Game design is an immensely varied field. From technology-enhanced board games to AR and VR video games, game designers employ a huge range of skills and intra-personal qualities to achieve success in the field. Game design as a skill and profession is growing in demand every year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
One of the many vital skills game designers must have is strategical thinking. Successful game designers will have played a lot of games, ranging from simple to complex. In their heads, they will not only carry logical and strategical modes of thought, but they will have assessed games that didn’t work from a design or strategy perspective as well as they could have and will usually have thought about how these games could be improved.
Scoping, or exploring a game’s potential without allowing ideas to spiral totally out of control, is a key skill for game designers. During and following brainstorming ideas for a new game, game designers must choose carefully what constitutes the base foundation of a game and where there is room to include more, whether it’s additional game scenes, an expanded play board, more characters, or easter eggs.
Scoping is dependent on the availability of time, skilled labor, and, of course, money. Producing a game within the confines of a game’s allocated resources is essential to a good game designer.
Project management is closely correlated with scoping a game. From start to finish, game designers must determine the goals of each aspect of a game and allocate the appropriate resources to it. These aspects not only include the gameplay and outcomes of the game, but art, music, materials, and shipment of the game once it’s complete.
Making a good game requires not only a great deal of planning, but thoughtfulness, willingness to change the plan, and lots of patience. Applicable to everything to when game mechanics fail to when a colleague is taking a bit longer than expected to reach a goalpost, game designers need patience – not only to lessen the cognitive burden of executing any large project but to cooperate more fully and efficiently with their team members.
Beyond creativity, a sense of wonder about the craft of the game is essential to game designers. Wonder at what games can accomplish, how they are made, and how the industry makes new and creative strides every day is key to a sense of camaraderie, joy, and deep fulfillment in the many-faceted role of the game designer. Wonder can lead to amazing discoveries in game development and design – and true out-of-the-box thinking can lead to groundbreaking games that provide hours of enjoyment, learning, and fulfillment for thousands of players.
Whether designing new trading card games or intense VR sequences, these five skills are of immense value to the game designer – and will remain so throughout the life of their career.