26.04.202410 min
Valid Kazimi
Room 8 Group

Valid KazimiCreative ManagerRoom 8 Group

How to become a Game Designer

Learn the Game Designer's role & responsibilities and check what you need to know to become one.

How to become a Game Designer

Times are changing, but a game designer remains a crucial figure in game development. An almost mysterious figure among players, the role of a game designer might seem an obscure job. How does one become a game designer? What exactly are they in charge of? And, more importantly, why are game designers still so crucial for development processes? Let’s break it down and learn more about the superheroes behind our favorite games. 

To shed some light on who game designers are and what they do, we talked to Valid Kazimi. He's been a Game Design Manager for several years and recently stepped into the role of Creative Manager at Solid Bash by Room 8 Group.

Let’s start with the basics — how did you become a Game Designer?

I got my Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering and my Master’s in Computer Systems and Networks, and I took my first steps into entrepreneurship and management during my studies. Looking to find my place in IT, I delved into iOS development. Guided by my interest in mobile games and applications—I was an active mobile gamer—I naturally gravitated towards mobile development. However, quite soon, I found myself hitting the ceiling in terms of the challenges—I was reaching the limits of what I could learn on my own or find online. Seeking a more stimulating environment, I explored opportunities in corporate settings. After getting in touch with several companies, I found a fitting opportunity at an IT company, where I started as an intern. I eventually completed the internship and became a member of the team. However, I had a strong belief that my true calling lay in game development.

I remember how, sometime later, a position for a game designer opened up at Room 8 Group, perfectly aligning with my long-term aspirations. I found inspiration to pursue this opportunity during one of the lectures I attended, delivered by a successful game developer known for creating games for social networks. Following the lecture, I had a chat with the speaker and other industry professionals, sharing my story and aspirations, including the opportunity at Room 8 Group. They encouraged me to give it a shot, so I did. A few years later, I am still pursuing this career path, realizing it was a great choice.

What is a Game Designer’s main role in game development

A game designer’s areas of responsibility vary from studio to studio and sometimes from project to project. When it comes to Room 8 Group and particularly Solid Bash, a game designer acts like a universal translator, ensuring everyone on the team sees and understands the project’s grand vision. Holding the vision is only one side of the coin; knowing how to turn the vision into reality is another.

For example, let’s say we’re working on a project with a production cycle of 12 months. You need someone to ensure that the team of designers, developers, QA specialists, and artists understand what they are working on and what the end goal is. You must establish communication and transparency, describe the game, keep team members engaged, and, most importantly, stay open to feedback, ideas, and solutions no matter where they come from. The game must be balanced, features must work as intended, and the vision must be executed. 

To achieve everything mentioned above, we must keep records of our steps. Game designers document decisions, they design and describe features, systems, mechanics, narrative, and everything else that is part of the game. They need to ensure that all elements are in the right place. 

Why is a game designer a crucial specialist in a team?

Nowadays, game designers are as relevant as ever in game development. They’re like a Swiss Army knife: people with diverse experience and knowledge about every part of game development. 

At Solid Bash, we use Scrum teams for our projects. So, in every Scrum team, we have a configuration of one game designer for three developers. It is an appropriate number to work on features, support developers, and support documentation.

In the case of big game development companies, we can see how game designers are becoming more and more specialized in their skills. Nowadays, we can see specialists like open-world designers, combat designers, game economy designers, quest designers, narrative designers, multiplayer designers, technical designers, AI designers, and so on. Different studios have multiple designers for different tasks and goals that need to be achieved in the project.

Summing it up, I can say that a game designer is like an architect who envisions a labyrinth's structure. They may not always be the ones who lay the brick, but they know where it needs to go. 

Solid Bash offers external services to game development companies. How do you divide roles and responsibilities with the client’s in-house team?

The degree of our involvement depends on the type of collaboration. If we talk about full-cycle development, the main responsibility for designing the game is on us. We receive directions from our clients and then work on features, mechanics, core loop, gameplay, setting, and so on. 

If we are talking about co-development, we sometimes work alongside the client’s designers. They can oversee the development process and give us specific instructions to help where needed. Sometimes, we even share features between our designers and our clients’ designers. The focus is more precise during co-development, as the direction mainly comes from the client, who (mostly) clearly understands the areas where they require our expertise. 

Are there specific challenges that spice up the life of a Game Designer?

Being a game designer is quite challenging by default. It is about constantly finding the right rhythm and balance when working on any project. You also have to effectively convey ideas, research, and conclusions verbally and in writing to other team members. And, of course, you need to be in sync with the market and really understand what makes your players tick.

