible for the narrative of the game. However, the writer can also take on the role of game designer, depending on the project.
  • Compiler – A compiler takes existing code (usually in a high-level language such as C or C++ or even Fortran) and converts it into native machine code (e.g., x86 or ARM) that the platform can actually use. Additionally, the compiler has to take into consideration all of the different platforms that the game will be available for (e.g., mobile, PC, etc.).
  • Mangler – The mangler is basically the person who takes an already-compiled version of the game (i.e., the binary) and removes all of the excess code so that it’s more portable. This usually entails making sure that the file is correctly formatted (i.e., the layout of the various elements, such as the code and data, are done correctly) as well as removing unused code (i.e., code that is not needed for the given platform) and renaming or organizing existing code so that it’s more readable/maintainable by other programmers. (This is also a position that can be played by a designer, though it’s much more common for programmers to do this).
  • Tester – The tester is, simply put, responsible for testing the game to make sure that it’s operating as intended. They usually do a lot of debugging, going through each level and finding all of the glitches and problems that they can (hopefully, not too many). Additionally, the tester has to pay close attention to details and be able to find any inconsistencies or errors in the design or implementation of the game. (They might also have to find ways to improve the game based on their findings).

The Perks

As you might expect, a video game designer’s job is very creative and can be a lot of fun. Not only do you get to brainstorm new ideas and concepts, but you also get to see your creations come to life through the medium of video games. And depending on the size of the company, you might also get to work with some of the best creative minds in the industry. (Though, as noted, it’s not for the faint of heart).

The Quirks

There are lots of quirks that come with a job in video game design, the biggest one being that it’s incredibly busy. Most game designers will tell you that there’s rarely any time for fun (or even for sleep) due to constant crunch time. This is why having a job in video game design isn’t for the faint of heart or those who want to do it for the money only. It requires a certain mindset that is both creative and practical.