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Some dilemmas in Game Designer career

Some hard questions and situations and still hope that the perfect answers are exist somewhere in the world.

After some years in the game industry as a Game Designer and Producer, these are something I meet and keep thinking about. Hope that the perfect answers are exist somewhere in the world.

1. The team usually chase the foolish dream of a guy with lowest experience and education
It sounds ridiculous but I've seen it many times to be familiar with. It's even more terrible in the country where game industry is still new and qualified game designers are impossible to exist.

  • Education: We don't expect that all of our GD have a GD degree because those courses are rare and it's hard to persuade our parent to pay for it (especially in Asia). As in all business, the freshmen will often need many training before being useful. But a bachelor or engineer degree is a solid proof that you have a workable brain, know some logical thinking and scientific approaches, be able to read book for self-education. Most of applicants I've got don't even have a diploma. The only thing they have is playing-game experience. Eating a lot of food doesn't make us a chef. Knowing a lot of games and their feature are good but not enough.
  • Experience: Of course we all value the experience but still a miss calculation here. A 2-year GD is not equal to 2-year DEV or Artist. To be fair, we need to add the time they spent to practice their expertise. For DEV, it could be at least 2 more years when they studied their programming course in college. For Artist, it could be more if they love drawing from childhood. But for GD, again, rare to be more than zero.

The serious problem is we don't recognize it until too late to save the project.

For the young talents who are seeking a jobs, please not to be upset when most of the jobs required 3++ years of experience. The employers may have suffered a lot from bad GDs.

For those who already recognized it: Great! It's not so hard. But it's still troublesome to avoid. We may meet the second dilemma.

2. To be respected or not
Once upon a time, I tried to teach my juniors about the 1st dilemma, made them know their situation, advise them to be humble. But then they become "too humble". No one really trusted them to do their jobs. A lot of arguments occured for a tiny issue because everyone thought they can do better than the GDs. (Well, maybe I was a better teacher !!!)

In contrast side, it's easy to guess. A well-respected GD could become over-confident, blind and deaf to the right feedback.

3. Newness or Specialization
It's a hard question we met when just survived through a 2-year project. Should we keep making a new similar game or try something new ?

  • Specialization: We already have lots of experience, knowledge, insight, infrastructure for the genre. Usually, we also have a lot of regret issues which we want to fix in the new title. But at the same time, all the team are already extremely bored after 3 years of playing the similar games. It's hard to have something really fresh when our minds seem to be locked in a small room.
  • Newness: Yes, we could have fun to discover the new land again. But it comes with uncertainty and the risk of failed projects. Soon or late, we will know that the land is full of fearsome opponents.

In most of case, the specialization makes more sense for a business. But for personal, it's our own tricky choice.

4. Veteran GD or so-so Producer
Another career choice but for long term. Many GDs will be at that point after a few years of working and many people have selected "Producer" (at least in my own observation). The reasons are vary: more respect, higher power, better wage... Is it right for the industry to let this trend happen ? We lost a lot of senior GDs to have dozens of so-so producers. Right now, some of us are trying to be the best of both world. But an hour for making schedule or budget plan is an hour we don't have to read more useful stuffs about GD. At the end, there're only 24 hours a day.

That's it. If you have our own answer or dilemma, please don't hasitate to share.

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