Report article RSS Feed What a game designer needs to know?

Many abilities can be useful for a game designer, some of them we can’t even imagine. I can give as an example the study about typography that Jobs has done and ended up as a huge step to computer science at the time. Back to game creation, here I will enumerate the conventional and most important skills to market game creators.

Posted by thiago.attianesi on Mar 16th, 2012
Basic Design/Concepts.

2D and 3D Design

Games need a beautiful look. Ok, you can say “Minecraft didn’t neet it and look at its success”, “Anyone could draw Tetris”. Fair enough, these are facts, but the majority of new games need a strong team working on design, sound, programming and also on game art. That said, the great need for the designer is to be able to find ways to work 2D or 3D art, explore how are they going to be shown mechanics and so forth give the world something new to be seen. Hint: using tautology here can be a benefit.
Obs: Art is the game’s calling card. (I’ll talk more about this in future posts)


You will go after what your audience want to feel, want to experience, want to live and is not even aware of this need. It’s not about a poll of what the gamer wants in the game. It’s about finding out in his profile something which would make him happy, entertained, and mainly satisfied with the game.


You will not make the design of a house or building, but whole empires, cities, palaces, and even orc houses in the middle of an imaginary forest. Having certain familiarity with architecture will give you a better notion of people/creatures and their living space. Besides the huge advantage you’ll have creating worlds much more realistic. (When I say reality, understand as your fictional world reality, the physics rules that applies to it which can be similar or not to the real world)


Having brainstorming skills will really help as a game designer. You’ll have to imagine dozens, or better said, hundreds of new ideas and solutions to lots of contradictions and mechanics, which will appear during the evolution process of the thoughts. No, you won’t have to think about your game all alone, but you should fit ideas and create rules for it, giving sense to kingdoms, beings actions, fight motives, players motivation e so on.


You should give your player a real experience, limited by his digital interaction. You want to move your player, and a great help to it is on learning from the movie industry. Almost all recent games use teasers, cinematics, endings and similar stuff. So, to raise your power of producing experiences to the player, mastering some areas from cinema will give you a huge advantage.


You have much to tell, not exactly with your voice, but definitely with written words. I’ll be necessary to talk to people from all specialties exampled here and a lot more. You’ll talk to your team, will solve a lot of problems with them, with the audience and the client. Having the power of communication will give you advantage of knowing how all of them really feel about your game.


You’ll need mainly creative paperwork. You’ll create whole worlds, creatures, populations and events that happen inside them. Of course, you can’t forget the technical part, and you’ll need to express clearly the most complex ideas, because if you don’t do it well, your idea will seem distant, something to be produced in the future, or never.


Like it or not, Gamedesigner is a market job, and the market works based on many kinds of transactions, and all of them are linked to money somewhere. So, to have better chances to produce your dream game, you’ll need to negotiate with producers, publishers, freelancers, investors, supporters, amongst others. They should buy your idea.


Games today are much more complex about this factor than ever. There is a whole reward system to keep the player tied to the game, as not being too powerful or too weak to the challenges, and also to feel valuable inside the game. Further than the factor that comes from old games, the price variation, many kinds of materials with different values can be used on trades, but also to be components on the building of places or specific units.

Computer Science

I’m referring to the ability to understand the technology which is used in your games. The innovation character is pretty much disputed nowadays, and knowing your technology’s advantages and disadvantages shall give you better control over it, expanding the possibilities of creating something never seen before.


The best example I can give in this point is mythology, especially Greek and Nordic. Your game has nothing to do with History? It’s a fantasy new world? Believe it, plunging into History will give you an invigorating new inspiration to develop your alternative reality.


To produce a good game, well-shaped in every area, a team is needed, and a lot of knowledge on management is prior to organize a group of people for a common objective. No, you are not responsible for managing all the team, or shouldn’t be, but good designers know a little about management. When there’s a terrible manager, they can work on their own keeping a low profile and reach the expected result from everyone by the end of the project.


There’s no running from it, games are full of math. There’s probability, risk analysis, rewards, point system, force management. Not mentioning complex math that stays behind all game programming. Skillful designers can dive into math when it’s needed to get the rules and mechanics in order to improve the game.

Sound Design

Yes, games need sound. Music get people involved, captivate, link directly to their essence. Beyond music there is a whole world inside sound design: effects, beats, fights. Scenarios need sound so the player will be able to believe he’s inside them. Images need to show the place while sounds convince about the positioning on it. Hint: “Listening is believing”.


Your goal is to grant people the experience they desire. You’ll scare them, reward them, fool them, delude them, protect them and whatever else is needed and to do so you need to understand the inner workings of human mind in different ages, classes, creeds, etc. If you don’t, you’ll be designing in the dark.

Public Behaviors

You oftenly will have to presente or deny ideas in public. There’s much to be added in play and much more that can’t. The whole team will be interested in adding something personal in the game, and you should receive this openly, but should also deny and counter argue when the idea is not realistic. You should be natural, clear, assured and interested while showing your points, or people will think you don’t know what you’re doing. Hint: Watch presidents on your country speaking to the public or discussing on debates.

