David Canela, senior game designer at Tequila Works, sits in the hot seat to explain how he became a game designer
What is your job role?
I’m senior game designer. I design different systems and mechanics for the Tequila Works titles and it’s also my responsibility to coordinate with the code, art and level design departments to implement them properly in the game.
What qualifications and/or experience do you need?
Even though there are lots of game design courses and degrees available these days and that can be a good thing to have on your CV, I don’t think it’s mandatory for becoming a game designer. The most important experience you can have is creating your own game, even if it is a small one. As a game designer, it is important to have at least some knowledge about video games programming and art, as you will be working closely with those areas.
It's better to have a designer with communication skills than a genius that can’t communicate
How would someone come to be in your position?
To become a game designer, start by designing your own games. It doesn’t need to be a big game, but at least a finished one. Prototyping some game mechanics is also a good idea. But you don’t need to restrict yourself to video games; board games can also be a good experience and more achievable without technical knowledge. Create a small portfolio that you can show in the interviews and then explain the challenges you met and how you overcame them.
If you were interviewing someone, what do you look for?
I look for two main characteristics: The potential to become a good game designer and the ability to work in a team. For the former, being able to solve problems with limited resources and intelligent solutions is a must, as is being able to describe and dissect how a system works. For the latter, I would look for someone with good communication skills. It’s better to have a designer with potential and good teamwork skills than a genius that can’t communicate with anyone.
What opportunities are there for career progression?
At first, you will start as a junior game designer. With experience, you will progress to become a game designer and then senior game designer. The difference in these positions is the amount of responsibility and freedom you get. The next step is to be a lead game designer. It’s worth mentioning that this is a management position, and the skills required are different.
Why choose to follow a career in your field?
If you love video games and want to contribute to this industry, being a game designer is one of the most gratifying jobs you can get. It requires different skills than being a programmer or an artist, but you get a good perspective of both disciplines.