Game DesignersGame Designers are responsible for devising what a game consists of and how it plays. They plan anddefine all the elements and components of a game: its setting; structure; rules; story flow; characters; theobjects, props, vehicles, and devices available to the characters; interface design; and modes of play.Sometimes the Game Designer is the originator of the game’s concept or premise. More often, most ofthe core ingredients are already defined and the Game Designer must decide how to create the bestgame using these elements, within the constraints of budget and timescale.Games are usually large projects and the design process might be shared between a number of differentpeople, overseen by the Lead Designer.Game Designers are employed by development studios, both independent and publisher-owned. Thecurrent industry climate means that most conventional publishers and developers are increasingly riskaverse.Originality and creativity are valued, but a thorough knowledge of a game’s target audience and market isequally if not more important. Game Designers should also have a deep understanding of the capabilitiesand benefits of different hardware platforms (eg PC, console, mobile device, etc.), as well as familiaritywith software technologies and techniques appropriate to each platform.A lot of game design builds on what’s gone before, but as the medium develops and matures thechallenge for the Game Designer is to create new and engaging titles that will expand the current genrebase and cater to new audiences.
ProgrammersProgrammers work at the heart of the game development process. They design and write the computercode that runs and controls the game, incorporating and adapting any ready made code libraries andwriting custom code as needed. They test the code and fix bugs, and they also develop customised tools foruse by other members of the development team. Different platforms (gamesconsoles, PCs, handhelds, mobiles, etc.) have particular programming requirements and there are alsovarious specialisms within programming, such as physics programming, AI (artificial intelligence), 3D enginedevelopment, interface and control systems.Games development is an increasingly complex process and large teams of Programmers might be involvedin creating a game, some in leadership roles, some working on just one aspect. Programmers are employedby development studios – publisher owned and independent. They also work for middleware producers, anincreasingly important sector providing cross platform graphics rendering, game physics, soundmanagement, AI, and other specialist tools. Programmers might also work for localisation companies whichtranslate and re-version games for different territories.The work is office based and the atmosphere is usually informal. It can also be a highly pressurised job andProgrammers often work very long hours, particularly as launch dates approach. The financial rewards forgood Programmers are potentially high and their skills are in demand not just in the UK, but also in Europeand the US.
External ProducersAs the job title suggest, the External Producer is responsible for ensuring the successful delivery of agame, while working externally from the development team.External Producers are almost always employed by a game publisher. Working out of the publishers headoffice, they will liaise between the publishers sales and marketing departments and the gamedeveloper, which may be located hundreds of miles away. Large developers may also employ ExternalProducers; for example, if they are subcontracting projects to smaller developers.Most External Producers handle more than one project and work with more than one development studio.For this reason, the job can involve travel, and plans that change at short notice.Game development is a highly complex process often lasting two years or more, involving teams of up to100 people and budgets over £5 million. Helping to managing this is a big job, which involves a lot ofresponsibility, as well as the requirement to work long hours and deal with high levels of stress, particularlyduring the final stages of production.
ArtistsArtists create the visual elements of a game, such as characters, scenery, objects, vehicles, surfacetextures, clothing, props, and even user interface components.Artists also create concept art and storyboards which help communicate the proposed visual elements duringthe pre-production phase.Some games try to look as realistic as possible while others aim for a more stylised or fantastical look and it isthe Artists job to model and texture characters and objects to achieve the desired result. The look of thegame and its graphical detail is often a significant factor in a games success, second only to its playability.There are various specialisms within the art department, including 3D object modelling, characterdesign, textures, environments, and so on. Each has responsibility for the creation of particular art assetswith a game, but there is also a lot of movement between roles.Artists are employed by development studios, both independent and publisher-owned. As well as producinggraphics for the game itself they might create artwork for packages, promotional materials and websites.
Creative DirectorsThe Creative Director is the key person during the game development process, overseeing any high leveldecisions that affect how the game plays, looks or sounds.Creative Directors are employed by development studios, both publisher-owned and independent, but notall game companies employ Creative Directors. However, some companies prefer to continue to split theduties between a games lead artists, programmers, designers and producers.Where the position is used, each game development team has its own Creative Director, although someparticularly experienced and talented practitioners oversee multiple projects.As a highly paid and senior role, it involves a lot of responsibility, as well as the requirement to work longhours and deal with high levels of stress, particularly during the final stages of production.
Technical ArtistsThe Technical Artist acts as a bridge between the artists and programmers workingon a game. They ensure art assets can be easily integrated into a game withoutsacrificing either the overall artistic vision or exceeding the technical limits of thechosen platform.The role is a relatively new one for the games industry, but is becoming increasinglyimportant as consoles and PC hardware becomes more complex.Despite their technical knowledge, the Technical Artist works part of the artteam, and coordinates closely with the lead artists and the art director, as well asthe lead programmers.
QATsQuality Assurance Technicians, or Testers, perform a vitalrole, testing, tuning, debugging, and suggesting the detailed refinements that ensurethe quality and playability of the finished game.Their job involves play-testing the game in a systematic way, analysing the game’sperformance against the designer’s intentions, identifying problems and suggestingimprovements.They test for bugs in the software, from complete crashes to minor glitches in theprogramme. They also act as the game’s first audience, reporting on its playability, andidentifying any aspects which could be improved.Testers are employed by design studios and publishers. They might have to work longhours, under pressure, depending on the release schedule for a game, and at times thework can be hectic and stressful.
