Playing the Game – How a Good Idea Becomes a Video Game

Have you ever played a video game and had an idea how to make it better? Or perhaps had a unique idea for one you would like to play, but had no idea how to make it happen?

Video games are big business and good ideas are always in demand. Here, in brief, is how video games are created and how you might fit into the picture.

It all starts with the big idea

Is your idea a new concept or a variation of a game already in existence? Does if fall conveniently into an established genre or does it cross lines? Start by thinking through your idea and consider the basic concept, the gameplay, features, setting and story, and the target customer base. Whoever sponsors the creation of your idea will need to consider staffing requirements and budget estimates.

The game designer

The game designer is the person who designs the gameplay, creating the rules and structure of a game. Often the project will be carried out by a team, among which will be a lead designer coordinating the contributions of a systems designer (who designs and deconflicts the rules of the game) and an environmental designer who creates the environment of the game, the levels, and the missions.

Game designers make a decent living with salaries upwards of $60,000. There are many schools that train game designers, so you can study to be one in college. The best game design colleges are found in institutions with great IT departments.

Subspecies of game design

Game designers specialize. Someone has to create the backstory, the setting, and the theme of the game. This is “world design,” which creates a universe (or map) along with the themes and areas the players will follow. Everything in the game has to be set within the world design.

System design creates the rules of the game and the underlying mathematical structure. This is everything that makes the game function properly. Content design, on the other hand,creates the characters, items, puzzles, and the missions. It is basically any feature of the game that is not essential for it to function properly.

Game writing

Game writing creates the dialogue, text, and story, just like a novel or screenplay. It includes the voice acting, music, and text.

Unlike novels and movies, a game will have different levels and features which the player can choose or earn the right to play. The level designer must consider lighting, space, framing, color, and contrast to keep the player’s attention and guide or mislead the player in a specific direction through the game world.

User interface design

The user interface designer constructs the player interactions and feedback interface, creating the menus or heads-up displays. The user interface also designs the game mechanics, determining how much information to give the player and in what manner the designer informs the player about the world. These choices greatly influence the mood of the game, affecting the player in clearly understood ways.