Recently Foster and I were discussing what skills need to be practiced in order to be a game designer. Here’s what we came up with. It’s not comprehensive or broken down into the smallest parts, but it’s a start.

  1. Communication skills. Being able to communicate an idea clearly is a majority of the work of a game designer.
  2. Creative skills. This is a constantly changing and vastly complicated category of skills, but basically the ability to generate lots of rough initial ideas and the ability to carry those skills through to a final version.
  3. Prototyping skills. Being able to build out ideas and mechanics is essential to be able to test them and clearly communicate them to other people. So at least a basic level of technical skill in some sort of prototyping tool is helpful.
  4. Theoretical skills. A knowledge of game theory and game history and the ability to apply that knowledge to creating new combinations of rules and mechanics.
  5. Psychological skills. Patience, concentration and endurance.

I think these are translatable to other types of design as well.

Kevin McGillivray is a teacher and web developer from Wisconsin. He writes about creativity, mindfulness, code, and tea. He tweets and tumbles.

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