Lead ArtistsThe Lead Artist is responsible for the overall look of the game.Working with the Game Designer in the first instance, the Lead Artist devises the game’s visual style anddirects the production of all visual material throughout the game’s development.The Lead Artist produces much of the initial artwork themselves, setting creative and technical standardsand also determining the best tools and techniques to deploy.In conjunction with the producer, the Lead Artist puts together and manages the team of artists andanimators who produce the bulk of the art assets for the game (includingenvironments, characters, objects and effects) under the Lead Artist’s direction.The Lead Artist must ensure that the art and animation team works to schedule and within budget. Theyalso work closely with the programming team to make sure that all art and animation assets producedcan be easily imported into the game engine.Lead Artists are employed by development studios, both independent and publisher-owned. This is thehighest paid position in the art department, reflecting the skills and experience required.The computer games market is highly competitive and subject to seasonal peaks – the hours can be longand the work quite pressurised, particularly as launch dates approach
Assistant ProducersThe Assistant (or Junior) Producer works with a games production staff to ensure the timely delivery of thehighest quality project possible. Typically, they will focus on specific areas of the development process.This could involve handling the communications between the publisher and developer, or coordinatingwork on some of the projects key processes such as managing the outsourcing of art assets.Assistant Producers are employed by publishers as well as development studios. Working within adevelopment studio often involves managing communications between different teams such as design, artand programming.In a publisher environment, Assistant Producers will focus on liaising between sales and marketingdepartments and the developer, and supporting the work of the publishers external producer.Game development is a highly complex process sometimes lasting three years or more, involving teams ofup to 100 people and budgets over £5 million. Helping to managing this is a big job. Hence the work caninvolve long hours and might be stressful, particularly as a games launch approaches.
Project ManagersThe Project Manager is responsible for ensuring the successful delivery of a game, on time and withinbudget.They control the financial and other resources needed for a project and co-ordinate the work of theproduction team, making sure that the quality and vision of the game is maintained, whatever problemsmay arise.The Project Manager has to know the value of everybody’s contribution to a game and keep an overviewof the entire process from start to finish.This is an increasingly important role as production schedules lengthen and development costs increase.Game development is a highly complex process often lasting up to 2 years and requiring teams ofprogrammers, designers, artists, writers, musicians, and even actors.A typical development team might start off small but by the end of the project could involve 30 people ormore, and game projects increasingly require investment in excess of £2 million. Managing this is a big jobwhich carries considerable financial responsibility.Project Managers are employed by development studios and within publisher’s in-house developmentteams. The work can involve long hours and might be stressful, particularly as launch dates approach.
Level EditorsThe Level Editor defines and creates interactive architecture for a segment of a game, including thelandscape, buildings, and objects.They must be true to the overall design specification, using the characters and story elements defined by theGame Designer, but they often have considerable scope to vary the specific look and feel of the level forwhich they are responsible.The Level Editor also develops the game play for the level, which includes the challenges that the charactersface and the actions they must take to overcome them. The architecture helps to define those challenges bypresenting obstacles, places to hide, tests of skill, and other elements to explore and interact with.The setting and atmosphere devised by the Level Editor can also give the player clues as to different ways ofprogressing though the level and the game as a whole.Level Editors play an important role in game development, creating memorable environments and game playelements to satisfy an increasingly sophisticated and widening games audience.They need to be inventive, and understand the design factors which contribute to an entertaining andabsorbing game play experience.They should also keep up to date with advancing technologies. Level Editors are employed by developmentstudios, both publisher-owned and independent.
Product ManagersThe Product Managers role is to help create and implement marketing campaignsto maximise the sales of the games they are working on. Operating as a part of amarketing team, they support the senior marketing managers who organiseinternational or global campaigns.The Product Manager may also work with a Brand Manager, who is responsible fordeveloping long-term plans for individual game franchises and provides a strategicoverview of how a game brand should change over time.Product Managers typically work for game publishers or independent marketingcompanies who work with publishers. Only the largest game developers requireinternal Product Managers. The work can involve long hours and might bestressful, particularly as deadlines and launch dates approach.
Audio EngineerThe Audio Engineer creates the soundtrack for a game. This might include music; sound effects to supportthe game action, such as gunshots or explosions; character voices and other expressions; spokeninstructions; and ambient effects, such as crowd noise, vehicles or rain.The soundtrack helps to create a more immersive experience for the player by reinforcing the mood of thegame. It can also enhance game play by affecting the tempo and adding emotional depth.Audio Engineers work for development studios, both independent and publisher-owned. The size of theaudio department depends on the company, but can consist of just one or two people who are sometimesrequired to work very long hours, particularly as launch dates approach.Budgets and resources vary, but the role of Audio Engineer is becoming increasingly important as gameprojects grow in complexity, with some titles requiring full orchestral scores.Audio Engineers also work for specialist outsourcing companies and localisation services that re-versiongames for different territories.