A Day in the Life of a Game Designer

My job keeps me very busy sometimes. I started writing a post earlier this week (which will still be coming later) but events have kept me occupied most of the time over the last few days. A lot of people I talk to think working in the computer games industry involves playing games all day and typing in a few bits of code here and there. Sadly it doesn’t even though it is still an enjoyable job.

My work day starts very early in the morning. It’s very early for me at least because I am not much of a morning person. I find it very hard to wake up which is why I sometimes look like an extra from a George A Romero movie as I stumble blindly towards the shower. A lot of people tell me I should drink coffee in the morning but I am cursed with an un-natural disliking of the black liquid (but I will drink it in extreme cases). I usually wake up during my train journey to work (or run the risk of waking up in Den Haag). If the train does not do the trick the tram usually does. Nothing wakes you up like having a tourist’s armpit get intimate with your face.

The work day usually begins with the obligatory checking of e-mail and a quick bit of internet surfing before the start of meetings, lua scripting, more meetings, polygon pushing, even more meetings, error fixing and other nerdy things that I should probably not bore you with or risk breaking my non-discloser agreement with. Trust me; it’s a lot of complicated stuff.

Lunch time is usually spent dodging the clip board holders doing surveys or collecting for charity on the streets. I’m not an unsympathetic person but they are on the street outside our office every day and every day at least five of them try to stop me with in the twenty meter walk to the near by supermarket on the way there an on the way back. After awhile it’s enough to drive anyone a little crazy.

Sometimes a group of us go out to one of the local cafes or restaurants for lunch. This week we were treated to a rather strange sight as we ate at a Dim Sum restaurant. As we all fiddled with out chop sticks we heard screaming outside. The sound kept on going back and forth as if someone was running past the restaurant every few minutes. When we looked out the window we saw a man jumping out in front of the passing trams, running along in front of them and screaming. Eventually he would jump out of the way, wait for another tram to come from the other direction and do the same. For a while we thought he was mad until we spotted the camera crew. Judging by the bags he was carrying as he waved his arms about and screamed they must have been filming a commercial for Media Markt.

The second part of the work day is usually much the same. However, this week I got to shout into a microphone again as I barked military commands for use in the game. It is only going to be used for temporary dialog until we get some real voice actors but it is surprisingly fun and therapeutic to spend half an hour screaming in a sound proof booth (even if I lost my voice afterwards). I was happy that this time I managed to sound slightly less like a timid teenage commander going through puberty.

Most work days usually end like any other but at the end of the week comes Friday and every second Friday at the office is free beer night. The reason for this is a while ago the company had a small problem.

That problem was that employees would bring crates of beer into the office at the end of every Friday and all the rooms end up becoming a mess of empty beer bottles and full ash trays (plus there was the time we cellotaped one of the designers to his chair).

The solution to this problem that they chose was to buy lots and lots of beer every second Friday for the employees but only allow them to drink it in one room to contain the mess.

Everyone was happy with this and it just happens to be Friday night so I better rap this post up and get my free beer before it is all gone. Life working in the games industry might not be non-stop game playing all day but at least there is beer.

10 responses to “A Day in the Life of a Game Designer”

  1. Whitney says:

    A game designer seems to be every boy’s dream job, but I’m sure it isn’t quite as fun as it appears to be.

    My eleven-year-old brother has his mind set on someday doing your job. In fact, he is going to a graphics design camp next week and is currently watching a documentary about graphic design on the tv.

    The extent of my gaming knowledge is good old Ms. Pacman and Mario Kart, both of which I have deemed myself the unbeatable master….

  2. marycub says:

    Computing codes give me a headache. My uncle talks in them and instantly sends me to sleep. Remind me how you got from set design (it was that wasn’t it?) to game design??

  3. tenakalaz says:

    The extent of my gaming knowledge is good old Ms. Pacman and Mario Kart, both of which I have deemed myself the unbeatable master….

    Coz you haven’t met me :)

  4. Charlemagne Stavanger says:

    very nicely put. That was my dream job but I somehow I was sidetracked. Our day doesn’t seem that different menus the acting, sound part etc.

  5. RM says:

    I had no idea you wrote computer games…. Have you been involved in any games that have been released down under?

    And the pamphlet/survey people … arrgh. I lied to one last week. It was about carpooling and I value my alone time in the car too highly (even though I KNOW carpooling is a good idea). Does that mean I’m going straight to hell?

  6. Kala says:

    your blog is so kewl with all these cartoon characters – did u draw all of them – amazing – anyway, being a game programmer must be crazy fun and challenging – I do programming too but probably not as good as you =)

  7. Invader_Stu says:

    Whitney – It’s still a very fun job but it is not always what you expect.

    Tenakalaz – Time for a show down.

    Marycub – At the time I thought level design and set design would be very much the same. It turns out I was wrong but I was lucky and found some where that took me on and taught me how it is done.

    Charlemagne Stavanger – You should giving screaming to a microphone a try. It can be a lot of fun.

    RM – Telling you that might chip away a little bit at my secret identity but why not… I worked on KillZone for the PS2.

    You are not going to hell but the evil over load of serves will be a little upset about it.

  8. Bonestorm says:

    Yep, my dream job also. I may have to track you down, kidnap you and take over your life.

  9. Invader_Stu says:

    Thanks Kala :)I do draw all the cartoons

    Bonestorm – We can trade. You’re married right? :p

  10. mancrepubl says:

    Your job description made me laugh, it sounds just like the advertising industry too…

    keep up the good work

%d bloggers like this: