Game Design–the revealing of phenomenon

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Game Design–the revealing of phenomenon or Who is a game designer–scientific anatomy of profession

    (analytical article)

The authorDmitry Ghervas



Many of novice developers consider that they know how to make games, having behind more games past and tried of them or attempts of mapping, modding in different engines and game editors. Even some programmers, more or less professional considers that they can cope with the task of making games. I do not want anyone to be sad, but I think here is not a correct position from side of beginners and programmers.

On the other side, should keep in mind that if someone learned as well work with different game engines, with any game editor, learned to program or to model the assets, it does not mean that he is a game designer ! In this case, such person, being from a number of developers, can be named exactly a game developer, but with more specific feature of the work, be it programming, level design, modeling and other. In fact, it is rather a gaming “technical worker”, which well versed in the technical aspects, more or less artistic from developed games. –Also as though some cameraman perfectly versed in working with a movie camera, but which has little idea about working with actors or directorial (regizoral, regie) designing, forming of an film. Here on plateau appear… who do you think? Yes – the director (regizor, metteur en scène)! In the case of games – is the game designer. Of course, he also enter in the category of game developers, but with a special specificity of work.

Unfortunately a significant part of specialists in the area of game development have a vague idea of such phenomenon as “game design“. And still unclear remains the profession of “game designer“. Come to clarify these phenomena, if you wish, in a more scientific aspect.

    Note: By the way, unofficial day of the game designer marked on August 6th.


In more general outline we know that an “game design” (development, composition, making of games) represent a creative process of elaboration of a certain game. And the person, who in some way make up the concept and the gameplay, style and the structure of the game, in general is named “game designer” (in English by the word “designer” first of all is meant the “artistic composer”, “decorator” of artistic works).

To clarify the role of the game designer in creating games and what would be his baggage of professional knowledge, I will pass to the analogies of certain professions from known art forms. It reference to the profession of “theater director” (metteur en scène, regizor de teatru) from dramatic arts and the profession of “film director” (regizor de film, кинорежиссёр) from cinematography, each of these professions having some similar characteristics of the respective arts. –Do not be surprised too much! The profession of game designer (it can be said and director of games!!!) greatly resemble (similar, look like) to the theater and film director. But having its special characteristics, his special specific.

–Lets see what are the characteristics, the similarities and the differences of these three professions:

The Theater Director

(theatrical arts): analyzes the selected play (-theatrical scenario, created by playwright or by director himself, usually inspired by a literary work or having the original story), working with actors on the analysis of the roles and of the mise-en-scènes (play stagings, staged scenes posted compositionally on a theatrical scene), also on entire scenes from the play; works with scenographer (set designer, decorator, stage designer of interior) over the decor; with the lighting designer, plus working with dresser (costume designer) and if necessary, with the music composer; makes directorial notes over play (where can describe the mise-en-scenes, decorations or changes play according to their creative interests); then presents the final version of the play on the scene of some the theater (inside the theater or outside, sometimes on the scene located on street); the spectacle (the show, the play) is usually played by the same actors over one or several theatrical seasons (the time period with regular representations and work on the new spectacles).

The Film Director

(cinematography) analyze the screenplay (written by screenwriter or by the director himself, usually inspired from the literary work or having an original story), working with the actors, with the lighters and the cameraman, with the dresser and the composer, with special effects supervisor, with sound editor (named yet sound engineer or sound director) and with other professionals having a direct or indirect link with the cinema. Of course, the most important is considered development of the director’s scenario on the basis of literary version where the film director divides each scene (sequences) to smaller cinematic frames, describe each frame separately, according to cinematic language (with cinematic framing, for example – close-up, extreme close-up, medium close-up, medium shot, medium long shot, long shot, extreme long shot or distance shot). The director’s scenario more like a very large and long scheme to dozens of pages, having several sections with notes in them, where there are passages of the literary scenario as well the descriptions with cinematic language, less literary, made by the director.

In rare cases the place of film director may take the cameraman, in this case called the director of photography, who still needs to be able to understand the artistic and technical aspects of the film (movie). Already with the actors be able to work a theater director or more experienced actor.

Final versions of movies usually presented (is projected) on the screens of the movie theaters (cinemas), inside or outside the building. Another option is edition of movies on different physical storage media (disks, tapes etc.) for home viewing in a narrow range of viewers. With the advent of the Internet also appeared specialized web sites to watch movies online for payments or free (-but with intrusive advertising), or buying the movie, followed by downloading per piece.

