How to Get a Job As a Game Designer

I got a question from one of you readers asking how to get a job as a game designer:

I am just a compliance tester, but i want to design and ONLY design. I dont want to code, or do any art just design. What can i do to get into this field?


Since I do much different production tasks besides design I’m probably not the best person to answer to this question, but I have some ideas on this.

A week ago I wrote an article titled 7 Plans for Getting Further With Your Game Idea. While most of these ideas are applicable only if you do also programming (or have budget to hire somebody), I think the last tip about making pen & paper RPGs might be quite interesting for some people. If all they want to do is design – then why not choose pen & paper (or board game) industry where it’s easier for designers to get their work done?

I googled for “game design” and “game designer” and found an article titled: Design Job Info. While that article is from year 2002 I still think there’s lessons to learn also today. I’m sure you can find many more simply by using search engines.

The first Round Table session about breaking in the industry was targeted for producer, but the tips are applicable for designers as well. I recommend taking a look at that blog post also.

Last but not least I would start gathering names of video game designers and would approach them. I would ask how these guys got their jobs and would there be any tips they could share. If you can provide them something in exchange, the better chances you have to get in touch with them.

Besides directly contacting designers you could google for more designer articles and read books by designers. You could find out how these people got in the industry and follow their footsteps. Check out job offers from company websites and send your resumes to companies, just to let them know what you’ve done.

You could consider launching a video game design website and start writing your design ideas and tips there. You might simply start designing games for free, and put these designs online. Make your goal to get a job as a designer, and start going towards it. Sooner or later you’ll get it. It will take some time depending on your skills, your determination and your willingness to work on getting that job – but if you are willing to pursue that goal, I’m sure you can achieve it.

In summary:

  • Make your goal to become a video game designer
  • Read everything you can about design and designers
  • Find out how some professional designers got their jobs and model their actions
  • Check out job offerings and send your resume to these companies
  • Consider launching your own video game design website and get publicity

And the most important reminder: Work on your goal every day. Do something to go towards your goal. Take baby steps and be patient.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. It’s a tough market getting a Game Design job, believe me I’ve tried a long time, I’ve even got myself an education recently (well, we’ll have to see if that will make it easier). I have one more book to recommend and one homepage too. the book is written by Ernest Adams “How to get a job making video games” I believe it’s called…hmmm…the homepage I can recommend is http://www.gamecareerguide.com/ containing some useful information. Sign up for closed betas, alphas, study and create in Macromedia, and have some luck. I know I need some. Still, you’re welcome to get some inspiration, links, ideas, information in my job-hunting quest at the bombtruck-blog (http://bombtruck.currant.se)

    ps. One thing to think about before you continue on applying for Game Design Jobs is to ask yourself the question: What are my strengths as a Game designer? HCI? Game Mechanics? Story (the you’re not a game designer by definition)? etc.

  2. I have to say, there is no such job as a game designer in companies these days. An “ideas” person? I hear it all the time – “I want to work in games, I have lots of ideas!”

    There are two aspects to consider – everyone who works in games already has an idea. Or ten ideas. Seriously, if a company is looking for an idea, they don’t hire someone off the street, they simply look within at the mass of talented trusted people who have already been pitching ideas and helping shape existing games.

    Now, within a company there will be people termed “designers”, but this isn’t about coming up with ideas – this usually about collating hundreds of little ideas and structuring them.

  3. Well its even better if you show these ideas for people who would help you.

    Get in touch with a coder! with an artist! find someone for sound! transform your design into a real game! it will make the process of getting hired by a company even more easier ^^

  4. I can’t tell you how to get a job as a game designer, but I can list some books that I’ve read, that I enjoyed, that will help someone improve their design skills.

    Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design
    Chris Crawford on Game Design
    Swords and Circuitry
    A theory of Fun for game design

    I’d recommend all those books.

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