I am very interested in a career as a video game designer. to clarify i mean one of the people to figure out how the mechanics, story, levels and art all work together. To any designers on the website what post-secondary education should I look for? I know that typically they have knowledge of all different parts of game development but is there anything specific I should be looking for that would helpful as a base?
closed as not constructive by Byte56♦, Josh Petrie♦, Anko, bummzack, Trevor Powell Apr 12 '13 at 13:39
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I would say, make yourself useful as something else than game designer. Be it programming, graphics, level design, writing or music. Anything else than game design. Why is that? Cause game design is not entry point to game industry. I think you will have best chance to become game designer from jobs like programmer or artist... or writer if you somehow manage to become game writer (but it's about as hard as becoming game designer). Generally bigger your role on project = better chances that you may become game designer.
Judging based on those who I know in the AAA industry, the most common path to Game Designer, Lead Designer, Director, so on; is via Level Designer. Level design is one of the few entry level positions in the industry that both makes use of varied skills (programming, music, story, graphics) and also showcases them well in terms of Game Design. In a very real sense, level designers are smaller-scale Game Designers.
However, you need to be able able display all of these skills in your application. What I've seen work the best is having a portfolio of examples in the company's own product, or a related one where a mod tool isn't available. For example, if you want to work for Piranha Bytes on the next Gothic, you should submit example levels that show a mastery of all the aspects of the Elder Scrolls Construction Kit. Since Gothic doesn't have any studio provided mod tools.
If you can't swing something like that, you won't be able to get an entry level LD position. In this event your best bet is to get really good at one of the other entry level positions. The more technical the better, but there are examples of Lead Designers who have come up through art, music, and probably even testing.
This all focuses on being the Director/Lead Designer of a game. This is because the goal of basically all Game Designers is to design their own game, not the games of others. There are, however, non-lead Game Design positions. Especially now when every AAA title has mini-games of a million types. Someone needs to design these mini-games and typically that's someone who is either being tried out as a potential Lead Designer one day, or someone who has aspirations to that but is actually a member of another team. (Again, I see Level Designers filling this role the most.)
This is all apocryphal. I don't work in the AAA industry and never have. I do have a degree in Game Design, and do know a lot of folks in the industry and related fields. But I can't speak from personal experience. Perhaps someone can come along and edit this answer to include first-hand knowledge if they agree with the underlying premise.