4 Steps to Getting Started in Gaming Design

4 Steps to Getting Started in Gaming Design

Concrete Advice to Turn Your Hobby Into a Career

With elements like virtual reality, 360 gaming, e-Sports, and visual technology developing at lightning speed, the gaming industry is growing exponentially and the growing job market is a coveted one by many young designers. But, like with everything these days, fledgling designers need experience to even get their foot in the door of a possible career in the industry.

How does one go about getting experience to get a job when experience is required to get the job in the first place? The solutions are out there on the internet, along with everything else. It just takes a little skill, some know-how, and a lot of passion to dig them up. According to Forbes, some of the most sought-after skills that many designers tend to underinvest in include visual design, coding, presentation skills and good old-fashioned grit. Perhaps the true problem lies in that many young designers don’t know where to begin or which courses and classes to choose.

Learning and Education

LibraryIn our day and age, people can find just about anything online. With new games coming out every week, it comes as no surprise that a lot of online content is focused on the gaming industry. A countless number of individuals are passionate about how games are made and there are various ways to learn the ins and outs of game design.

Now this all sounds easy in theory. A growing plethora of colleges and various design majors already exist that can teach you all about it and a young aspiring designer is expected to just go out and pick one. (Read more about the 50 Best Video game Design Schools & Colleges here →) In practice, this means looking through a long list of formal four-year university majors, smaller specialty schools, programs offering flexible schedules or even online courses that offer certification for those not in a position to attend on-campus classes. The choice only seems to become more difficult when all options are taken into account, but it's all really a matter of personal preference and choice and desired style. Education, constant learning, continuous development or skills and keeping up with the advances in gaming design are a must to getting started in the field.

Finding a Niche and Style

Finding a personal style in design and art can be difficult, especially with the skyrocketing growth of possibilities in the industry. Through the decades, gaming and design have both changed time and time again - with new styles, mechanics and niches popping up almost daily.

Surprisingly, a large part of previous, established formats and skill sets survived, bloomed, and even evolved to their higher forms. Looking at the more popular ones, the differences and development of gaming design over the years are clearly visible, even to the untrained eye.

Great examples to look at and learn from are Breath of the Wild and Overwatch or Dishonored 2 and Civilization VI all demonstrate just how far the industry has come. All high-earning games with such remarkable variations and an example to anyone who is looking to build a career as a game designer. Finding a style and niche can always and only be done through experience and that experience often begins with exceptional games themselves.


Building a Portfolio

In any industry and career, a resume and portfolio do matter and will always be the reason you were hired over somebody else. But creating a portfolio as a designer can be tough, time consuming, and sometimes expensive. Companies in the gaming industry are overtly apprehensive about hiring inexperienced and new designers, although they are always looking for original, fresh, youthful ideas.

One of the ways to fix this issue is for aspiring designers to set out and work on their own, sometimes for free or by designing games and characters for themselves. Spending as much time as possible on honing skills and creating design samples that can be shared with potential employers is the way to go. Social media and a personal website are also a great way of getting all of this work out in the open and seen. Often, the hard work pays off and gaming companies are specifically on the lookout for this kind of talent and initiative.

Landing a Gig

A fair amount of designers turn towards freelancing, rather than working for one single company at a time. This has its benefits - from cherry-picking projects to setting one’s own work hours and clients. However, getting decent paying gigs, dealing with clients, and finding time for it all can get a little tricky. There’s a whole slew of advice from freelance design communities available online on this topic alone - and taking that advice from more experienced peers is the best way to start.

Some important things to do are to make sure past work and portfolios are visible and to remain clear about client’s desires, scope of work, pricing, and deadlines. Communication and understanding your clients' needs and desires is also very important, but it can be difficult at times, which is why it is best you answer any questions they may have, describe your work experience up to that point and carefully read their job descriptions. Actually managing to land a paying gig, even as a freelancer, is often half the job done. And with enough freelance gigs under a gaming designer’s belt, a full-time career with any of the major companies in the industry soon becomes a reality.


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