4 Tips for Becoming a Successful Video Game Designer

The video game industry is a constantly growing sector. According to Accenture, the industry surpassed $300 billion in total value last year. As technology continues to evolve, competition will continue to heat up among the world’s largest game development companies that are looking to release better titles and innovative experiences.

Image: Pexels / Ryutaro Tsukata

This gives aspiring video game designers enough space to carve their career paths as creative professionals. Experienced designers in the field earn as much as $90,000 a year or more depending on the success and sales volumes of the projects they are involved in.

There’s a lot you need to learn and experience as a video game designer, but following the right steps should help you thrive in a career that many people consider a dream job. Here are five tips to help you through this journey:

1. Learn about the scope of video game design

Before diving into the industry, you need to have a good idea of what exactly a video game designer does. The sector consists of a wide selection of career paths for professionals across different fields. Apart from technical fields like programming and software engineering, you also have creative options that include art direction, video game writing, and animation.

Video game designers have the responsibility of putting the technical and creative elements together to create a successful video game title on Steam that’s entertaining and functional. In addition to writing stories and designing characters, video game designers also help in developing the overall look and feel of a project before launching.

There’s a lot more you will need to learn about video game design, so take time to watch or read about the gaming industry and the creative and technical work that’s put into every project.

2. Get the education you need

Being both a technical and creative field, video game design requires learning skills across a variety of aspects, including computing, art direction, and animation. Due to this, there are no shortcuts you can take to become a video game designer. You need formal training, especially in a field considered a foundation of video game design.

For this, you might want to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in a discipline like computer science or computer programming. Other designers would start their training by getting a degree in animation or fine arts and enrich their knowledge by taking additional courses. If you want to shorten your career trajectory, some institutions offer degrees in video game development.

Even if you haven’t taken up a related degree in game design, you can still start your career path by taking up online courses and certification programs. No matter the case, you will need to stay up to date with every new trend that comes along. Even if you have a degree in video game design, you still need to be flexible in learning new concepts and tools that are gaining ground in the industry.

3. Don’t forget the legal aspects of video game design

Designing a video game doesn’t end with creating a playable title that gets a lot of attention in the market. You should also learn the legal issues that play a role in the success or failure of your project.

As a form of intellectual property, your video game is at risk of being reproduced illegally. There’s also a good chance that it will be used to produce bootleg copies. As you learn how to create a video game from scratch, you should also know how to get copyright protection for your video game. You should also use a licensing solution if you plan to sell your game on Steam or develop VR sports simulations using gaming engines like Unreal Engine or Unity.

By learning the legal side of video game development, you should be able to launch and sell your game without any letup and protect it from any attempt to pirate your game.

4. Build a portfolio of sample projects

Whether you are looking for a job at a major video game studio or an independent developer, you need to let potential employers know that you are the right person they’re looking for. To do this, you need to be equipped with a portfolio that showcases your creative and technical skills.

Your portfolio should be both informational and attractive. It should also reflect the level of experience you have in the field. Make sure to include a demo of an independent game you are working on. You should also include concept art, character designs, and story pitches so studios will have a better understanding of your creative credentials.

Consider using platforms like Behance or Coroflot where you can upload your best work. Make sure to include your portfolio on your LinkedIn profile or Facebook page so recruiters can easily see your work.

If you want to become a successful video game designer, it’s a steep climb from where you are right now, but following these tips should take you to where you need to be in this competitive and fun sector.
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