Within a game development team, the designer is the person who keeps the game's vision coherent and plans out how everything is going to work in the game. They make sure that the experience that the player has when playing the game is like intended. Communicating this vision for the development team and making sure that everyone is on the same page when creating the game is one of their main responsibilities.
It is a common misconception that the designer is the one who comes up with game ideas. Everyone has ideas! Your job as a designer is not to come up with ideas, but to refine them. As a designer, you have to get comfortable with the fact that most of your ideas won't make it into the final game.
Click on the flashcards to learn about the duties of a game developing team.
Designers tend to be artistic individuals which means they’re creative, intuitive, and expressive. Game designers are often jacks of all trades because, in order for them to be able to clearly design different areas of a game, having some level of understanding about all disciplines is necessary. Naturally, if you get hired as a combat designer, for example, being a talented artist most likely isn't going to be one of the requirements. However, having a wide range of knowledge will never be a downside, and it will make communication easier between the designer and different members of the team.
“The most important skill for a game designer is listening.”
-Jesse Schell, SEO of Schell Games
As a designer, one of your most important skills is listening. Listening to your team when they say that they're unsure if some of the features fit the game. Listening to your players when you see them enjoying something more you never thought they would. And listening to yourself, your feelings, and your past experiences.
When you're communicating with your team, you're just not telling them what to do. You and the team have played the game more than anyone, so you have to listen to them when they come up with new ideas or raise concerns. Be confident in the decisions that you've made but have a backup plan for when the plans inevitably change.
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Now you know some of the basic requirements of a game designer. Everyone, of course, is an individual, and there are many types of designers out there. Next, let’s look at those types.