Also known as: Lead level designer
Level designers understand what makes good gameplay. They design the game – but only a portion of it, normally referred to as a ‘level’. They take the specification defined by the gameplay designer, and get into the detail - the actions, events, objects and environment. They also design the characters and the ways they behave.
The level designer first sketches ideas on paper or using 2D drawing software. They imagine the playing experience, putting themselves in the position of the player, mapping out all the possibilities. They need to think about the logic and flow of events and actions, the conditions that need to be met for certain things to happen and the challenges the player will encounter.
These are the some of the tools used by professional level designers, but you can develop your skills using free software. Go to build your games portfolio for a list.
At school or college:
This is a role where both art and science are useful.
If you want to go to university, take A-levels, Highers, Level 3 BTECs or UALs in a combination of arts and sciences from the following subjects:
If you want to go straight into a job or apprenticeship, the following Level 3 qualifications will be relevant:
Play lots of different games. Think about how the levels and the design of them.
Build a portfolio:
Create work that you can show off to employers. This is essential. Go to build your games portfolio to learn how.
Create levels of a game using software provided by the publishers.
Look for an apprenticeship:
At the moment, there aren’t any apprenticeships for level designers specifically. However, it might be possible to find an apprenticeship as a 2D artist and move into games design from there. Go to how to become an apprentice to learn how to find apprenticeships in your region or approach companies directly.
Get a degree:
Most people in the games industry have a degree. Get one in games art, graphic design or any 3D digital art. Have a look at ScreenSkills’ list of recommended courses in games. We recognise courses with our ScreenSkills Select award where they offer training in the relevant software, dedicated time to building a portfolio and have strong links with the games industry.
Get to know people in the games industry by attending events, including games conferences and expos. Meet professionals and ask them questions about their work, while demonstrating interest and knowledge in the industry. Offer to provide them with your professional contact details and try to stay in touch with them. Go to how to network well to learn how to do this.
Search for jobs:
Use the UK Games Map to find out if there are games companies near you, then go to their websites directly and check out their open roles. Even if they are not advertising the right role, if you like a specific company it’s worth emailing them to let them know you are looking in case something suitable comes up in future. Some employers will take on a junior level designer if they have a strong portfolio, showing creativity, flair and software skills.
Being a lead games designer, 3D modelling artist or an environment artist in the games industry. You might also be interested in being a production designer in the film and TV drama industries, a look development artist, modelling artist or an environment artist in visual effects (VFX), or an art director, modeller or background designer in the animation industry.
Covers genres ranging from period dramas to epic fantasies screened at the cinema, on TV or on streaming sites
Involves making sequences on a computer that can't be created on set, like enormous crowds and fire-breathing dragons
Creates the illusion of movement, includes computer-generated, stop-motion and hand-drawn animation