The Game Designer

(director of games; art - interactivography): create the game concept, the game mechanics, working with the programmers, the painters and the music composer, with the modelers, the mappers (also called level designers), create the design-document (is a kind of guide, instruction with extensive description, handbook) with which guided the developers during the game creation; forming the gameplay by levels, according to the literary scenario (created by writer or game designer himself; –through forming the gameplay is considered a detailed description of the action in game at every level – a sort of directed version of the game scenario!); can also make a movie director’s description of cut-scenes (if there is such cinematic sequences in the game).

    Note: Some experts suggest to exclude the term “gameplay”, replaced by other terms less logical ([i]in my opinion[/i]) from the standpoint of the analyzed area. However, this term has long use. Overall, gameplay still represents the fundamental narration, the basis of any game. Gameplay can be most correct described it as directing of the game and should be properly that these two terms be together ([i]jointly[/i]) entered in the specialized literature. Namely written simultaneously or if you wish, written alternately as in this example – gameplay ([i]directing of the game; ro. – regie de joc[/i]), also – scenario of the gameplay or gameplay scenario ([i]directorial scenario of the game; ro. – scenariu regizoral al jocului[/i]).

Respectively, we conclude that the main difference of the game designer compared to (between) an theater director or film consists of the following:

1. Drafting (composing, making) of the so-called “design-document”, where it enters compartments such as the concept of gameplay, game mechanics, description of the characters, the subject of game (only the subject, not the full scenario!), description of the levels and design of the virtual environment, description of the menus, of the graphic user interface (GUI), of the balance of the active objects, description of the bonuses, of the skill system etc. If desired can be inserted the schemes of levels, art concepts of the characters and the functional objects, the screenshots of the game, the drawings of the menu and so on.

2. Creating of the gameplay scenario (directorial scenario of the gameplay, created on the basis of the literary scenario) with a detailed description of the action on the levels.

    Note: By the way, the literary scenario and also the gameplay scenario ([i]directorial[/i]) of the game is recommended to take ([i]to kept[/i]) separately from design document, for do not to increase too much its volume.

The finalized versions of the game are published on certain media (disks, flash sticks, before – on cartridges, as well on diskettes or magnetic tape cassettes; by the way, some modern portable console still uses the cartridges). With the advent of the Internet, appeared specialized sites for online sales by piece or by subscription with download, or shareware (trying the product with a time limit or having reduced content, especially for the purchase of later). There exist sites for games of flash format or with special player for presentation of the demo versions or even full versions of some games, for a certain payment or for free, but with imposed advertising. Also exist online versions “Free-to-play” (download free, but only play online, plus purchase of virtual functional elements and objects for their use in the game); paid services «Cloud» (play almost on any electronic digital devices, but with direct and continuous connection by cable or by waves with specialized services, where the games is physically copied and where the process of playing is handled, processed on equipment that is present there); the type of service «Early Acces Game» (games with early access – buying games that are in the process of developing, that allows the players to try games early, but at the same time the developers have access to early financing of its project).

    Note: exist services like “crowdfunding” – self-financing, fundraising, collecting of money from user-players through specialized sites ([i]usually have great success only the studios and the developers very known and popular[/i]); this type of service is extended to other forms of art; read more detail separately.


So I hope, however, that you see now better what represent itself the profession of game designer, what is the difference, and at the same time, which is the similarities of a game designer with the director of theater or film. Saying simple, the game designer is something like an director of games, so is an artist, a man of art.

Respectively, the game design represent the artistic directorial process of creating of a certain game.

So do not confuse the profession and the occupation or even aspirations of someone regarding the creation of a game.

Of course, to become the game designer is need to study in detail the field of gaming, different forms of arts, aesthetics and philosophy, history of arts, especially of the theater, of the cinematography and of the interactivography, plus study of the computer graphics etc. etc. etc. Such knowledge can be obtained to the courses in specialized institutions or during for many years with participation in the creation of a certain number of games, accumulating experience regarding different aspects of development. But the most important is the artistic experience! – In no case do not forget about it.

And now for the finale I remind you that the game designer, on the other side, is also an game developer, because he also deals with the development of games, but with great specificity of work, which was concretized earlier. But we can say that he has a especial status (is meant more special), marked by the most important occupation – artistic forming of the game, from concept to release.


The author: Dmitry Ghervas







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