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  • Writer's pictureHeather Zhu

A Beginner's Guide to Game Design

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

Dive into the basics of game design with our guide. Learn the core components, start with practical steps, and begin your game creation journey.

game design

The video game industry is a booming global enterprise, expected to reach over $200 billion in revenue by 2023. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for special effects artists and animators, which includes game designer jobs, is expected to grow by 5% from 2021 to 2031. This growth is faster than the average for all occupations and signifies a promising future for aspiring game programmers. If you have ever been captivated by strategy games, their immersive worlds, thrilling narratives, and innovative mechanics, you might find yourself interested in learning the ins and outs of game design. This beginner's guide aims to simplify the process and demystify the industry, providing you with the knowledge you need to begin your game creation journey.


What do you mean by game design?

Game designing, at its core, involves the creation of the content and rules of a game. This can refer to traditional board games, card games, and sports, but it most commonly references video games design in these modern times. The scope of this field is extensive and multi-disciplinary, involving the integration of storytelling, art, sound, programming, and even psychology. Game designers are dubbed the architects of the game industry. They formulate the concepts, characters, settings, storylines, and rules that bring the game to life. Their role often encompasses creating engaging gameplay mechanics and progression systems, designing unique and intriguing game levels, and ensuring that all the game's elements mesh together to create a cohesive and enjoyable player experience.

To understand it more clearly, we can divide it into two main components:


1. Mechanical Design

This includes the rules and systems that govern how the game is played. It involves creating the controls, gameplay mechanics, character abilities, and AI behaviors.

2. Narrative Design

This refers to the story that the game is telling. This includes the creation of the game world, the characters, their dialogue, and the main narrative thread that guides players through the game. Ultimately, designing games is about creating an interactive experience that players find compelling and enjoyable. It's about balancing challenge and reward, and ensuring that the player always has interesting choices to make.

How do I start the game design?

If you've ever asked yourself, "How do I start designing a game?", know that the path isn't as intimidating as it might seem. Below, we'll cover a few critical steps:

1. Start with the Basics

Before you dive into creating your first game, it's crucial to understand the basics of game designing. Many resources are available, including books, online courses, and tutorials. Some recommended starting points are "The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses" by Jesse Schell, and online platforms such as Coursera and Udemy, which offer comprehensive courses on creating a game.


2. Play Games Critically

Playing various games is an essential part of learning how to design a game. But more than just playing, you need to start thinking critically about the games you play. What worked well? What didn't? How would you improve the game? This analysis helps you to understand the mechanics and storytelling methods that successful games use.

3. Learn a Programming Language

Although you don't have to be a programming expert to design games, understanding the basics can significantly help. Languages such as Python, C++, and C# are commonly used, with C# being particularly popular because of its integration with Unity, a widely used game engine.


4. Use Game Development Software

Speaking of Unity, familiarizing yourself with game development software is a crucial step when you start designing games. Tools like Unity and Unreal Engine offer robust platforms to create games, even for beginners.

5. Start Small

When starting out, it's easy to want to create a massive, complex game. However, starting small lets you focus on learning and understanding each element of game development. Consider creating a simple game like Pong or Tetris, which can help you understand basic mechanics and level design.

6. Join the Community

There are many communities, both online and offline, of game developers who are willing to share their experiences and knowledge. Platforms like Reddit, Discord, and even local meetups can provide valuable resources and feedback.

Summary

Learning how to design a game is a broad and diverse process, combining elements of storytelling, art, sound, and programming to create engaging and immersive interactive experiences. It's a process that requires creativity, technical skills, and a deep understanding of what players find fun and compelling. Starting your journey in game design will involve understanding the basics, playing games critically, learning programming languages, using game development software, starting with simple projects, and joining the game developer community. While the process might initially seem challenging, remember that every game programmer started where you are now. Try playing a number of video games first, especially strategy games to fully understand what makes a game good or bad. Eventually, with patience, persistence, and a passion for games, you can start designing!

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1 Comment


xojeso7149
Aug 29, 2023

Great article, I like the way you were able to present the information, very clear and precise, without any nonsense, as it often happens nowadays. In general, good game designs create cause marketing benefits that later bring developers huge amounts of money, it's very cool when the design team actively cooperates with the marketing team, it will bring very good dividends to the game author in any case. Thank you for such high-quality content, you have made me more knowledgeable in this topic.

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