New Year, New Job 2015: Goodgame’s Alex Felton offers bite-sized tips on what it takes to be a game balancer

Get That Job: How to be a game balancer

What is your job role?
I work as a game balancer at Goodgame Studios, a leading free-to-play games developer and publisher based in Hamburg, Germany. Game balancing is a specialised part of game design, focusing on the systems and mechanics within a game that a player may not be aware of but interacts with continuously.

I work closely with both game designers and product management to create new features and systems. My main tasks are to design the difficulty, progression, rewards and monetisation of a feature.

How would someone obtain your role?
A strong interest in game mechanics and systems is key to becoming a good game balancer. On top of that, it helps to be curious about deconstructing the rules and systems of all types of games, not only digital ones.

This will allow you to understand the benefits of the mechanics and how they fit together to form the play space. Building on that, you will be able to design your own mechanics and anticipate how they will come together in your own games.

A large portion of balancing also revolves around maths, so it is critical that you are comfortable working with numbers in this role.

What qualifications and/or experience do you need?
There is no set path to become a game balancer. At Goodgame Studios, all our balancers come from different backgrounds such as mathematics, physics, psychology, programming along with game design, which is what I personally studied. Generally speaking, you should be familiar with the games development process. A good way to gain this familiarity is to create your own game concepts, ideally pursuing them to a testable state.

Paper prototyping and creating board games are cheap and fast ways to test concepts, without requiring any coding knowledge. A key asset to fulfilling this role is to have a good understanding of player behaviour. Having this knowledge can aid you to design challenges and rewards that cater to a variety of player types, ensuring the game is an enjoyable and rewarding experience for everyone.

When interviewing someone to join the team what do you look for?
For game balancing positions in particular, Goodgame Studios is looking for people who have the right mindset. During the interview, we want to see how they approach a problem and for them to display creative
and logical thinking to reach a solution.

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