How to get into game design, from someone who’s done it before

Video games have a moment. Thanks to a growing number of titles from major studios and beloved indie gems, games are finally being recognized as a true art form.

What was once considered a niche hobby has turned into an increasingly mature and rapidly growing industry, worth an occasional $4 billion in Australia alone. Games these days aren’t just about shooting bad guys, and even those that are are becoming big blockbuster productions.

Today, games are used to tell complex and emotional stories. With so many amazing games available now, and bigger and better ones being created every year, there’s never been a better time to get involved.

So to find out how to get into game design, we talked to three people about Billy Blue College of Design at Torrens University Australia who work in the industry on how to turn a passion for games into a career.

What Kind of Career Will a Game Design Degree Lead You To?

Many people associate game design with direct coding. And while that’s partly true, Dylan Faith, a graduate of Billy Blue’s game design programsays making games is more like working in the film industry.

“The director can provide artistic direction, but the film is edited by hundreds or thousands of talented people.”

This includes the artists who make it look good, the coders who make it work, and the designers who bring it all together. Then there are the marketers who sell the products and the administrative teams who manage everything behind the scenes.

What skills will prepare you to study game design?

Unreal Engine junior designer and Billy Blue graduate Alexandra Sheather says that Google and YouTube are your best friends when you’re getting into game design. “There are so many creators sharing their knowledge.”

She recommends picking an engine, like Unreal Engine, CryEngine, or Source 2, and experimenting with predefined resources. This will help you determine what you like best and which study options are best for you.

“The only thing you really need to get into the gaming industry is a passion for games and a willingness to learn,” says Faith, who says it’s as simple as brushing up on your math if you are interested in coding or drawing your own concept art if you’re an artist – all of which are conveniently covered in Billy Blue’s Playing Class.

Image: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

What would you say to young girls interested in studying game design?

“The world needs your unique perspective,” says Tece Bayrak, senior lecturer in the game development department at Media Design School New Zealand – the sister school of Billy Blue College of Design.

She encourages anyone with a passion to get involved. If you’re not a serious gamer but want to tell stories, create code, or design worlds, you’re adding a new perspective to the industry.

The game design industry is very welcoming of women these days, but Sheather still recommends joining a club. “There are so many gaming clubs, especially women in gaming clubs,” she says, and they can provide support, encouragement, and a network of friends and mentors for anyone just starting out.

Besides providing entertainment, how can games help people?

Games don’t need a deeper meaning to be validated. But Bayrak, who is leading a research project to use games to help with Parkinson’s disease rehabilitation, says there is a lot of work being done to find new uses for them. “I truly believe that games are more than entertainment devices, and their potential is limitless.”

Games are used as education, forms of therapy and rehabilitationand to help people stay fit and healthy.

“With the advent of virtual reality, we’re seeing a whole new range of uses for video games outside of entertainment,” says Faith. VR games are uniquely interactive and are even used to help train emergency service personnel and doctors.

What are the most exciting things happening in the game design and development industry?

There really has never been a more exciting time to get into game design. Amid a steady wave of technological advancements, Unreal Engine 5 was announced earlier this year with plenty of new developer tools that Sheather says could drastically change the things games are capable of.

Bayrak says there are an abundance of tools like the Unreal Engine that are freely available to everyone. “You no longer need to work in a large company or have a huge team to have access to professional tools.”

“The games industry is still growing, unlike many other areas,” she says. “The variety of games is increasing, we’re seeing more and more examples of storytelling and emotional exploration. It’s really exciting on all levels.

Venture into game design and join a $4 billion industry in as little as 12 months with a Billy Blue’s Game Design and Development Diploma.

(Main image: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock)