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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A game designer is a person who designs gameplay, conceiving and designing the rules and structures of a game.[1] It is essentially the game equivalent to a screenwriter. The term applies to the designer of any game, whether a video game or tabletop games such as board games or card games.[1] The alternative term "games inventor" is sometimes used, especially in the context of traditional games.



It is not known when the earliest board game was made: Senet has been found in tombs from 3500 BC. The oldest playing cards were found in China and may date from the 9th century AD. Dice may have been invented in the third millennium BC in India.

The first video games were designed in the 1960s and 1970s by programmers for whom creating games was a hobby, since there was no way to sell them or earn money from creating games (the games required large mainframe computers to play). Some were made by electrical engineers as exhibits for visitors to computer labs (OXO, Tennis for Two), others by college students who wrote games for their friends to play (Spacewar!, Star Trek, Dungeon).

Some of the games designed during this era, such as Zork, Baseball, Air Warrior and Adventure later made the transition with their game designers into the early video game industry.

Early in the history of video games, game designers were often the lead programmer or the only programmer for a game, and this remained true as the video game industry expanded in the 1970s. This person also sometimes comprised the entire art team. This is the case of such noted designers as Sid Meier, John Romero, Chris Sawyer and Will Wright. A notable exception to this policy was Coleco, which from its very start separated the function of design and programming.

As games became more complex and computers and consoles became more powerful (allowing more features), the job of the game designer became a separate job function, with the lead programmer splitting his time between the two functions, moving from one role to the other. Later, game complexity escalated to the point where it required someone who concentrated solely on game design. Many early veterans chose the game design path eschewing programming and delegating those tasks to others.

Today, it is rare to find a video or computer game where the principal programmer is also the principal designer, except in the case of casual games, such as Tetris or Bejeweled. With very complex games, such as MMORPGs, or a big budget action or sports title, designers may number in the dozens. In these cases, there are generally one or two principal designers and many junior designers who specify subsets or subsystems of the game. In larger companies like Electronic Arts, each aspect of the game (control, level design or vehicles) may have a separate producer, lead designer and several general designers.


A game designer with less than 3 years of experience makes an average of about $46,000 a year. A game designer with between 3–6 years of experience earns an average of $55,600 annually. Designers with more than 6 years of experience make, on average, about $70,000 a year.[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b Salen, Katie; Zimmerman, Eric (2003), Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, MIT Press, p. 1, ISBN 0-262-24045-9 
  2. ^ 2008 Game Developer Salary Survey Reveals $79,000 Average Income from

External links



Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!

A Game designer is a person who often makes the plot, characters, and storyline of a game. Rather than being solely in charge of art direction, programming or any other category, they have a more holistic responsibility. When Game Designers take on a project, every aspect of the game is often their own idea.

Notable Designers

This article uses material from the "Game designer" article on the Gaming wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Simple English

A game designer is someone who designs games. The term "game designer" usually refers to someone who designs computer or video games, but can also be a person who designs older games like a board game.

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