FuturLab’s Kirsty Rigden discusses the key skills needed for her role in game design

Get That Job Daily: How to be a lead game designer

Every working day this month, as part of our New Year, New Job 2014 special, Develop brings you a game industry professional to explain what their job involves and key advice to help you follow in their footsteps.

Lead game designer

Kirsty Rigden, lead game designer at FuturLab, offers her advice on how you can step up to one of the industry’s most reverend careers.

How would someone become a game designer?
I would recommend getting a job as a QA tester within a development studio. You’ll get to experience how a game is made. Work hard and conscientiously in QA, but let people know that you’d like to be a designer. You may find you are given the more design-related QA tasks. Meanwhile, get involved in local game jams and online modding to get some hands-on experience making games. Send the design lead [at your place of work] a well thought-out written concept and ask for feedback as you are keen to learn. Hopefully when a position comes up for a designer they will think of you.

This worked for me and many other game designers I know.

What qualifications and/or experience do you need?
Different studios have different requirements. Some require a degree while others are happy with decent GCSE results and a good portfolio. You will need some industry experience, which is why I recommend a job in QA first as the barrier to entry is lower than that of a game designer.

What do you look for when recruiting a new game designer?
I prefer someone with a good degree as it shows that they are smart and able to remain focused. Traditional subjects such as English, Computer Science, Psychology or similar are much preferred over Game Development degrees.

A good game designer needs to be able to demonstrate excellent communication skills and the ability to problem solve. Most importantly, it needs to be clear that they have the ability to empathise with the player.

What opportunities are there for career progression?
You can become a lead designer, responsible for all the other designers. From there you could become the creative director, responsible for the creative vision of the game. Alternatively, you could change direction and become a producer or game director, responsible for the day-to-day running of the game and team. You could even start your own studio.

Why choose to follow a career in your field?
A career in game design is interesting and varied. There are a lot of stages to designing a game, from fleshing out the initial idea, to actually building the levels, to fixing or changing aspects of the design during implementation. Being part of a team where you all work together towards a final product is a lot of fun.

If you’d like to get involved with Get That Job Daily, contact aaron.lee@intentmedia.co.uk. You can take a look at all the available design vacancies over at our Develop Jobs section.

This feature is part of New Year, New Job 2014, Develop’s month-long guide to games recruitment. You can read more at www.develop-online.net/jobs2014.

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