As the video game industry continues to grow, the demand for skilled game designers has never been higher. In the UK, the median salary for a game designer hovers around £35,000, while in the US, the median annual wage is approximately $90,000. However, landing a lucrative game designer role isn't easy. It requires both impressive creative skills and a convincing interview. That's where this article comes in.
🎮 Prepping for Your Game Design Interview
The game design interview is a unique blend of technical assessment, creativity evaluation, and cultural fit test. You'll likely face a mix of conventional job interview questions and specific queries about your game design experience and philosophy.
We've pulled together some specific tips for the game design interview that should help you shine when your big moment arrives.
Be Ready to Showcase Your Creativity
In game design, creativity is king. Be prepared to talk about how you've pushed boundaries, solved design challenges, and used creative thinking to improve player experiences. Use examples from your portfolio to demonstrate this.
Speak the Language
While creativity is vital, you should also demonstrate a sound understanding of game mechanics, systems design, player psychology, and other technical aspects of game design. Be prepared to use industry terminology accurately and confidently.
One of the best things you can do in your interview is demonstrate that you understand the player's perspective. Talk about how you've used player feedback to improve your designs, or how you design with player experience in mind.
🌟 Using the B-STAR Method to Structure Your Answers
When responding to interview questions, consider using the B-STAR method: Belief, Situation, Task, Action, Result. This format helps you tell a clear and engaging story about your experiences and achievements.
Express your thoughts and feelings about the topic at hand. This gives the interviewer insight into your design philosophy.
Briefly explain the scenario or context that you were in. This sets the stage for your actions and results.
Describe your role in the situation. This helps the interviewer understand your responsibilities.
Detail the steps you took, and why you took them. This shows your decision-making process and problem-solving skills.
Explain the outcomes of your actions. Where possible, quantify your results to give a clear picture of your success.
🚫 Game Design Interview Pitfalls to Avoid
Navigating an interview successfully also means being aware of what not to do. Here are some important don'ts to keep in mind.
Don't Neglect the Player
Remember, games are for players. Neglecting to mention the player's perspective or how your designs affect player experience could make you appear out of touch.
Don't Be Overly Technical
While it's crucial to demonstrate your technical knowledge, being too technical might make it seem like you lack creativity or people skills.
Don't Forget to Ask Questions
Remember, an interview is a two-way street. Having a few thoughtful questions to ask your interviewer can show your enthusiasm and interest in the role.
📚 Aiding Your Preparation: Our Recommended Guide
For a deeper dive into game designer interview preparation, we highly recommend the guide, "Interview Success: How to Answer Game Designer Questions (With Over 100 Sample Answers)". This comprehensive guide, penned by experienced career coach Mike Jacobsen and a seasoned game designer, is designed to help you conquer the most challenging interview scenarios. With over 100 sample answers, it's your secret weapon for nailing that game design interview. Click here to grab your copy today!
Now, let's dive into some of the most common game designer interview questions, their underlying intent, and the best strategies to formulate compelling responses...
Game Designer Interview Questions & Answers
Answering "How do you ensure the games you design are accessible to a wide range of players?" will demonstrate your understanding of and commitment to game accessibility. Discuss your approach to making games playable and enjoyable for as many people as possible, considering factors like difficulty levels, control options, and visual or auditory accommodations. This question is an opportunity to highlight your dedication to inclusive game design.
Creating accessible games is a commitment to allow as many people as possible to enjoy the experience we're crafting. It's not an afterthought but a fundamental aspect of my design philosophy. To answer your question, I'll share how I approach this at various stages of design and development and cite examples from my past projects to illustrate these methods.
My journey towards accessibility in game design begins from the conceptualization phase. At this stage, I ensure that the fundamental mechanics of the game are broad enough to appeal to a wide range of players. This involves conducting market research, understanding our target demographic, their abilities, preferences, and any potential barriers they might face when interacting with our game.
Once the concept is laid out, we move into the design phase, where considerations for accessibility become more nuanced. We pay special attention to elements such as color palettes, text size, and contrasts, as these can significantly affect players with visual impairments. For example, during my time with "Studio Z", we worked on an RPG. We implemented a high-contrast mode, making it easier for players with low vision to distinguish between different elements on screen.
In addition to visual considerations, I also ensure our games cater to players with auditory impairments. This often involves providing closed captions for dialogues and cues for important audio signals within the game. While developing a stealth-action title at "Studio X", we introduced visual indicators that could inform players of enemy proximity and direction even when the game was played on mute.
Another significant aspect I prioritize is control customization. All players are unique, and so are their preferred methods of interaction. Some may prefer a mouse and keyboard, while others might be more comfortable with a gamepad. Furthermore, some players may need custom configurations due to motor disabilities. I always push for extensive control remapping options in our games to accommodate such needs. This was particularly impactful in a racing game we developed, where allowing players to fully remap their controls led to positive feedback from our community.
Finally, difficulty scaling and assistive modes are essential tools in our pursuit of accessibility. These enable players of varied skill levels and abilities to engage with our game and progress at their own pace. In a puzzle game I worked on, we implemented an assist mode that provided hints and allowed players to skip puzzles after a certain number of unsuccessful attempts. This feature ensured that all players could enjoy the narrative, even if they found certain puzzles challenging.
