Common Misconceptions About Game Design And Development

January 14, 2016

If there’s one thing that the internet and social media have shown us, it’s that people really like expressing their feelings and opinions. Take a look at the page of a struggling sports team and you will likely see a legion of fans presenting their infallible ideas for making the team great. And although many of them do, in fact, love the sport, it’s safe to say that few (if any) of them have any sports management experience at all.

Even though more people than ever are playing video games today, only a small percent know what goes on behind the scenes. Perhaps this is why many gamers believe some of the following misconceptions surrounding the industry.

You Need A Programming Background To Be A Great Game Developer

Since video games are digital and thus created with the use of computers, programming is a useful skill to have. There’s great value in a game designer who not only presents ideas but also understands the technical aspects of implementing them. The late Satoru Iwata himself, who rose to become the president of Nintendo, got his start as a programmer. But the truth is, there are plenty of game designers working in our industry that have little to no programming knowledge.

Shigeru Miyamoto and Mario figure
Shigeru Miyamoto with Mario in 1995.

In fact, some of the best game developers of all time did not study computer programming before breaking into the industry. For example, Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma were hired by Nintendo as graphic artists before moving up to bigger roles. Hideo Kojima and Hironobu Sakaguchi, the men who helped turn Metal Gear and Final Fantasy into powerful franchises, studied scriptwriting and film directing.

Everyone Who Works In The Video Game Industry Is Rich

It’s easy to see why people think that everyone who makes games for a living owns mansions, yachts, and sports cars. News sites and social media pages talk about the giant franchises like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, including the millions of units sold and billions of dollars made.

Wario with coins

The reality is that only an elite few who participate in the revenues from hit titlesup with enough cash to swim in. That said, game developers do in fact get paid pretty well. While you may not be able to buy a Lamborghini or private island, you will likely make a fine living while doing what you love— creating fun for others.

Good/Bad At Video Games = Good/Bad At Game Design

One common misconception among gamers is that because we are very good at a game, we automatically think we’d be good at making them. In turn, those who stink at games worry about their ability to make something great. Either way, the average gamer rarely understands the demanding process that goes into turning an idea into a fully-functioning game. So if you’re someone who wants to make games one day but aren’t as good at playing them as all your friends, fret not!

Professional Video Game Players

Of course, it does happen that pro players are sometimes hired to be designers. For example, Halo 5 developer, 343 Industries, hired Eric Hewitt (GH057ayame), one of the top Halo players in the world, to help design the new title’s multiplayer portion. Also Blizzard Entertainment hired pro Hearthstone player, Ryan Masterson (Realz), as an Associate Game Designer late last year. It is extremely rare. The norm is for people who build their skills making games (not necessarily playing them) to rise to the top in the game industry. Plenty of game developers can freely admit that although they’ve created some fantastic experiences, they suck at playing games themselves!

[su_note]Learn the skills you need to succeed as a game designer at the Game Design School at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.[/su_note]