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The dream of many video game players is to someday design video games of their own. A video game designer is responsible for creating the rules of the game, or how the game will be played. Unlike the video game artists, who create the visual world of the game, designers create the game itself.
The first step for those who wish to become a video game designer is to play a lot of video games, studying which games are popular and why. Pay attention to the details of the games, what works, what doesn't, and what is popular at any point and time. Learn about the different types of video games, such as role playing, first-person shooters and educational games. This takes more than just playing for fun; it requires taking the time to really analyze the video games.
The second step to becoming a video game designer is to get a certificate or degree in video game design, visual art and media design, or similar. Many technical colleges offer relevant programs for those interested in becoming game designers. Although they are normally more expensive than traditional colleges, they typically offer a lot of hands-on experience and a great job placement program for after the student has completed the program.
There are several types of courses a student can expect to take when studying to become a video game designer. Programming, art and designing courses are some of the most important, but students will also learn how to work in a development team, how to plan out and manage the creation of a video game, and how to use physics and other aspects of the real world to make game play more believable. By the time that the student graduates from the program, he or she will be equipped with the skills needed to succeed in the game design field, along with a portfolio of his or her best work to show prospective employers.
The first jobs that a designer is likely to get in the video game field usually are internships and other entry-level positions. It may be years before someone is actually working on the latest video games. Starting positions often include testing the games before they are released to the public and observing and interacting with more advanced development teams. The first several months to a year of employment are mostly spent learning about how the company operates and working on smaller projects. As the employee proves his abilities, he will be assigned more responsibilities.
It can take years to build a successful career as a video game designer. The career requires a lot of commitment and hard work. The last few months and weeks before a game is released, called "crunch time," will require long, stressful days of work, sometimes 80 hours of work or more during those weeks. Those who have the ability to produce quality work, hold up under the stress and stay committed have a real chance at becoming a successful video game designer.
It doesn't hurt to do some interning, either. It is surprising how many opportunities there are in communities around the nation to work for an honest-go-goodness video game company. For the longest time (and it may still be there), Activision had a pretty large location in my town. We're not talking about a major city -- we're in the southwest where you wouldn't expect to find a company like Activision actively working on games.
Look around. You might be surprised at what you can find close to home.
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