Educational Feature: ‘Types of Game Designers’

The generic role of ‘game designer’ is, to some extent, obsolete. Now there are level designers, leads, junior designers, usability experts, and other people with design-y titles on their business cards. A
January 17, 2008
The generic role of ‘game designer’ is, to some extent, obsolete. Nowadays, it’s more common to find a host of designers, from level designers, to leads and juniors, to writers and content experts. A new educational feature on explains the differences between all these roles and in effect makes clear for students what it means to be on the design side of game development. Author Brenda Brathwaite, herself a game designer as well as an educator at Savannah College of Art and Design, came up with 12 possible titles for someone who works on game design. In this introduction to her article, she explains how and why so many titles came to be: “When I got into the industry way back in the 1980s, there was one type of game designer in our industry. We called him ‘programmer.’ He (or she in the case of the rare few like Dona Bailey) was often a one-man show responsible for design, programming, sound, and art all in one. I worked with one of these individuals right on up until 1988, in fact. Eventually, games grew larger, and with the increased size came a specialization of tasks. Teams formed, and we had artists, programmers, designers and even a sound person. Eventually producers came along to network and schedule the increasingly growing teams. In the last ten years, but more so in the last five, we’ve seen greater specialization within the fields themselves so that now, and at least in my field, the term ‘game designer’ sounds general. It’s a perfectly okay term to use on indie game projects, but when you’re talking about a big Xbox 360 production, saying, ‘I’m the game designer,’ is likely to result in a follow up, ‘Yeah, but what exactly did you design?’” Visit to read the new article.

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