The enigma of a designer’s portfolio.

When in academics, one of the things that gets crammed down your throat on an almost daily basis is “focus on what you are good at for your portfolio”. Well, the problem is that out of all of the different job possibilities in the field (modeler, concept artist, texture artists, sound designer, etc), the area that I feel is my strongest is also the one that there is about a 0.001% of getting a starting job in: Game Design. Now obviously, the title of “Game Designer” is as varied as that of “Lawyer”. There are many different specific types of game designer, from content design, system design and level design, that could be qualified with the all inclusive game design title.

The big problem with even attempting to enter the industry in this position is what do you show potential employers? “Hey, look at this awesome spreadsheet I built to simulate a combat system for an RTS” “Well, you should really check out the 200 page design document I wrote on the leveling system for an RPG” These things don’t work well in a design portfolio. What are we to do?

Brenda Brathwaite, a professor and industry veteran, has posted a great topic about this on her blog, which can be read here. If you don’t know who Brenda is, she’s one of the leading design professors at our school (SCAD). I’ve been studying (read that as annoying the bejesus out of) under her for about two years now, and I feel that through this I have increased my chances of getting a job to a whopping 0.01%. Take that probability!

I’ve also been telling Brenda that she needs to give a lecture for the school entitled “The Top 100 Questions that all students ask guests”. Number one on that list,: “I’m a(n) <enter job desired here>. What should I do?” This is probably the number one question I hear undergraduates ask people from the industry, and the answer is always the same. “Build a portfolio”. Hrm…looks like I’m back to my original enigma…


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