08 November 2016
The art of game design and its importance
Creating a game is a truly rewarding creative process that requires skills in game design, graphic design, and programming. Most of the time these talents don’t exist all together in one person — if you’re a developer/coder, there’s a good chance that you’ll find yourself playing the role of “game designer” or looking for a talented game design team member.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what game design is, why it’s important, where you can learn it, and how you can apply your skills and stay on top of new game design trends.
What is game design?
In his book, The Art of Game Design, Jesse Schell says “Game design is the act of deciding what a game should be.” It sounds simple enough, but when we dig deep into the outcomes of those design decisions, we find that the choices can positively or negatively impact the user’s experience, level of engagement, and overall enjoyment in significant ways.
If we look at the history of video games themselves, we see how the importance of game design has grown and continues to grow as games become more involved.
In the early days, creating games was all about writing the least amount of code so that a game would fit into limited memory. That meant graphics and interactions were generally very simple. However, as hardware advanced, so did the game designer’s ability to storytell. In turn, graphics became more detailed and interactions became more complex.
Eventually, creating a game became far more than just writing code: it also focused on defining user interactions, ensuring user engagement, and increasing overall enjoyment.
Why is game design important?
Today, game design has become a separate, dedicated field of study with some people choosing to focus solely on design over writing code. The concepts of experience, engagement, and enjoyment are fundamentally important to both players and developers. Players want a fun experience that serves as a temporary distraction, transports them to a different world, or just helps them kill time in the grocery checkout line. To the game creator, the players’ enjoyment is tied directly to the success of the game.
How do you learn it?
Interest in game development has exploded over the last 10 years, especially with the introduction of app stores from Apple, Google, Amazon, and Steam. While there is plenty of competition, there is also no shortage of information.
Naturally, there are many printed and digital books that cover game design. Unfortunately, books can become outdated as technology changes and new game design techniques are explored. That’s why authors like Dr. Brian Burton provide free updates to everyone who purchases his self-published digital books on mobile app development.
For those who prefer watching to reading, new game-related videos can be found on YouTube and elsewhere. These are a great way to discover the latest gameplay trends or learn about a game development tool, but pulling together information from a collection of different sources doesn’t always give you the result you want.
For those who are dedicated and prefer to study a topic from beginning to end, attending a game design school might be the most worthwhile educational experience.
And yet for others, perhaps “learning by doing” works best. In that case, on-the-job training can give you the environment you need to thrive as a game designer.
Where can you use what you’ve learned?
No matter how you decide to learn game design, the most important thing is applying that knowledge. Creating your own games is a great way to grow your skills as a game designer and it also helps you gain a better understanding of what it means to write game code. Understanding game design from the inside out will make you a well-rounded designer who will be able to work well with others.
Also, creating your own games provides you with portfolio items that you can share with hiring managers at game studios. Whether you are trying to join a major studio with teams of people or you just want to connect with another developer on a grassroots project, having some projects to showcase is a big plus.
Staying connected to the game design industry
For more information on game design, visit GameDesigning.org and download Corona to build your first game quickly. You will soon learn what it means to come up with an idea, design user interactions, write code, and produce a game that you created. When you download Corona, you will also receive our newsletter with lots of great information about creating amazing games. So, get those creative juices flowing and dive right in!