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How to Learn Game Design: Create a Portfolio in the Best Game Development Courses

Do you like playing video games so much that you’ve considered pursuing a career in game design? If so, you’ve come to the right place to learn game development.

But first, remember that playing a game and making a game are two very different things. Game development requires a lot of skills and dedication apart from just a strong interest in the gaming universe.

Just because you love to complete quests, defeat bosses, and save the queen doesn’t mean that you will like creating those levels, bosses, prizes, and storylines. Read on to decide whether this career is for you.

What Is Video Game Design? 

Video game design is the process of creating and designing the rules of a video game before production begins. It includes designing the game-play, environment of the game, and storyline. You also create new game concepts, mechanics, characters, visuals, and music.

Skills Required for Game Design

Game designers are required to have strong problem-solving and programming skills, along with ample knowledge of computer graphics or rendering engines, and user interface design.

Apart from these, a game developer should also have those that are listed below. 

Programming knowledge

Game designers are required to have a principle understanding of algorithms, data structures, and fundamental coding languages. These are all essential when working with application program interfaces (APIs), programming a game’s terrain, and programming the necessary artificial intelligence (AI) within a game.

It is suggested that beginners should have a working knowledge of the programming language Java along with LibGDX framework, and C++.

Understanding of Multimedia Development Software

Knowledge of software such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Creative Suite, and Unity will help users create high-quality 2D and 3D visuals to draw in users and enhance their experience.

Storytelling Ability

This is an essential skill in game design. It is used in character development, plotting game lines, and keeping the player interested. Online portals like GameLearn and Coursera provide courses and training in good storytelling.

What Is a Video Game Developer?

Game developers work as part of a team to plan and produce video games for computers, mobile devices, or game consoles like Xbox and PlayStation. They create game mechanics and write code to make sure all features of a game are functional.

In this career, preference is given to job applicants who have a background in software development or mathematics. The ability to cooperate with others to achieve objectives is also essential. 

Although many developers work full-time in a game studio or tech firm, there are opportunities for game developers who prefer to work remotely or to self-publish their games online. 

Duties of a Game Designer 

Game designers can work at a wide array of organizations. Specific roles and responsibilities can vary, but there are several key tasks associated with the work, which we’ll review below.

Plan and Maintain Game Projects 

After receiving game requirements and feature requests, game designers will create a plot, characters, setting, events, scores, and how the game will progress. They will break down the project into smaller pieces. Then, the team will create plans and project deadlines for each section of the project, and start creating prototypes.

After initial development, game designers will continue to process new feature requests and make changes. This can include creating add-ons and game packs, releasing updates with new levels and characters, and introducing online multiplayer capabilities.

Design Games

Coordinating with graphic designers, game developers will use graphic design programs to create 2D and 3D models of game assets, including environments and characters. 

Script Writing 

Designing storyboards and writing scripts is an important part of a game designer’s role. It involves details like settings, rules and regulations, foreplay, character building, and different gameplay methods. Good scriptwriting makes the player more engaged and ensures a better user experience.

Market Research

Game designers conduct market research to better understand their audience’s needs. It gives them an idea of what is trending, and how to create a game that will stand out from the rest.

Game Design Job Opportunities

The gaming industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world. There are many job opportunities for game designers, especially in countries like the US, England, Canada, and Japan.

Since the production of a single game can require a team of 50 to 100 members, the job opportunities are on the rise, but so is the competition. The availability of remote work opportunities means this industry is also a good option for those who like to travel. 

Game Design Salary 

Game developer salaries differ depending on elements like skills, expertise, experience, company, and game type.

According to PayScale, a video game designer earns $65,302 per year on average. Although a beginner makes around $52,000 per year, a game designer with 10 to 19 years of experience can earn an average of $91,000 per year.

Learning Game Design

A person holding black game controller
Are you searching for more game design certifications? We have compiled a detailed list to help you get started.

Video game design is a competitive business and to secure a position as a junior game designer, you will need to stand out. One way to do this is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in video game design or a related field. 

Several colleges and universities offer game design degrees. However, dedicating four years to intensive study may not be feasible for everyone, particularly those who are already working and are looking to make a career change.

Luckily, this industry does not require a formal degree. Aspiring designers can also learn all the relevant skills through online courses. Creativity, software skills, and experience in hands-on projects are all prerequisites to getting a job in this field.

Now that you have learned about the key responsibilities of game developers, let’s explore how you can pursue a career in this sector.

How Long Does It Take to Learn Game Development? 

If you are new to programming, it might take you several months to first get a hold of the basic programming concepts. Once you are comfortable with writing code, you can move on to the next step: Learning your gaming engine of choice. 

It will take another two to three months to get a hold of the gaming engine. Developing your first small game can take somewhere between six months to a year if you start from zero.

How to Become a Game Developer: Step-by-Step 

Before starting any journey, it is important to plan the steps you’ll need to take. Below, we have broken down your journey to learning game design into five steps.

  • Learn programming languages. Programming languages like C#, C++, and Python, and scripting languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are essential to game design, as are high-level math skills.

  • Enroll in a course. Some institutes teach game development from scratch as a full-time course. Otherwise, you may choose to enroll in an online course, depending on your preferences.

  • Select a subfield. It takes more than one person to develop a big game like Witcher, GTA, or Resident Evil, as there are lots of components within game design. So, at this point, it is necessary to select your specific subfield.

  • Experiment and gain experience. Gaming engines such as Unity, CryEngine, and Unreal give you a platform to develop your game and build a portfolio of gaming projects that show your skills.

  • Read resources and blogs. There are free resources available on YouTube that will help you get comfortable with these gaming engines. The blogs will provide insight into current gaming trends.

Best Game Design Courses 

Certifications are proof of your expertise in a given field. There are many certification courses that you can take in game design. Below are three of the best.

Graduate Certificate in Game Design

  • Provider: American University
  • Duration: 1 year (12 credit hours)
  • Fee: $1,631 per credit hour

This certification program is a combination of game design and game development that aims to increase students’ capabilities from the perspective of both customers and game executives. The program includes topics like games and society, game research methods, game development, and games and rhetoric.

Professional Certificate in Computer Science for Game Development

  • Provider: Edx 
  • Duration: 2 to 4 months
  • Fee: $182.32

Offered by Harvard University, this professional-level certification introduces you to the skills required to design and develop a game. It will provide you with a thorough comprehension of the principles of 2D and 3D animations and collision detection. 

Certified User: VR Developer

  • Provider: Unity
  • Fee: $60

This entry-level certification will teach you to design, develop, and deploy a game for VR. The goal is to validate your foundational skills and your ability to design engaging 3D experiences.

Online Game Development Resources

The more you read the more you will learn. Online resources are a good way to boost your knowledge of any topic. To help you, we have compiled a brief list of online game development resources.

  • GameDesigning.Org. With detailed tutorials and guides on the tools used in game design and possible development themes and strategies, this website is a vital resource.

  • Unreal Engine. This learning platform provides hands-on courses and training along with free video tutorials on high-quality game designing using 3D visualizations.

  • University libraries. This resource provides materials for beginner game designers. It includes animation forums, game artist forums, and podcasts.

Should You Learn Game Development?

a red, pixelated game character on yellow wall
The key to designing a successful game is your creativity, although it’s also important to have basic skills.

A game designer is much like a film director. They are the architect of the game and manage the creative and artistic factors of the game to fulfill a vision. Designing a video game involves aesthetic and technological proficiency and at times even requires writing skills.

If you enjoy playing games and think you have the creativity, skills, and most importantly the zeal to design video games, then joining this profession may be the right choice.

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