However, designing for accessibility doesn't stop at launch. It's an ongoing process that involves gathering player feedback, studying how they interact with our game, and making continuous updates to improve accessibility. This commitment to post-launch support has often been appreciated by our player base and is something I consider integral to my role as a game designer.
So, in summary, ensuring accessibility in my games involves a blend of empathetic design thinking, technical solutions, community engagement, and a commitment to continuous improvement. It's a challenging but rewarding endeavor that has enriched my approach to game design and made me a better designer.
The question "Describe how you handled a tight deadline for a project" seeks to understand your time management skills and how you perform under pressure. Your response should describe a situation where you had to deliver within a tight timeline, the strategies you used to manage the workload, and the result. This is a chance to demonstrate your ability to stay focused, organized, and productive even when facing challenges.
As a game designer, I fully understand that the nature of our work often entails operating within tight deadlines. It's crucial to remain flexible, organized, and maintain clear communication with your team to navigate these scenarios effectively. Allow me to illustrate this with an example from a recent project.
At my previous company, we were working on an ambitious mobile RPG game. We had been developing it for over a year, and everything was going according to plan until a sudden shift in the market dynamics. A competitor had just announced a similar game, planning to release it a couple of months before our scheduled launch.
We faced a difficult decision: push our release forward by several weeks to avoid being eclipsed by the competitor, or stick with our original timeline, potentially losing a share of our target audience. After discussing it as a team and with our stakeholders, we decided to go for the former option.
It meant meeting a significantly tighter deadline, which was challenging given the scope of the project. But this is where strategic planning, clear communication, and efficient teamwork came into play.
First, we held a series of meetings to assess the work remaining and prioritize the essential tasks. Using agile methodology, we broke down the workload into smaller, manageable tasks, reorganized our sprints, and reallocated resources to ensure efficiency.
As the lead designer, I worked closely with our project manager to keep track of the project's progress. We had daily stand-ups to monitor the status of each task, identify any potential blockers early, and keep the team aligned on the project's goals and the updated timeline.
To ensure high productivity, we focused on maintaining a positive work environment. I believe that stress and burnout are counterproductive, especially in such high-pressure situations. We ensured everyone was taking regular breaks, and the team leads were always available for one-on-ones, to listen to any concerns or provide support when needed.
Additionally, we enhanced our communication with other departments, like the QA team, to fast-track the feedback loop and quickly iterate on our designs. We also maintained transparency with our stakeholders, providing regular updates about our progress and any challenges we were facing.
In the end, we managed to launch our game two weeks earlier than initially planned, thanks to the hard work, resilience, and dedication of our team. Not only were we able to retain our market share, but the game also received highly positive reviews, largely for its polished design and minimal bugs, which was indeed a testament to our rigorous development process under pressure.
Looking back, this experience was a valuable lesson in effective time management, team collaboration, and decision-making under pressure. It demonstrated the importance of staying adaptable and maintaining a clear focus on the end goal, no matter how challenging the path might seem.
The question "How have you incorporated diversity and inclusion in your game design?" shows your awareness of the importance of representation in games. When you respond, discuss examples of how you've incorporated diverse characters, narratives, or cultural elements in your designs. This is an opportunity to show your commitment to creating games that respect and reflect the diverse audience that plays them.
Incorporating diversity and inclusion in game design is both a responsibility and an opportunity. As game designers, we have the power to create virtual worlds that can challenge existing stereotypes, introduce players to new perspectives, and make every player feel seen and valued.
One of the primary ways I've implemented diversity and inclusion is through character design. In a recent role-playing game project, I advocated for a wide range of customizable avatar options, allowing players to create characters that truly represent them in terms of gender, race, body type, and even disabilities. The development team had to learn about various cultures and identities to ensure that these elements were portrayed accurately and respectfully, which was a rewarding experience for all of us.
On another project, a narrative-focused adventure game, we incorporated diverse storylines and backgrounds for our characters. This not only included racial and ethnic diversity but also a broad spectrum of experiences and worldviews. We collaborated with cultural consultants to ensure our portrayal was authentic and respectful. I remember a touching message we received from a player who was moved by one of our characters whose experiences resonated with them, stating that they had never seen their culture represented in a game before. Moments like these make all the effort worth it.
Moreover, I believe in fostering diversity within the team as well. Having diverse voices in the room can significantly enhance the breadth of ideas and helps to check our blind spots. In my current role, I have been actively involved in initiatives to improve diversity within our team, such as mentoring programs and outreach to underrepresented groups.
However, I understand that incorporating diversity and inclusion is not a one-time effort. It's a continual learning process, and it's important to be open to feedback and willing to make changes when we get things wrong. For instance, we once received criticism for a cultural reference in one of our games that was deemed inappropriate. We promptly addressed the issue, removed the reference, and issued an apology. It was a learning experience that reinforced the need for continuous education and mindfulness when it comes to representation.
Overall, my aim is to create games that are not only inclusive and respectful but also contribute positively towards a broader understanding and acceptance among players. It's an ongoing journey, and I'm committed to learning and growing every step of the way.