According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the software programming field is projected to grow by 30 percent from 2008-18 as businesses continue to invest heavily in technology. Moreover, job opportunities will be above average for related positions. We sat down with Thomas Long, game designer and instructor at Rasmussen College to chat about game design educational and career paths; along with the launch of his video game, Hordes of Orcs 2.
How did you get into the field of game design?
I got into game design at a very early age and at a time when owning a personal computer was fairly rare. At this time, the Atari 2600 was at its peak, and even at the age of eight years old I knew, or at least thought, that I could make better games than the ones out at the time. As luck would have it, I soon was the proud owner of a Radio Shack TRS-80 Color II computer and it became a life quest to produce games professionally. From that day forward, nearly everything I’ve done has been in the pursuit of game and simulation technology.
What are you most excited about in the future of game design?
I’m most excited about games being used to improve the world. Games, in my opinion, are the most powerful media known to man. Games are going to be more and more part of everything we do, from our work to our health. Even now, games are being used in healthcare for improving the survival rate of children with cancer by allowing them to see their bodies attacking the cancer. In the future, multimedia design will be used more and more beyond leisure and into real-life practice.
What are your favorite games these days? Why?
Most of my favorite games are not the big name-produced games. The games the intrigue me the most are those produced by indie game designers that are not under the same constraints of the market as the for profit game design market. Not to say that there aren’t great games of non-indie games, it’s just that games not produced by large publishers have the freedom to explore new game mechanics and subject matter.
What are some great resources (online, books, etc.) for game design majors?
Join the International Game Developers Association and attend every meeting that you can. Go to every game conference that you can afford to attend including Game Developers Conference. Read Game Developer Magazine cover to cover. Find and participate in a “game jam.” Play board games, and create board games. All these are mind-expanding activities and great for the game design profession.
What are some of the skills that you teach your students at Rasmussen College?
One of the main themes I teach my students is understanding and using the lexicon of game design as MDA (mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics). Fully comprehending MDA is necessary for converting the game designer’s thought process from consumer to producer.
Tell us a little about the process of designing Hordes of Orcs 2, from start to finish?
I partnered with multiple designers to produce Hordes of Orcs 2. I helped create some of the art and special effects for the game. Games are very much a team effort.
Where is Hordes of Orcs 2 sold?
You can purchase Hordes of Orcs 2 at http://www.freeverse.com/mac/product/?id=9023.
Any other notes about your game, career paths of a game developer or the gaming industry?
The game design industry is full of talented and passionate people doing what they love to do. It’s a lot of hard work and long hours, but completely worth it.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2010-11 Edition, Software Publishers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs051.htm (visited October 10, 2010).