Game design is always about building experiences that will keep players engaged. And the main challenge is to stay on top of the entire process and make the right decisions that ensure further success. As a game designer, it is your responsibility to foresee how the project will look in a few months. It's a journey that blends creativity with strategic finesse: the goal is to craft an extraordinary gaming experience.

And what do you love about being a Game Designer?

Making a game from scratch turned out to be way more rewarding than I ever imagined. Seeing a game come alive, working with a team all aiming for the same thing, and being all in on creating something totally new is just awesome. This hit me hard when I first started my career.

Also, game development is almost never a one-person show. Mostly, it’s about teamwork, and honestly, that's what I really love about it.

What tools would a Game Designer typically use?

When it comes to the tools we use, it depends on the development stage—vision formation, pre-production, production, or liveops. When I first joined the team, I expected to spend a year mastering specialized tools. However, that wasn’t really the case—we used everything basic, from pen and paper to the most common software available online. We use Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, and so on. 

While we possess expertise in Unreal Engine, our primary specialization lies in working with Unity for game development.

In terms of agile project management and documentation, we rely on Jira and Confluence, respectively. For online collaboration, FigJam is our go-to tool. 

For some of our projects, the master document is a presentation in Google Slides. These presentations typically span 40-50 slides, providing a comprehensive overview with specific links to more detailed documents. 

You’ve been doing this work for a while—how has game production changed over the years?

As someone who has worked at the same company for several years now, how we operated four years ago, or even two years ago, is no longer how we work today. 

We constantly improve our work processes while simultaneously working on numerous projects at a time. It allows us to test different frameworks, processes, and ways of development much faster than a linear structure when you develop one project after releasing the previous one. Furthermore, we don’t write big, chunky, good-old Game Design documents that are 80 to 150 pages long like we used to. These days, we are focused on what actually makes sense—what is helpful and useful for our designers, developers, artists, QA specialists, and other team members.

Do you see any popular trends driving the content of games today?

One of the most important trends, not only in game development but also in other industries, is DEI, which stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Game development is at the forefront of the world’s media, so we must drive the world forward and oppose such things as racism, sexism, and ageism. This is something I see only improving in the near future.

The second one is feeling-first design. It is mainly connected with AR and VR experiences and is becoming more significant because of these technological advances.

User-generated content is also a popular trend nowadays. The possibility for players to complement their in-game experiences with their own content and creativity builds a strong community around the game. You can see it in games like Minecraft, Roblox, and Fortnite.

Of course, there's also artificial intelligence. AI has experienced explosive growth over the last year. Developers are already exploring various applications and it’s really important not to stay behind.

Who can become a game designer?

There is no one-size-fits-all formula for becoming a game designer. In our team, we've got game designers who are deeply creative. We also have designers with a strong technical mindset. But, fundamentally, you've got to ask yourself: "Am I ready for continuous learning? Am I ready to take the initiative and be forward-thinking in every situation? Do I have the passion it takes to create games?” If you’re unsure about what it takes to create a game, just think about your love for games and the industry as a whole. That's a solid starting point. 

Every game designer plays games—it's essential, like authors reading books or mathematicians studying the works of other masters. So, you need to play games, organize your thoughts, write well, and visualize your ideas. Illustration skills aren't necessary; I'm not much of an artist myself. Instead, I use tools like FigJam—I convey my ideas through shapes and layouts. Rather than focusing on who can be a game designer, it's more helpful to consider who shouldn't be one. And above all, playing games is absolutely essential for a game designer. 

Reflect on your strengths, weaknesses, and what you bring to the table. Personally, I’m a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. I can handle any task, but I’ll never claim to be the best at everything. I focus on making progress through iteration, constantly seeking feedback, making adjustments, and repeating the cycle periodically.

Speaking about Solid Bash, we have 30 designers of different levels of expertise, specializations, and personality types. This rich diversity allows us to build a team tailored precisely for a project. Working in our diverse team is a blast because everyone brings a unique perspective to the table, adding richness and depth to our collective creativity.

Room 8 Group is the world’s fastest-growing strategic partner in external game development, co-development, art, trailers & cinematics production, and QA solutions for AA and AAA PC, console, and mobile titles. Since 2011, the company has co-created a multitude of award-winning projects for world-leading video game IPs, with publishers such as Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.

As a part of Room 8 Group, Solid Bash studio provides full-cycle & co-development services with a focus on mobile platforms.