What is the Difference Between a Game Designer and Game Developer?
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What is the Difference Between a Game Designer and Game Developer?


Hey gamers! Have you looked at the credits at the end of a game? They’re often as lengthy as those of a feature film – maybe even longer. Amongst the veritable armies of people building these immersive experiences are game designers and game developers.

But a common question that people ask us is about the difference between the two profiles? Aren’t the two very similar? Aren’t they intertwined? What’s the difference? What are the prerequisites to become either? What is the scope for either careers? Here’s putting all your queries and doubts to rest.

Game Designer and Game Developer – Know the Difference

Simply put, game designers are the creative minds behind the entire process – the ones who visualize it right from the start to finish – while game developers are the magicians who make it happen, spending hours making sure the coding is spot on.

Game Designers and Game Developers work closely together right from the conception of the game to its final output. On rare occasions, there may even be an overlap within the roles. For this very reason, at Seamedu, we make sure that our students undertaking a Degree in Game Design learn the essential elements of game development and vice-versa.

Let’s take a look at the two roles in detail.

GAME DESIGN – Concept, Process and Role

Game designers visualise how a particular game will flow along with the gameplay itself. They decide the structure of the game and the rules (for example, you cannot move on to the next part of the game’s story until you have met with the soothsayer).

A team of game designers – led by the Lead Designer – starts by conceptualizing a game and creating an initial framework, with a storyboard and sketches. This sets the foundation for the game with other elements to be built on.

Game designers are then divided into smaller groups with each group concentrating on designing a particular aspect of the game.

Career Options after a Bachelor’s Degree in Game Design

UI Designers: A User Interface Designer is in charge of designing each screen or page with which a user interacts. A game UI designer looks at all the elements a user will interact with i.e. keyboard control, mouse control and interfaces (inventory screen, map screen). Good or bad UI design can make or break a game.

Level Designer: A level designer designs levels, missions or stages of a game. This is both an artistic and a technical role. They use concept art, sketches, renderings, and physical models to design these. A great level designer normally has a great chance to move to a position like lead game designer in due course.

GAME DEVELOPMENT – Concept, Process and Role

A game cannot come to fruition without a team of game developers. The Game Developer’s role is to turn the concept of a game into something playable from the initial framework and concepts envisioned by the game designers. They are the technical geniuses who integrate artwork and sound, create the artificial intelligence for non-player characters, use programming languages like Java and C++ and write thousands of lines of code to bring the magic to your screen.

Game Developers are also in charge of mapping the terrain of a game, connecting player input to gameplay, graphics programming and a whole lot more. Game developers are actively involved during the conceptualisation of a game as well.

Career Options after a Bachelor’s Degree in Game Development

AI Programmer: An AI programmer or Artificial Intelligence programmer does exactly that – gives the game a brain! He or she writes the code that gives each character not controlled by a player a system of action and reaction depending on the gameplay and the players’ decisions.

Java Programmer: Java programmers manage Java/Java EE application development while providing expertise in the full software development lifecycle, from concept and design to testing. They support continuous improvement by investigating technologies to ensure that applications that are built are cutting edge in design.

The Serious Side of Gaming

There are plenty of things you need to learn to be successful in the field, apart from how to design or code games. The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) has specific recommendations for schools and colleges teaching courses in Game Development and Design.

Some of them are:

  • Critical Game Studies: This involves analysing games to understand what makes a game successful.
  • Games and Society: This is where aspiring game makers learn about games from a social and psychological angle or how they reflect societies, cultures and individual perspectives.
  • Interactive Storytelling: This is a vital skill where students learn to write scripts for games and learn to blend different forms of media into an interactive environment.
  • Game Production: This goes over the game making process from start to finish, from budgeting to testing the final product.
  • Business of Gaming: It’s not enough in today’s fiercely competitive market to know how to build a game, you need to learn how to market and distribute it as well!

Working in the Indian Gaming Industry

The Indian gaming industry is an industry valued at $360 million as of 2017, according to a report published by KPMG and Google, and is expected to reach a landmark $1 billion mark by 2021. That’s massive! The number of game development companies increased from 25 in 2010 to over 250 companies focusing on India today.

The big players from across the world like EA Games and Ubisoft have been in India for years as well. Many Indian Game Designers and Game Developers at the top of their game have moved to company headquarters abroad, really climbing the career ladders.

Seamedu offers comprehensive programs in Game Design and Game Development as degree courses offering placements for eligible students with some of the top gaming studios in India. Get in touch with us to know more!

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