Video game design is one of the most fast-paced and creative industries on the market. Pushing the boundaries of art and technology, game design offers a unique blend of skill and innovation that makes the industry so exciting.

While game design is a highly-competitive field, there are opportunities for people who not only have a passion for gaming but a game plan to put their ideas into action. Here are a few practical steps you can take to get your foot in the door of this booming industry.

Build your skills before investing in your ideas

Like any competitive industry, it’s not your ideas but your skills that will set you apart. Having a design portfolio is great but having more technical skills like coding and animation is even better. According to Game Development with C# and Unity instructor David Antognoli, it is all about bringing useful technical skills to the table when pursuing a career in game design, whether it be in art or programming.

“No one gets hired to start out in the game industry as just an idea person. You have to pull your weight at creating the actual content that players experience. Good ideas are a dime a dozen, but the people who can execute those visions are incredibly valued and sought after,” said David.

Your future success begins by knowing your strengths, finding any skill gaps, and putting in the work to fill them.

Learn the basics of C# coding and Unity

There are plenty of programming languages out there, but C# is a great language to learn when getting started with programming. Originally designed by Microsoft, C# is intuitive and easier to learn than other more complex coding languages.

C# also supports the Unity Game engine, which is an industry-standard game development platform. Unity is the premiere software used for 2D, 3D, AR, VR, and MR games—and one that every game designer should be comfortable with. Because C# and Unity pair so well, we developed an 8-week online course that teaches you both. Game Development with C# and Unity teaches students how to code in C# from scratch and how to turn that code into your own first-person narrative video game in Unity. By the end of the course, you will have a complete game to add to (or start) your portfolio.

Creating a strong portfolio of functional, polished games and vertical slice prototypes is absolutely critical to getting a job in the game industry. You have to prove you can do the work by actually doing it and then showcasing it online.

Join a game design community

The best way to prepare yourself for a career in game design is to start talking to people who are already doing it. Whether through an online message board or local meetup group, finding your “people” in the industry is crucial if you want to stay on top of industry trends. A game design community also helps you connect with peers who could eventually become your coworkers.

Our Game Development with C# and Unity course was specifically designed with the importance of community in mind. Students get to share ideas on a weekly basis through the course discussion board. This gives you the chance to get feedback on your work, help other students improve their projects, and build a network along the way. You also get one-on-one feedback from your instructor to give your project a competitive edge.

Playtest and iterate

Testing out video games in their early stages lets you experience the process of user feedback firsthand. The best programmers and storytellers know that the most important factor in a game’s success is the player’s response. Even if a game is technically flawless, if a user doesn’t connect with it on an emotional level, then the game doesn’t stand a chance.

“A big part of usability is empathy and being able to put yourself in the player’s shoes. As game designers, we’ve played our games more than anyone; we know them inside and out and we have lots of practice with their challenges. We have to work hard to consider what the experience would be like for brand new players,” said David.

Observing others experience your work, even friends or classmates, will help you build your empathy muscles and learn how to prevent usability issues early on.

Find your niche

Wanting to create your own video games is one thing—knowing exactly the narrative elements, technical proficiencies, and platforms you want to learn and build for is a very different thing. Particularly with the rise in augmented and virtual reality and mobile games, there are even more opportunities to specialize your skills. Finding your creative niche and networking with others with more experience than you will not only give you more credibility in the industry but will create a clear career path for you to follow.

Ready to get started? Our 8-week online course, Game Development with C# and Unity, will help you put your ideas into action. The course can be taken individually or as part of our Augmented and Virtual Reality Professional Certificate. Click here to get started.

Read more: How to Network in a Creative Industry