You have probably thought about becoming a game designer at some point in your life, especially being an avid gamer yourself for a long time.
But then, having read the endless list of requirements and degrees that are needed to become a game designer or developer, it may seem like it’s only a dream that can possibly not come true.
But here is the truth,
You do not necessarily need to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science to become a game designer.
In fact, many of the best game designers you might have heard of started out with free educational material that can be readily found online.
You don’t also need to be a badass experienced coder to be a game designer, thanks to the availability of visual programming languages and engines such as GameMaker and the likes.
This post has been developed to show you how you can begin designing games, even without a degree. Let’s dive right in!
Learn how to code
Making and designing games basically involves writing codes. Not just the art, but also the skill of coding will teach you how to think logically and come up with efficient solutions to complex problems.
While it is an important step to take in designing your first game, there are dimensions to which you can feel towards programming.
Ask yourself whether you just want to learn it for a fun hobby, or you intend to make a career out of programming. Whatever your decision is, as long as it is driven by your desire to become a game designer, you will need to allocate some time for learning how to code.
If you are just starting, I recommend sacrificing one hour a day; 5 days a week. From here, you can choose the particular programming language you want to learn. For starters, you can begin with Python because its syntax is much easier to grasp.
Some online courses will reward you with certificates upon completion which you can, later on, add to your portfolio as a game designer. This leads us to the next step with more details on online courses.
Start Online Game Development Courses
There are various courses on game design and programming on e-learning platforms like Udemy or Udacity which you can explore and learn from.
This is where you will see tons of C# tutorials, courses on 2D & 3D game development in Unity, and also resources on how to design board games.
It is also the right place to learn how to hone your game design career if you are ready to take it to the next level. True, most of these courses will require you to pay a certain fee, but it is worth it – better than the free courses and blogs on YouTube because you will likely not get customized information tailored specifically for you from the latter.
There are also no 1-to-1 coaching sessions with experienced tutors on Youtube.
Some of these sites that offer online courses on game designing will reward you with certificates, which you can not get from just watching random Youtube videos.
Learn additional gaming-related skills
Skills like Sketching, Concept Art, Writing, and the likes will come really handy in your game designing career. It is one of the leverages that most game designers with degrees use to position themselves for high-end gigs.
In other words, to become a seasoned game designer without a degree goes beyond knowing how to code. You’ll need a creative vision that boils your creativity to 2D sprites or 3D models.
Trust me, art concept is a highly required skill for game programming.
Hence, it will be very helpful if you take a few art classes and learn how to design sprites or pixel graphics. Luckily, there are dozens of free online courses for these, especially on Udemy.
Be vast in games from different genres
When you are eventually into the game designing world, you will realize that having the right vision is quite important in creating a really good game. To professional game designers, it all begins with a concept, of how the game should look and play.
If you are not conversant with games yourself, it will be quite difficult to come up with a good idea. This is why you should be an avid gamer yourself, observe well-designed games from different time periods, discover what their creators were thinking when they put in a certain mechanic, and observe the reason behind the choice of HUD.
If you play different games and are familiar with different game genres, you will easily be able to know what works and what doesn’t in game designing. It is just the way you can’t become a writer if you never read books.
Utilize free game engines
My guess is that you are probably new to game development and designing, my strong recommendation will be that you make use of freely available game engines instead of trying to write your own.
There are some engines that provide a complete set of tools necessary in creating a game from concept level to playable game, for example, Unity, Unreal, Godot, and GameMaker which I mentioned earlier.
The fun fact is that there are some game developers with multiple college degrees and decades of experience who still struggle to create an engine and settle for these engines.
If you are new to all of these, you can as well find courses on how to utilize them – for Unity and Unreal.
Follow experienced people
I have learned from a mentor that the best and quickest way to learn anything, any skill, is to observe and review the work of experts.
This also applies to gaming. If you are starting game development, especially aiming to be one without a degree, you will need to follow experienced people, I mean the likes of Alexander Zotov, a famous indie game developer, and Sykoo on YouTube.
You can check out this article created by Quyum to find out some other developers you can follow on Twitter.
You will learn a lot from their quotes, videos, and posts. In fact, some of the things we recommend in this post are inspired by the knowledge other experts shared in their videos.
Read Gamedev forums/blogs
Building your portfolio as a game designer
Game designing should go beyond being a hubby or fun. Many people use it to put food on the table, and you can do so too with all the self-taught knowledge you will acquire.
After honing the skill, the next step is to get a job at some established game studio. The sad truth is that having a bachelor’s in art design or programming appears to be what most companies want.
But the reality is that they are looking for people with prior experience, not just the qualifications – which is a sign that you can do the job. Building a strong portfolio is one way to demonstrate your level of experience as a game developer.
The truth is that a lot of people are likely to give up on their game development aspirations mid-way because it takes too much time and effort. Little do they know that it takes constant effort, and a desire to keep learning.
Again, You do not necessarily need to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science to become a game designer. And I hope you found this article worthy to be pinned to your Game Development board.
Ultimately, it is important that you do not give up on what you set out to achieve.
Do you have any challenges accessing any of the resources recommended in this post? Any other tip on becoming a game designer without a degree that I forgot to add? Feel free to share in the comments.
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