Games designer

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Trent, early-20s

"I always wanted to be a famous Hollywood director – then I discovered that designing games was an actual job, and I thought, 'Forget Hollywood! I can make my stories come to life in games!'".

Trent dreamed of bringing his ideas to life as a famous Hollywood director – then he had an even better idea. Trent now has what many would consider the dream job – he’s a Games Designer. He loves the challenge of using both his creative and technical skills to transform a story into a finished game, but he’s the first to admit there’s a lot hard work involved.

Where did your ICT career begin?

I wrote a lot of stories as a kid and got my friends to act them out. I always wanted to be a famous Hollywood director – then I discovered that designing games was an actual job, and I thought, ‘Forget Hollywood! I can make my stories come to life in games!’

I took a roundabout path to games developing – I studied a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing at Chisholm TAFE. I had my start in the industry writing for games publications and The Sunday Age magazine and a few years ago I had an award-winning podcast and radio show, The Game Geek.

But I wanted to make the leap from writing about games, to actually writing them. Through online tutorials I learnt a lot about the software that games designers use. I taught myself games design theory and 3D modelling, to help me bring my ideas to life.

I would attend every industry show and I made a huge effort to meet people in the business.  After a lot of hard work promoting myself as someone who was serious about becoming a games designer, I eventually got my break as junior designer with a local games developer.

Trent, what do you do?

I’m a Games designer for a local games company. I write the story which is the ‘backbone’ of the game, and I also design the gameplay.

Games are, of course, far more dynamic and interactive than a normal story, so games writers really need to be games designers as well. I need to think about how the game will unfold, the actual gameplay, as well as the setting, the rules of the game and the story. Writing and designing games is a creative process, but you need to have good technical skills and knowledge to bring your ideas to life as a game.

What sort of projects do you work on?

I was a writer and designer on Scooby-Doo! First Frights, a Warner Bros kids action-adventure game for the Wii, Nintendo DS and PlayStation 2 platforms. I was also a games designer on Kid Adventures: Sky Captain for Nintendo Wii. And I’m working on an action–adventure title for a major US publisher.

What do you like most about your job? And what are some of the challenges?

I love working with both creative and technical specialists. I get a real buzz out of working to tight deadlines, and coming up with creative solutions to technical problems (preferably solutions that don’t blow out the project budget!).

Foreseeing potential problems in games design is a real challenge. Games are an extremely complex medium and there's a lot that goes into making them work, so it doesn't take much for them to break. If you miss something when you’re first designing a game, it’s that much harder to go back and find a solution for any problems that come up.

A project can take 12–15 months of really hard work, but in the end you have something to show for it – a game that is out there for all to enjoy.

What kind of interaction do you have with other people?

I would say about 90 per cent of my day is spent interfacing with people – designers, artists, programmers, engineers, animators, production, management, publishers – pretty much everyone involved in the production of the game.

For each product, there's always a lot of discussion, on a lot of topics. For me, remaining connected to the game and the rest of the team working on the game is highly important.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in ICT?

Multiskill. You need at least a basic understanding across a multitude of disciplines so you can communicate effectively with everyone else working on the game. As a games developer you need to have good technical skills, but being a designer/creative leader requires people skills too.

Above all, you need to be passionate about games – this industry is a lot of fun, but it’s also very, very competitive out there!

Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).