A first rate video game is nothing if the levels within are not perfectly envisioned, a fun segue into the next story segment for the gamer. As a video game job, the role of level designer is key to that fun factor. Amazing game concepts with amazing characters have been ruined by repetitive, uninteresting levels. If you’re interested in programming but find yourself wanting to be directly involved in the visual creation of a game, the job of level designer might be a perfect fit for you.
The level designer is foremost responsible for creating game scenarios. Often these might be scripted by the Game Designer, already outlined or even drawn up by the Game Artist, but it’s the level designer who ultimately decides how a game will operate in a given scenario. How many enemies will there be? Will new enemies arrive? Will there be any puzzles? How many rooms will that mansion have?
The details entrusted to the level designer are key to any video game. The level designer’s job in the video game industry becomes one of direct interaction, taking everything created by the programmers, artists, and designers and putting it together to be played by the consumer, the gamer.
Most often, as a level designer, you will only be responsible for a single level, working on it from conception to completion, usually with a small team of other designers. As the industry specializes further, creating new jobs in the video game industry, the role has become more specific, generally only involving the direct design of a level. However, it is recommended and entirely likely that you’ll want to have game design and artistic talents.
This means that you need to be a creative minded person to really excel in this job. Game design relies on the creativity of its designers and as a level designer, you’ll often be called upon to make decisions or offer suggestions about characters and design decisions as they pertain to a certain level. If a character needs a special suit or weapon for a challenge you’ve created, a major design decision must be made, and you will want to the skills and ability to properly develop your ideas.
Regardless of how much you might be responsible for though, level design is one of those video game jobs that you will find immensely rewarding. It offers the chance to operate on game specific software, directly with all of the aspects of the game’s design to create a specific experience for the gamer. You are the direct link between game and gamer.
The video game industry is full of great opportunities for anyone with a keen eye, sharp wit, or amazing artistic talent. The job of level designer is only one of a few that will challenge any such individual and offer the chance to get involved in the video game industry.
If you have bigger aspirations you might find yourself as a game designer, or if you’re more artistic, a game artist. The field is wide open, whatever your strengths may be.