Advice to a New Student in Videogame Design*

Aug 31, 2013

Do more than is required. You’ll get out of it as much as you put in. This means learning more than you’re assigned, putting more into projects than is needed for an A, and making and releasing finished videogames aside from and outside of coursework.

Be ok with producing crummy results when new to something. Don’t let that discourage you from sticking with it. There’s a lot less competition in the world than people assume, due to attrition; most would-be competitors will have given up long before getting over the barriers to entry, even if held up only on their own lack of confidence. Don’t settle for staying so crummy at it though. Practice and seek feedback and strive to get your skills to a level that you’ll have something to bring to the table when joining a team.

Try to not get wrapped up in talking about games instead of working on them. Make regular progress, even if incremental, and stick to deadlines. Sometimes this kind of discipline means turning down social engagements on weekends, but don’t totally deny yourself time around people either, or that can bring its own problems. Find your way out of circular or unproductive banter about the “best” design or related fashion, these are traps. Different audiences have different preferences about different matters, it’s almost always just apples versus oranges. Argue about game design instead by implementing your ideas and letting others play them, at least as playable prototypes if not within completely finished games. All the opposing words in the world won’t matter much if what you’ve done just works.

Don’t compare yourself to other people. That can only lead to mediocrity or plateauing or hopelessness. Just do the best you can with things. If you need a reference point try to end the day or week or month better than you were when it started. Keep improving.

Network proactively. Go out of your way to be where people are that you want to meet, and go outside your comfort zone to… (continued in ebook)

*This entry is now in the Videogame Developer’s Strategy Guide, available through membership in Gamkedo Club.

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