Computer games designers devise new computer games and define the way the game is played and the ‘game experience’. They develop the rules of the game, the setting, story and characters, props (weapons and vehicles) and different setups/ways the game may be played.
It is part of the game design job to convince other members of the team to develop the game. They work with programmers, artists, animators, producers and audio engineers to turn their original vision into a working game.
35 hours a week is an average in which game designers work each week, but they may need to work longer hours as deadlines approach. They work in offices and spend long periods sitting at a desk using a computer or attending meetings about the games progress and development.
Salaries may range from around £19,000 to £55,000 a year, depending on experience and company. For example a new game designer with some experience will earn around £19,000. Gaining more experience the salary could rise to £25,000 to £35,000, and lead designers could earn between £35,000 to £55,000.
A computer games designer should always be creative, imaginative and original, fluent in a number of software packages. They must also understand the market and target audience for computer games and keep up with the times. Problem solving is also a must have and obviously love to play computer games themselves.
There are on average 6,600 people in the UK work in computer games development. They are employed by games development studios, which are either independent companies or owned by games publishers. About half of the people working in the games sector are based in London and south-east England. The games market is likely to expand, and move to different areas across the UK.
Most game designers are graduates, although there are no set requirements asked when applying for a game design job. Most degree subjects are acceptable. Employers look for people with previous experience in the games industry and will always want to see a strong portfolio of own work, whether it be work created with another company, or own ideas/works. It is possible to begin a career in games design by starting out on an apprenticeship in QA and games production. Because of the level of experience required, most people are adults when they start this job.
The majority of computer game designers train on the job. They may attend short courses on technological developments and new software packages. It is vital to keep up to date with developments in technology and the games market throughout their career.
There is no formal promotion route for games designers. They may be promoted from junior designer to designer, and, with experience and management skills, to lead designer. Some designers move into management and marketing roles, or become self-employed.