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  • A man wearing a striped jumper and glasses is sitting at a desk, using a computer.  There are two large monitors on the desk.  On one of the monitor screens, there is a colourful game.

    Computer games designers create ideas for computer games and apps, and help to decide the way they look and play.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, using a computer with two screens.  On one screen there is a spreadsheet containing a long list that has been colour-coded.  There is an apple on the desk, to the left of the keyboard.

    Designing games is made up of lots of tasks. The designer is updating the task list.

  • Two men are sitting next to each other at a desk.  One of the men is using a computer; there is a yellow and pink animated character on the screen, on a black background.  The other man is pointing at the screen with a pen.

    Working with an artist to get the design and the colours just right.

  • Two men are sitting side by side at a desk, looking at a computer screen.

    Showing a design to the development director.

  • A man wearing a striped jumper and glasses is sitting at a desk.  He is drawing in pencil on an A4-sized pad of paper.

    Sketching a rough outline for a game.

  • Three men are sitting at a table in an office.  One of the men has a smart phone and the other two are looking at something on the phone.  There is a large whiteboard planner on the wall behind them.

    In a planning meeting with a developer and the development director. Several games are being developed at the same time, and there are deadlines to meet.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, looking at a magazine with lots of tiny computer game characters on the opened page.

    Games designers must keep up to date with design trends. They read trade magazines regularly.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, playing a game on a smart phone.

    Designers need to play lots of games, to check playability and to keep up to date.

  • Computer Games Designer

Computer Games Designer

Introduction

As a Computer Games Designers you will create ideas for computer games and apps, and help to decide the way they look and play.You will begin with an outline that sets out the story of the game or app, and also shows a list of the game's features.

Also known as

  • Designer, Computer Games
  • Games Designer, Computers
  • Level Designer
  • Video Game Designer
  • Video Game Systems Designer
  • Video Game Mechanics Designer

Video: - Mark: Computer Games Modeller

Work Activities

As a Computer Games Designer, you will help to decide the way games look and play.

Games are developed for a number of different platforms. These include PCs (personal computers) and laptops, consoles (dedicated games machines), mobile phone apps, tablet apps, online via the internet (including social network platforms) and through smart TV.

There are several different types of Games Designer, each specialising in a particular area of the game. These include:

Level Designer

As a Level Designer you will be responsible for creating the digital environment of the actual game, and for placing the game's characters and items (enemies, weapons, obstacles etc) within that created environment. You will also need to make sure the the games objectives are clear to the player - what do they have to do to move on to the next level?

Quest Designer

If you choose to become a Quest Designer, you will have the exciting job of creating, designing, planning and implementing quests within games. This could include creating the narrative structure of the quest (the storyline), writing dialogue, and producing a quest script.

World Designer

As a World Designer, you will be able to let you imagination fly, and create your own world. You will create the space in which the game takes place, including the size and type of landscape, the weather, and the actual time cyles which underpin the game. You might create a city with buildings and streets, and decide whether the sun will shine - or maybe it is night time? The choice is yours.

Encounter Designer

Encounter Designers, as the title suggests, are responsible for creating the encounters, or enemies that players will take on as they play the game. You will plan, design and implement just how these enemies will behave in the game, including the use of weapons, spells and dialogue. You will work closely with the whole game design team to create new characters, locations and enemies, to provide the game player with exciting encounters.

Cinematic Designer

As the Cinematic Designer for a game, your main role will be to design, create and edit the video game background scenes. Working closely with the World Designer and Level Designer, you will need to make sure the the different game scenes flow smoothly. You will need to understand the intended speed of the game - how fast does it need to change from one scene to another? You may be using specialist 3d cinematic software, such as Maya, Sds Max or Motion Builder.

The different roles listed above all overlap in many ways, and in whichever role you choose, you will be working as part of a tightly-knit team. This team could also include graphic artists, writers, musicians and developers/programmers. The team is often led by a product manager.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Computer Games Designer, you'll need:

  • an enthusiasm for, and good knowledge of, computers and computer games, platforms and popular games culture
  • good verbal and written communication skills
  • a strong visual imagination
  • the ability to work with highly complicated, multi-stranded specifications and programs
  • creative design skills
  • business skills
  • a logical, methodical approach

For some types of computer game, scriptwriting skills are also important. Some programming knowledge and ability is needed. However, computer games designers do not necessarily have to be expert computer programmers.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

Computer Games Designers earn in the range:

  • Starting: £29,000 - £34,000
  • With experience: £37,500 - £45,000
  • Senior positions: £49,000 - £55,000

Salaries might include performance-related pay, profit share or company bonuses.