And yes, there’s much more than that, scary, isn’t it? But relax, nobody can master all these skills, no one could. What is being discussed here are the main skills that improve your work level. Better the knowledge about them, better will be your power a game designer.
Further than these skills, remember the most important feature as a game designer – “You need to listen” this, listen, you need to stop and listen to your client, your friends, your family, and mainly your team. They’re inside the world you are creating, they’re vital parts of it. The ideas that will emerge will be many times better than your own, so beat your ego, and listen, and listen a LOT.


The Art of Game Design - Jesse Schell
Images - Scirra, weheartit, google images

By Thiago Attianesi (
Traslated by Felipe Lins

Post comment Comments
mikah Mar 20 2012, 4:43am says:

Very nice article, thanks!

+5 votes     reply to comment
thiago.attianesi Author
thiago.attianesi Mar 20 2012, 10:33am replied:

I loved you picture.

+5 votes   reply to comment
SPY-maps Mar 20 2012, 5:26am says:

great new article again!!!
a lot to think about,


+5 votes     reply to comment
thiago.attianesi Author
thiago.attianesi Mar 20 2012, 10:33am replied:

Thank you =)

+4 votes   reply to comment
ZeusLT Mar 20 2012, 10:02am says:

Awesome info again!

+5 votes     reply to comment
Arcones Mar 20 2012, 12:06pm says:

Fantastic job! It was a helpful read :)

+3 votes     reply to comment
Salsa_Shark Mar 20 2012, 6:32pm says:

I have read this article twice already, still very good :D

+4 votes     reply to comment
thiago.attianesi Author
thiago.attianesi Mar 21 2012, 12:05am replied:

haha :D thanks

+3 votes   reply to comment
Jdawgg25 Mar 20 2012, 10:54pm says:

Great article!! I found it to be very helpful. :-)

+3 votes     reply to comment
thiago.attianesi Author
thiago.attianesi Mar 21 2012, 12:05am replied:

I am happy in read this.

+3 votes   reply to comment
Domo_Skully_ Mar 23 2012, 5:30am says:

True article, I completely agree with all of it!

+2 votes     reply to comment
Shadow_Micha Apr 1 2012, 7:31am says:

This article gives more inspiration to us, thanx :D

+2 votes     reply to comment
Atheoi Jul 14 2012, 8:42am says:

Nice Article, has given me a lot to think about =]

+1 vote     reply to comment
scanevaro Jan 1 2013, 3:41pm says:

I wish theres a Print version of it ;)
thanks a lot!

+1 vote     reply to comment
CjDev Jun 24 2013, 2:58pm says:

great job man!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Guest Nov 14 2013, 1:46pm says:

This comment is currently awaiting admin approval, join now to view.

javierandooo Mar 8 2014, 12:37pm says:

Es un gran articulo que servirá para encaminarme y aprender.

+1 vote     reply to comment
ZhavKun Oct 26 2014, 9:20am says:

Thank you! This has helped me alot!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Post a Comment
click to sign in

You are not logged in, your comment will be anonymous unless you join the community today (totally free - or sign in with your social account on the right) which we encourage all contributors to do.

2000 characters limit; HTML formatting and smileys are not supported - text only

Report Abuse
Report article
Related Games
iHitch - Android and Iphone
iHitch - Android and Iphone Single Player Arcade
The Amazing Goblin's Workshop
The Amazing Goblin's Workshop Single Player Cinematic
Related Engines
Custom Built
Custom Built Commercial Released Sep 1, 2007
Related Groups
2D Games
2D Games Fans & Clans group with 279 members
6TH Generation Gamers
6TH Generation Gamers Hardware & Tech group with 491 members
Android Fans
Android Fans Hardware & Tech group with 411 members
Anime Fans of modDB
Anime Fans of modDB Fans & Clans group with 2,168 members
Anscamobile Developer with 2 members
Brazil / Brasil
Brazil / Brasil Geographic group with 219 members
design3 Educational group with 44 members
Desura Publishing
Desura Publishing Official group with 187 members
Fan Studios
Fan Studios Developer & Publisher with 6 members
Fantasy fans
Fantasy fans Arts & Literature group with 42 members
Indie Devs
Indie Devs Hobbies & Interests group with 1,176 members
Indie Gamers
Indie Gamers Hobbies & Interests group with 674 members Other group with 111 members
Indievania Web & Community group with 25 members
IndieVault Hobbies & Interests group with 76 members
Level Design Group
Level Design Group Hobbies & Interests group with 599 members
Level Of Detail
Level Of Detail Entertainment & Press group with 9 members
Open Source Game Development
Open Source Game Development Other group with 36 members
PC Gamers
PC Gamers Hardware & Tech group with 651 members
Professional Gamers.
Professional Gamers. Other group with 19 members
Science fiction fans
Science fiction fans Arts & Literature group with 647 members
Tru Music Designing
Tru Music Designing Educational group with 15 members
Turn-based strategy fans
Turn-based strategy fans Fans & Clans group with 286 members
Unity devs
Unity devs Hobbies & Interests group with 1,300 members
We Want Real Rating On Desura
We Want Real Rating On Desura Entertainment & Press group with 22 members