I thought I would share with my readers some information I have collected regarding different types of jobs in video game design
Like many other game industry jobs, the game designer’s role is increasingly specialized. On a basic level, game designers are supposed to make the games fun. According to one long-time industry insider, designers “use all the same ingredients available to everyone else, and use them in a unique and creative fashion to make something new and fun.” A game designer writes and diagrams a game in a game design document, which includes information about the game’s characters, worlds, and story, among other details. A lead designer is responsible for the overall design vision for the video game and must drive the game design through every phase – concept, presentation, implementation, tuning and release. The lead video game designer must also be able to work with other members of the team to communicate the game vision within the development, production and marketing staff. The lead designer also oversees and assesses work created by other game designers on the project. Ultimately, the lead video game designer ensures the success, both critically and commercially, of the product. The position requires strong technological ability and artistic vision.
Senior Level Designer
A senior level designer is responsible for outlining level objectives and flow within a video game and is then required to develop design documentation for that level. Depending on a particular company’s requirements, a senior level designer would need to be able to place and tune game play elements, artificial intelligence and other game elements. The designer must also be able to understand and adapt various scripting languages (Java, Python, LUA) and tools, and have experience using 3D modeling packages, such as Maya or 3D Studio.
A level designer who doesn’t yet have the experience to be designated a senior level designer will typically be provided the design documentation, including mechanics, guidelines and mission outlines, from the senior or lead designer. Because the level designer builds the interactive elements in a video game such as buildings and terrain for a portion of the game, experience using 3D modeling packages is required.
A lead animator works closely with the lead artist, lead programmer and senior artists to create all aspects of characters used in a game, all the while following the defined visual direction of the product. Some of a lead animator’s key activities include bringing characters and environments to life through movement, using 2D and 3D art packages (3D Studio Max, Maya, Softimage, Alias, Filmbox, Photoshop, and Character Studio). This game design job requires a solid understanding of animation theory, and some video game studios prefer candidates who are adept at animating in both a cartoon and real-world style. An animator also should have the ability to create 3D models and 2D texture maps from 2D concept art.
Computer Game Programming
There are many different job descriptions under the heading of computer game programming. Some include:
Working with the sound designer, audio programmers create all the audio in a game. An audio programmer is required to design and write code that will trigger sound effects and other interactive audio, including music and speech. Audio programmers also need to understand sound synthesis so that they can design special effects. Experience programming in C++ is often required, along with a degree in computer science or engineering. However, in lieu of the college degree, some studios do accept equivalent work experience. They also seek candidates with knowledge of sound tools/APIs such as XACT or DirectSound.
This is an area that has grown increasingly specialized, and programmers may work in graphics/special effects, engine/tools, and artificial intelligence, among other areas.
This person provides technical expertise to develop games, or technology that supports games, and must be able to create quality computer code. In addition to the ability to communicate with the other team members producing the video game, graphics programmers should have experience with C/C++, DirectX, OpenGL, Windows programming, and 3D packages, among others. Depending on a particular company’s requirements, a programmer may be expected to have experience with more specialized skills, such as lighting and shading techniques or animation programming,
This position requires a degree in computer science or engineering, and proficiency with the computer languages C or C++. The network programmer writes code that allows players to compete against each other or play together connected via a computer network or the Internet. According to one source, this type of programming is one of the most challenging in the creation of video games.
Computer Game Producers and Testers
Video Game Producers
A producer’s main task is to ensure that the game is done on time and on budget. That means the producer has to be aware of everyone’s task, and be able to track them. According to one recruiting website, the producer has to “understand the vision of the game, and assist in making the vision a reality.”
Quality Assurance (QA or Video Game Testing)
A fair number of game developers get their foot in the door by starting in QA for a company. It can be a tedious job, says an industry insider, but one that gives thorough knowledge of a particular game, and of both good and poor game design. Game testers become very proficient at the game they’re working on, and also get to know the designers at a particular studio. Often, according to the insider, those working as video game testers will then move on to another company. There are some studios, however, that actively promote their QA employees into game design positions.