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Apr 17, 2024

What does a game designer do? I met one— here’s how it went

While in Milan, there are so many types of designers that you can meet every day. Although interior, product, and even graphic designers are a common breed in the city, you may also come across some lesser-known careers. One such elusive profession is that of a game designer. It’s difficult to meet them due to their long working hours and their free time being spent on Discord or playing new games that have just been released. It is indeed quite rare to see them around.

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet and talk to a game designer working in the city and found out the secret life of working in the field.

To grab his attention, I had to recall the very little knowledge I had about gaming, streaming, and that puzzling world. The first thing I brought up that perked his ears was the last game I had played - Omori, a creepy indie game that isn’t as popular as, say, Fortnite. However, he was interested to hear how I got to play the game in the first place. After that initial conversation, I was in.

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Un post condiviso da OMORI (@omori_game)

The thing about game designers is that they are crazy and passionate about what they do. They are constantly immersed in their world. When they’re not designing, they’re playing the newest game. When they’re not playing, they’re talking to other gamers and designers on Discord. Gaming is not just a job for them; it’s a way of life.


One, No One, and One Hundred Thousand Game Designers

Upon asking what it’s like to work as a game designer, I received a surprising answer. Just like there are various types of graphic designers, there are also several kinds of game designers. 

Some game designers focus on coding, some on storyboarding and character building, and others focus on the 3D aspect of an entire game. The designer I met specialises in the latter. He uses Blender and other 3D programs like Unreal Engine to create characters for video games. Even when he isn’t making these characters, he keeps experimenting to see what new things he can develop inside of Blender and Houdini. The key to his success is to always play around with these programs.


Plot Twist: Gaming’s More Than Just Battle Royales

Are games all about competing against strangers online and winning matches? No way. 

I was already aware of the variety that gaming had to offer, having played a few PC games like Omori and Stardew Valley. However, I used to think that these were exceptions and that the main trends in gaming were all about first-person shooters like COD-Call of Duty, or, more recently, battle royale games full of purchasable cosmetics, battle passed and microtransactions like Fortnite or Apex Legends. As I grew up, I realised there is so much more in the world of gaming. 

Although shooters can have a significant fun factor, which is especially seen with Fortnite’s popularity, numerous other games focus on telling a meaningful story while being equally entertaining. One such example is Undertale, a game developed by American video game developer Toby Fox; it is just as much about having fun fighting monsters as it is about bringing characters to life through an interactive story. Another game that prioritises the storytelling element is The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, developed by gaming industry giant Nintendo, as it builds an entire world around its story and allows players to explore at their own pace.

The true beauty of the games lies in the diversity of experiences that they offer to players. Ultimately, depending on your preferences, you choose to embark on a linear and film-like adventure, such as The Last of Us, to delve into a game that gives you complete control over the story and world-building, where your imagination and creativity will determine the outcome, as in Minecraft or Mount & Blade. 

Some games can be ebem categorised as a sort of ‘in between’, as they feature a story and a world but allow the player to interpret it in their own way. A prime example of this type of game is the franchise from Japanese developer FromSoftware, which includes Dark Souls and Armored Core, setting the standard for minimalist and environmental storytelling in games.

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Un post condiviso da Dark Souls (@darksoulsgame)

Long story short, storytelling is just as important in this field as in any other.


Game Designers are Literally Everywhere in the Metaverse and IRL Businesses

Is this life limited to just game design? Absolutely not. Game design, and in particular its 3D elements, are starting to be utilised in hundreds of fields. 

A lot of game designers are starting to get called into other industries to implement what they know in unexpected ways.

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Un post condiviso da MONOGRID (@monogrid)

Of course, the Metaverse is the first field that comes to mind—which is still underway and being built. 

But even in real life, game designers are finding more work opportunities through interactive events, parties, and communication strategies. The more we venture into new technologies, the more the fields of design blend, and this rings incredibly true for 3D and game designers.

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Un post condiviso da JACQUEMUS (@jacquemus)

In the end, after meeting this elusive game designer by chance, I learned a lot more about a field that remains a mystery to most people. Now, I host game nights with this game designer, where we play indie games that are constantly coming out and are on the rise. Additionally, I have downloaded Discord, where I’m now meeting huge communities of people who share a passion for making and playing amazing games.

There is so much to learn from fields like this, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the world of gaming.



Constanza Coscia
Editor and alumna, Milan