The Role: Generate ideas and refine them into playable game experiences, for [a] given target audience(s).

Pros

  • Creative. Game design is, at its core, finding a way to give a great experience to the player.  Because there are so many different possible experiences in person-to-person and person-t0-game interaction, the sky is the limit (or maybe not even that!)
  • Problem Solving.
  • Hands-on.
  • Visible, positive impact on audience. When people have fun with a game I helped create, I am very happy.
  • Fun to do. Similarly, the day-to-day work involved in game design is both interesting (see: problem solving) and fun (see: hands-on).
  • Collaborative.

Cons

  • Everyone’s a critic. Although game design is a combination of science and art, unlike some more technical positions like web development, usually everyone (even non-designers) have opinions and will voice them [sometimes angrily!]  This can be frustrating.
  • Not grand scope. Unlike research into new and practical science, giving people fun game experiences won’t usually change the world.  It can certainly make the world a better place, but not the grand extent of change I can imagine myself being part of.
  • Not for it’s own sake. Being a game designer means not just making good games – it means making successful games.  Being judged by whether a product (e.g. a game that people buy) is monetarily successful is not really something I enjoy – tolerate, yes, but we’re talking about ideal career path here!
  • Lots of meetings.  Unlike writing code or doing work in a lab (although to some extent, those tasks are also collaborative), there’s a lot of game design that can only be done in collaboration with others.  If some of those others involved in the process are frustrating to work with, tough cookies.  Note that collaboration is both a pro and a con here!  Wacky!