What is Video Game Design? Learn to Design Video Games?

Unravel the mysteries of video game design: Learn everything you need to become a game designer (professional or freelance).

Welcome to the one-stop shop that covers all of the game design (I’m glad you made it). This page is a hub. Unpack the art here and address most of the information you can find throughout the site.

If this is your first time, it’s best to start here.

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Step things first – What is Video Game Design?

Game design refers to the entire process of creating a game idea and ultimately making it a playable product.

Many people only think of video games, but game design includes all kinds of games (board games, card games, video games, etc.).

There are many elements to the design of a game.
Design video game characters
Also, depending on the size of your design team, you may face one or more of the following challenges:

  • How the game works
  • Game core concept
  • Character Design
  • Story and scenario
  • Level design

And that’s obvious. Video games need to be coded, tested, and debugged (and you can test again, debug again, test again, debug again to get the point).

Ultimately, your goal as a game designer is to create fun games. A game that players can enjoy, revisit frequently, and miss. After all, great video games can be really good for you!

You don’t need a Skyrim caliber game to get your players hooked. Now you can create text-based games in Twine and move people to another world (although you need to hone your skills before you can create a real winner, so keep doing that.

How to Become a Game Designer

Becoming a game designer is as easy as downloading one of the best game engines and generating suspicious content (oh, semantics).

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However, it takes much longer to become a good game designer.

The easiest way is to design a game. The simple path is not the easy path (there is no such thing as an “easy path” to game design unless mom and dad have a serious connection).
But if you’re the easy way, you won’t be here (anyway, the “easy” way is much more rewarding).

As you continue to study game design, you’ll find that this feeling repeats itself over and over again. Want to be a game designer? Next, design the game.

This advice may seem daunting. It may not sound sexy. It may not be the “secret secrets and secrets” you were looking for.

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But that’s the only way to do what you’re trying to do.

And you can start right now. We have lists of great tutorials and guides for beginners, covering more than enough topics for you to get started.

Interested in learning more about game programming languages, or Java, Flash, Unity, or Blender?

We have you covered (and then some!).

Or, if you’re looking for formal education, you can head to a different corner of our site.

Get an education in game design

Get your career off to the best start with CG Spectrum’s digital art courses
Get more out of your education with an industry-approved curriculum, live weekly sessions with your mentor, personalized feedback on assignments, plus a supportive online community cheering you on. Private 1-on-1 or small group classes available.

ANIMATION

Become an animator for film and games! Explore our range of specialized 2D and 3D online animation courses and learn industry-standard software Autodesk Maya or Toon Boom Harmony.

You’ll be guided every step of the way by industry mentors who worked at studios like Disney, Ubisoft, ILM, Sony, and EA. CG Spectrum is an Authorized Toon Boom Traning Center, so you know you’ll be getting top quality industry training.

Animation Courses

  • Introduction to 2D Animation
  • 2D Animation Course
  • Advanced 2D Animation Course
  • Introduction to 3D Animation
  • 3D Animation Course
  • Advanced 3D Animation Course

3D MODELING

Take your first steps towards becoming a 3D modeler for film and games. Learn how to sculpt amazing characters, creatures and environments with our specialized online ZBrush career training.

Our industry-approved 3D modeling programs are led by top visual effects artists with years of experience working on major films and games. Build skills studios are hiring for and be ready to hit the ground running at your next job.

  • Introduction to 3D Modeling
  • 3D Modeling Course
  • Advanced 3D Modeling Course

DIGITAL PAINTING

Turn your artistic passion into a career! CG Spectrum’s specialized online digital painting courses prepare you for an exciting career as a concept artist or illustrator in the film, video game and publishing industries.

Choose from beginner or advanced digital painting programs, and discover how to plan, develop and present compelling industry-standard artwork using Adobe Photoshop. Progress faster each week through live weekly sessions with your industry mentor, and graduate with original art for your portfolio. Traditional artists welcome!

