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Computer Games Designer

Job Zone

Education
Most of these occupations require qualifications at NFQ Levels 7 or 8 (Ordinary / Honours Degrees) but some do not.

Related Experience
A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an engineer must complete four years of college and work for several years in engineering to be considered qualified.

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€30k >  
Computer Games Designer
Salary Range
(thousands per year)*
€30 -  
Related Information:
Data Source(s):
FAS

Last Updated: March, 2011

* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
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At a Glance... header image

Comes up with ideas for new video games, and makes design choices during their development to improve the player's overall experience.


The Work header image

Games are developed for a number of different 'platforms' (types of computer). The most important are PCs (personal computers) and consoles (dedicated games machines). A growing number of games are now also played online via the Internet and on mobile devices.
 
Computer games designers may devise the basic outlines for these games. The original inspiration may be a sport, a celebrity, a book, film or short story, or it may come entirely from the designer's own imagination. Games can be oriented to different audiences.  
 
Typically, they begin with an outline that sets out the story of the game. However, because computer games are interactive (the player's actions play a crucial part in determining how the story unfolds), they develop from this complex specifications, showing all the options a player might take and the consequences, leading to one or more different conclusions. To do this, they use tools such as flowcharts, storyboards and index cards. Many of these tools are available in the form of computer programs.  
 
In association with the art director, computer game designers are also responsible for the overall look of a game. To this end, they may produce sketches and storyboards, and design the 'interface', which is what a player sees while actually playing the game. The interface is a crucial part of any game design, because it determines how it feels to play the game and the kind of choices that a player has available at any time. Games designers also specify the sound and the graphics that will be used in the game.  
 
Games designers also increasingly use 'level editors', which provide a user-friendly interface between 'old-fashioned' coding and a standard graphic design program. Level editors are used for building up a game's 2D or 3D world. Level editors often come packaged with the game at retail, 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.  
 
Computer game designers work in a tightly-knit team, which also includes graphic artists, writers, musicians and programmers. The team is led by a product manager. Different designers have different skills and strengths, some leaning more towards the writing, others more towards visual aspects of the design.  
 
A part of this job may involve convincing managers that the game is worth developing. The designer may compile a list of the game's features, explaining how these features will help to sell the game. They may have to present their argument verbally or in writing, perhaps with the aid of trial screen shots.

 


Tasks & Activitiesheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported tasks and activities for this occupation

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Balance and adjust gameplay experiences to ensure the critical and commercial success of the product.

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Provide feedback to designers and other colleagues regarding game design features.

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Create core game features including storylines, role-play mechanics, and character biographies for a new video game or game franchise.

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Devise missions, challenges, or puzzles to be encountered in game play.

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Guide design discussions between development teams.

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Develop and maintain design level documentation, including mechanics, guidelines, and mission outlines.

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Create and manage documentation, production schedules, prototyping goals, and communication plans in collaboration with production staff.

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Present new game design concepts to management and technical colleagues, including artists, animators, and programmers.

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Conduct regular design reviews throughout the game development process.

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Solicit, obtain, and integrate feedback from design and technical staff into original game design.

Work Activities header image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported Work Activities in this occupation.

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Thinking Creatively:  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.

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Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work:  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.

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Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates:  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

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Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge:  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

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Making Decisions and Solving Problems:  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

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Interacting With Computers:  Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.

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Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships:  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

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Documenting/Recording Information:  Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

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Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events:  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

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Processing Information:  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.


Knowledge header image

The following is a list of the five most commonly reported Knowledge areas for this occupation.

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Computers and Electronics:  Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

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Design:  Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.

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English Language:  Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

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Communications and Media:  Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.

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Psychology:  Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.


Skillsheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported skills used in this occupation.

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Programming:   Writing computer programs for various purposes.

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Reading Comprehension:   Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

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Active Listening:   Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

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Critical Thinking:   Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

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Active Learning:   Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

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Complex Problem Solving:   Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

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Time Management:   Managing one's own time and the time of others.

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Writing:   Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

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Systems Evaluation:   Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.

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Judgment and Decision Making:   Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Personal Qualitiesheader image

As a computer games designer, you will need an enthusiasm for, and good knowledge of, computers and computer games.  
 
You need a strong visual imagination, and the ability to work with highly complex, multi-stranded specifications and programs. A logical, methodical approach is therefore essential. You will also need to be patient and painstaking, as developing a new game from scratch can be a lengthy and demanding process. 

You will need to be a good team worker. Artistic/design skills are essential, and for some types of computer game, scriptwriting skills are also important. Some programming knowledge/ability is desirable. However, computer games designers do not necessarily have to be expert computer programmers. You also need to be commercially aware for that what you design will be popular in the marketplace.  
 
A constant willingness to learn and develop your knowledge is also important as the industry is constantly changing and improving.


Further Informationheader image

A detailed description of this occupation can be found on a number of online databases. Follow the link(s) below to access this information:

Note: you will be leaving the CareersPortal Site

Go..   Computer Games Developer - from:  N.C.S. [UK]
Go..   Computer Games Modeller - from:  icould [UK] Video
Go..   Computer Games Release - from:  icould [UK] Video
Go..   Creative Design Lead / Lead Game Designer - from:  iCould [UK] Video
Go..   Games Developer - from:  icould [UK] Video
Go..   Halo's Master Chief (Voice) - from:  YouTube Video
Go..   Head of Game Development - from:  icould [UK] Video
Go..   The Gaming Industry (Part 1) - from:  Discover Science & Engineering
Go..   The Gaming Industry (Part 2) - from:  Discover Science & Engineering
Go..   The Gaming Industry (Part 3) - from:  Discover Science & Engineering

Contactsheader image

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Organisation: Smart Futures
  Address: Discover Science & Engineering, Wilton Park House, Wilton Place, Dublin, 2
  Tel: (01) 607 3171
  Email: info@science.ie
  Url www.smartfutures.ie
   

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Organisation: Society for Chartered IT Professionals in Ireland
  Address: 87-89 Pembroke Road, Dublin 4
  Tel: (01) 644 7820
  Email: info@ics.ie
  Url www.ics.ie
   

 

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Career Articles

View Article So you want to work in Video Games?

Career Guidance

This occupation is popular with people who have the following Career Interests...

Creative  Enterprising   

...and for people who like working in the following Career Sectors:

Computers & Software
Entertainment & Performing Arts

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