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Game design is a large field, drawing from the fields of computer science/programming, creative writing, and graphic design. Game designers take the creative lead in imagining and bringing to life video game worlds. This article helps international students understand the nature of game design, distinguishes the discipline from other specialized game degrees and identifies the capacities in which game design graduates will be prepared to serve on a development team when working in a studio.

Video games are a thriving industry both in the US and abroad, and the number of careers pertaining to the creation of video games has increased exponentially. Seizing on this trend, a growing number of international students have decided to take their passion for playing video games and turn it into a career in game design. Designing video games is a dream job for many gamers, and the reasons that are making the decision to study game design so popular are plenty; the video game industry is home to diverse job opportunities, enjoyable and fun work environments and high starting salaries. International students who study game design will be on their way to a career that thrives on creativity and imagination.

However, not everyone who enjoys playing video games will enjoy creating them. In fact, creating a video game is a long and complex process with many subsequent tasks and roles required to make a finished, playable product. To successfully study game design, an international student will need to inquire about more than just the fun they will have being immersed in game-related curriculum. In order to know whether a degree in game design is right for them, international students will need to ask, "What is game design?"

So, what is game design? Game design is a subset of the field of video game development. Game design is a field with a broad focus. As such, the skills of a game designer are drawn from the fields of computer science and programming, creative writing and graphic design. Game designers take the creative lead in imagining and bringing to life video game stories, characters, gameplay, rules, interfaces, dialogue and environments. This being the case, a game designer is a cross between a writer, artist and programmer. It is an individual who presents a comprehensive artistic vision, while also possessing the technical skill to oversee and contribute to programming, image rendering, level design, digital editing and other construction aspects of game design.

A game designer's role on a development team differs from the specialized roles of graphic designers and programmers. Graphic designers and game programmers have specific tasks to accomplish in the division of labor that goes into creating a video game, international students can major in those specific disciplines if desired. However, international students who study game design in the US will be groomed to create their own video game from the ground up as well as take on a role on a development team. That being the case, international students who study game design must decide what role on a development team they would like to have upon graduation. Once a desired role has been established, an international student should then subsequently fine-tune to the degree they are to receive. This will ensure that they are optimally prepared for that particular role on a development team until they have the industry credibility necessary in order to be given the reins over creating their very own title.

Roles on a Development Team:

Game design is a diverse field that will equip graduates to both design and create their own video game universe, but what are the roles on a development team that game designers hold prior to being a lead designer? Here are a few options:

  • Level designer
  • Game writer/storyline developer
  • Game artist/content designer
  • Programmer/system designer
  • World designer
  • Interface designer

International students who study game design will become familiar with both the overall process of creating a video game as well as the individual elements of software engineering, programming and graphic design utilized in the actual construction of the game. In order to get the most out of studying game design and to increase the chance of a quick advance on a development team, international students should decide on a specific area of specialization ahead of time.

Despite the initial excitement and allure that comes with pursuing a dream occupation like game design, international students who want to get the most out of their decision to study game design in the United States will have to begin by asking important questions like, "What is game design?" Asking these types of preparatory questions will ensure that international students interested in designing their own video games are equipped to effectively contribute to game design teams until they are given the lead on their own project.

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