If you have a passion for game design you are out of luck, because everyone thinks that he can do a better work than you.
The truth is that game design has no dignity. It’s FALSE that evaluating “game design” is harder than evaluating good art or a good programmer. And it shows. There are out there plenty of games that have terrible engineering or terrible art. There is the exact same amount of arbitrariety. If game design hasn’t a value on its own it’s because it has no DIGNITY. And the reason why many games suffer is because of that. You CANNOT be a game designer because you have studied and researched it, because you have dedicated all yourself to it.
While you CAN AND HAVE to study to become a good programmer, you aren’t allowed to do the same if your discipline is game design. Because “game design” is only a “prize title”, a BADGE you win as reward if you are good at doing something else. Even if you are incompetent in your new role.
You become a game desiger only because you “happen” to be one, as a “drift” from another position that may have nothing to share with game design. It’s like a lottery. Since game design has no dignity and concrete presence on its own, people are told that they must be good at CS, or good programmers, or good artists, or whatever. People finish to work as game designers even if they LACK that competence. Because training and study are considered superfluous for this discipline. Maybe those same people will become good designers, with the time.
It’s acquired, not prerequired for the role. You are allowed to study and learn game design only *after* you received that title. So we have good designer who became *good* desigers AFTER they have been promoted to that role. Because game design is considered a SUBPRODUCT of other disciplines and a “reward” if you did well something completely unrelated. Because there’s no real training. In the meantime games suck because many game designers are promoted from programming and bringing with them a wrong, convoluted mentality that is pretty obvious on many, many titles.
Game design is *its own* discipline, not the reward for a career achieved through other competencies.
So the problem is that there isn’t a culture of game design, and because there isn’t one that game design falls behind, is considered something that EVERYONE can do. Something trivial, something superfluous. Often a reward or prize that has nothing to share with the competence that is being rewarded in the first place. It’s the model and the attitude to be wrong. This is a commonplace that should be fought, because it’s damaging this industry.
And finally, why this website cannot work as a portfolio? It shows how my brain works, it shows the way I approach problems, it shows how I analyze, it shows my critics, what I think of the genre, my approach, my ideas. It shows the way I communicate to people, the way I look for a dialogue and a confrontation, the way I answer to critics and MORE. I don’t see as this has less value than someone showing a portfolio with some drawings or a DVD with 3D works in Maya or 3D studio. I CAN see out there who has good, solid ideas that are possible that I would like expressed in a game, I can see who doesn’t. In a similar way as I can, arbitrarily, say if someone can make good or bad art.
And if I can ALSO make a great mod for UT2004, HL2, NWN2 then I’m showing a different kind of competence that may be irrelevant for a MMO. And this without even recognizing that game design is a so broad concept that has many other different disciplines within. Each of those requiring its own competence and expertise. Each of those requiring study and specialization. The game designer who does world building doesn’t have the same competencies of the game designer who writes and scripts quests, or the game designer who designs the UI, or the game designer who writes the backstory, or the game designer who directs PvP, or the game designer who creates and balances classes, or the game designer who takes care of the economic systems.
What is missing isn’t the concrete material or the possibility to prove a competence. What is missing is the recognition of a discipline that just hasn’t been granted DIGNITY on its own.
The REAL wrong message is that you can “eventually” become a game designer even if you never studied or dedicated yourself to it.
Logic would say that if you want to do something and be good at it you have to study it. No, not for game design. Do something else. Studying game design is superfluous and competence an optional.
That’s the truth that no one will tell you in all those “breaking in” pages.