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Life as a senior technical designer in the gaming industry

Article written by Andy Turton, Director of X4 Technology.

The role of a technical designer is varied and complex. As part of a production design or multidisciplinary team, the designer will create and implement complex technical and/or system design elements into the game.

They are continuously thinking about the project, the development of the tools that will be used by the team and any elements that will need settings. They are an impactful member of any production team, and have been described as “the missing link between game designers and programmers”.

The average salary for a technical designer in the UK is £38,000 per year, going up to £80,000+ as you become more senior. A lot of gaming companies are looking to hire individuals with a Computer Science or Game Design degree, however other relevant experience is also taken into consideration such as a previous technical design role, ideally one of which AAA.

I spoke to a senior technical designer based in Guildford, to hear their career journey and what advice they would give to someone looking to break into the gaming industry.

Check out the interview below.

What do you like most about being a technical designer in the gaming industry?

It is a very varied and exciting job, with a lot of responsibilities. You’re working with and designing all the core systems, every day is different and you have to stay on top of all the changes to ensure it all fits together.

What do you think is currently one of the biggest challenges working in gaming?

It’s a pretty stressful working environment and it’s very hard to switch off.  My mind is always thinking about the project and about issues/bugs or exploitation methods. The players are far smarter than us and some are very dedicated to finding every bonus possible. That said, many companies are addressing this issue and have some great support structures in place.

What do you look for when joining a gaming studio?

The first thing I look at is the type of game they’re working on. I find I do my best work when I’m engaged and am excited to finally play the game on launch. Secondly the team and structure, I like having a flatter structure so more voices are heard. No one person ever has the right answer.

What advice would you give to a professional considering working in the gaming industry?

It is not an easy industry, out of the 100 people who started my university course, 3 got into the industry, and those are not good odds. It’s often long hours, but if you find a great team then you all come together and help each other out.

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