A game designer is the facilitator of the act of game design among a team. Everyone in a team participates actively to the design of the game. From the producer to the junior QA, everyone is making the effort of delivering a great experience to the Players. Which is to design a videogame.
A friend of mine made me this question today: what if you make a game alone? Are you still a game designer?
I answered him: no, you are not a game designer. In that case you are an author, which is different.
He insisted: but you are designing a game, right?
Yes you are. Making a game alone is game design, too. In that case, all the work is on you. You are not facilitating the act of game design among a team.
To be a professional game designer ready to work for companies you need a completely different set of skills. You should be able to:
- Understand the business goals translating concepts like scope, budget, KPIs to the gameplay
- Being able to inspire your team analyzing and breaking down other games and by preparing specific proposals
- Create and maintain well written documentation so that the vision will be the less ambiguous as possible
- Run playtests and undestand the pain points of your game. Being able to translate that insight to all stakeholders.
- Be present in a lot of meetings often facilitating creative workshops.
All of those things are different when you are making a game alone. Which is why I differentiate a game designer from an author. An author is a game designer, but can be a bad teammate. A game designer is a facilitator, but can have not the right talent to make a game alone.
If you want to work for a company as a generalist game designer prove your ability to work in a team. You will unlock a lot more possibilities!