Hours of work

You will usually work 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday. However, late finishes and weekend work might be required, especially as deadlines approach.

Some Designers are employed on a short- or fixed-term contract basis.

Where could I work?

Employers range from large firms involved in creating, publishing and marketing new games, to smaller software publishing houses that specialise in a particular range of games, and tiny studios employing only a few people.

Opportunities for Computer Games Designers occur in some towns and cities throughout the UK.

Opportunities for Computer Games Designers occur in other countries, including France, Germany, Finland, the USA and Japan.

This career could involve working for an agency.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in specialist magazines/websites such as Edge and Develop, on IT job boards and employers' websites, in national newspapers, on Find a Job and at Jobcentre Plus.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

A degree isn't essential for this job. However, degrees in relevant subjects are available at many universities. In order to get onto a degree course you will usually need at least two A levels.

An A level in an IT or design based subject would be a great help.

So now is a great time to start planning your route through to university. IT and design based subjects at GCSE and A level would help you to stand out from the crowd.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

Work Experience

If you really want to become a Computer Games Designer, then you should think about getting relevant experience in another industry first. This will give you a great advantage, when game design opportunities do appear - and above all play games! Get to know exactly what is happening in the gaming world.

Progression

Experienced Designers might become Team Leaders and then Design or Project Managers.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in specialist magazines/websites such as Edge and Develop, on IT job boards and employers' websites, in national newspapers, on Find a Job and at Jobcentre Plus.

Qualifications

Most entrants have a HND or degree; relevant courses include computer games design and graphic design.

You will usually need a portfolio of your work to show to prospective employers. Level editing software often comes packaged with a game when it is sold, allowing players to design their own levels for games. This can be a good way for aspiring Designers to improve their skills and build up a portfolio of work.

The usual entry requirements for a degree course are:

  • 2/3 A levels
  • GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in 2/3 other subjects

Alternatives to A levels include the International Baccalaureate Diploma and BTEC Level 3 qualifications in:

  • game design and animation
  • games design and app development
  • media, design for games and ICT
  • professional competence for IT and telecoms professionals
  • interactive media, design for games and ICT

However, course requirements vary so check college/university websites very carefully.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Access courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course could be the way in.

These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.

Further Information

Queen's University Belfast

Irish enquiries

Website: www.qub.ac.uk

ScreenSkills

Skills for the creative industries

Email: info@creativeskillset.org

Website: www.creativeskillset.org

Creative Choices

Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills

Email: info@creative-choices.co.uk

Website: www.creative-choices.co.uk

The Tech Partnership

Skills for business and information technology

Address: 1 Castle Lane, London SW1E 6DR

Tel: 020 7963 8920

Email: info@e-skills.com

Website: www.e-skills.com

BCS: The Chartered Institute for IT

Address: First Floor, Block D, North Star House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FA

Tel: 0845 3004417

Email: custsupport@bcs.uk

Website: www.bcs.org

Big Ambition

Email: bigambition@e-skills.com

Website: www.bigambition.co.uk

Bring IT On

Irish enquiries

Website: www.bringitonni.info

Blitz Games Studios

Email: info@blitzgamesstudios.com

Website: www.blitzgamesstudios.com/blitz_academy

Guardian Technology

Address: Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU

Tel: 020 3353 2000

Email: tech@guardian.co.uk

Website: www.guardian.co.uk/technology

Creative & Cultural Skills

Skills for craft, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts

Email: london@ccskills.org.uk

Website: ccskills.org.uk

Chartered Society of Designers (CSD)

Email: info@csd.org.uk

Website: www.csd.org.uk

Getting into Art & Design Courses

Author: James Burnett Publisher: Trotman

Website: trotman.co.uk/our-books/getting-into-art-and-design-courses/

Hiive

Hiive is the online professional network for creative people.

Website: app.hiive.co.uk/

People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales

Email: peopleexchangecymru@gov.wales

Website: www.peopleexchangecymru.org.uk/home

Train2Game

Website: train2game.com

Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

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Cymraeg

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