Game Designer FAQ

October 31, 2003

Yes, some people are blessed enough to design games for a living. In this section you’ll find the answers to the most common questions we are asked about the role of the game designer, as well as a list of suggested reading materials.

Will you look at my game design?

Sorry, but we don’t accept game design submissions, no matter how cool you think they are (see the sidebar at right). Besides the legal reasons, we’ve got a bunch of really creative people here with more game ideas than we have time to make.

What makes a good design?

There are books out there related to game design, but in a nutshell, you’ve got to make sure that the game you’re designing has the following elements:

Originality: Either a new concept or a unique twist on an existing idea.

Direction: To ensure everyone involved on the project understands what the final product is supposed to look, sound and play like. This is where details are needed!

Achievable Goals: Saying you’re going to “create a revolutionary 3D engine” is not an achievable goal unless you give the programmer some direction as to what the engine will need to do. Even then, it may be impossible. Again, detail it out for your team and let the experts in each area see if what you want is possible. Maybe they’ll come up with an even BETTER way to execute the final idea.

Fun: This is the magic element in all designs. You’ve got to step back from your design and say, if everything goes as planned, would I like to play this game? Would anyone else?

Check out the speech I gave at GDC in 1999, The Hooks of the Game, where I talk about all the things that will make a game design idea stand out from the crowd.

Are there any educational resources for game designers?

Digital Game Developer has several interesting resources.

Beyond Structure, a workshop for script writing and character development.

The Game Developer’s Conference is the best annual event for everyone in the game industry.

Raph Koster’s Web site has a number of interesting essays and links to relevant resources.

DigiPen Institute of Technology and FullSail are among the first of their type of game design educational resources.