    • Introduction to Concept Art & Digital Illustration
    • Concept Art & Digital Illustration Course
    • Advanced Concept Art Course
    • Advanced Digital Illustration Course

GAME DEVELOPMENT

Make the switch from gamer to game developer! CG Spectrum’s online game dev courses show you how to turn your ideas into actual playable games. Learn from expert game designers and programmers who have worked on best-selling titles.

Whether you want to work for an AAA studio, become an indie developer, or learn unreal engine to get into the realtime 3D and virtual production space, CG Spectrum’s job-focused career training equips you with relevant, practical skills to help launch your career in the video game industry.

      • Introduction to Game Design
      • Game Design Course
      • Introduction to Game Programming
      • Game Programming Course
      • Foundations for Game Art & Animation Course
      • Introduction to Realtime 3D & Virtual Production
      • Realtime 3D Technical Art & Virtual Production Diploma
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VISUAL EFFECTS

Visual effects is an exciting career where no two days are the same! Start your journey as an FX or compositing artist with personalized mentorship from leading artists who have worked on your favorite blockbuster films.

You’ll learn how to seamlessly integrate green screen footage with digital assets using Nuke, or create mind-blowing explosions, destruction, water simulations and more using Houdini. CG Spectrum’s VFX courses are ideal for both beginners and established artists wanting to upgrade their skills or switch specialties.

  • Foundations for VFX Course
  • Introduction to Houdini FX
  • Houdini FX Course
  • Introduction to Nuke Compositing
  • Nuke Compositing Course

These platforms can provide targeted information and skills for game design. Plus they typically have convenient course loads and flexible pacing so you can still have a life. Oh yeah, and they’re offered at a price that won’t obliterate your bank account.

If the world of online game design courses still isn’t “formal” enough for you, there are colleges that offer game design courses.

How to Find the Best Game Design Schools

Schools like Digipen Institute of Technology, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the Savannah College of Art and Design have highly rated game design and game development programs.

The number of schools offering game design programs continues to grow–so check out our convenient lists of popular game design schools or digital animation schools for a good place to start your search.

You’ll also find some programs that are in between the freedom of a self-paced online course and the rigid and expensive education of a college program.

CG Spectrum and Animation Mentor are a couple of programs we recommend.

The point is, you have options. Whatever your other life commitments are, there is a workable solution for learning game design.

But remember, a program certificate or a game design degree are not the only ways to enter the field (and they’re far from a guarantee):

  • It’s a competitive field
  • Game design programs are growing in number
  • The supply of game design graduates has grown beyond the demand for them
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Not to mention the majority of industry veterans broke into the industry without getting a game design degree–the game design degree is a fairly new phenomenon.

The degree likely won’t be the differentiator… No, your portfolio is the key.

Building Your Portfolio

If you want to stand out, you need to build up your portfolio.

P.S. If you get a college degree in game design, you still need to put some extra-curricular time into your portfolio.

If your portfolio only has projects you completed at school, it will look like thousands of other game design students’ portfolios, who completed similar projects in similar programs.

You need to differentiate yourself. The only way to do that is to create your own games. Create in your free time. Create with your friends. Create create create!

Getting a Job


So your portfolio is the differentiator.

The next step is to figure out where you want to work.

Some cities, like Vancouver, are game design and animation studio hotbeds.

There are entry-level video game jobs you can get that could eventually lead to advancement opportunities.

When you find promising game development studios, see if you can invite an employee out to coffee and pick their brain about how they got where they did.

Find ways to network that work for you. Build up your contact list as you make projects, interact in online game design forums, or attend classes.

Talk to people. Work on projects and collaborate with other aspiring game designers. Stay in touch with like-minded individuals. Surround yourself with motivated people. Offer feedback on their projects. Solicit feedback on your own projects.

If a paid gig isn’t on the cards, do your best to land a game development internship. These are great ways to learn the business, get some experience, and grow your portfolio. Do a good job, and you can turn that internship into a paid job.

If a big studio doesn’t call you, there’s always the possibility of starting your own studio. Technology makes it easy to start an indie game company (but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to succeed).

Good Luck!

Wherever you want to go with game design, you’ve taken a great first step in the right direction–you’ve started researching.

Good luck with your journey (and let us know how we can help)!