InnoGames’ Thomas Flyvholm Pilgaard discusses the key skills needed for his role game design

Get That Job: How to be a lead game designer

Develop brings you a game industry professional to explain what their job involves and key advice to help you follow in their footsteps.

Lead game designer

Becoming a game designer is one of the most challenging and sought-after carrers in the industry. Thomas Flyvholm Pilgaard of InnoGames describes what it takes to join the select few designing the gameplay that makes interactive experiences so enthralling.

What is your job role?
I work at InnoGames in Hamburg, Germany as lead game designer on an unannounced game. In this role, I am responsible for creating and communicating the vision for the game, performing presentations for stakeholders, managing the design team, designing game features and many other things.

How would someone become a lead game designer?
I became a lead game designer at InnoGames through a combination of experience, skill, personality and luck. I have been working on game projects as a designer during my studies, with various companies, and on my own time. Working on games is invaluable for gaining experience as well as building skills. I have also found it worthwhile to complement my practical skills with theoretical studies not directly related to game design.

What qualifications and/or experience do you need?
From my point of view, in game design, nothing beats the hands-on experience of creating games. The best game designers I know combine that experience with theoretical knowledge from many different areas to inspire their work on innovative, engaging game experiences.

What do you look for when recruiting a new game designer?
When interviewing game designers at InnoGames, apart from ensuring the required experience and skill match for the vacant role, I look for the ability to think systematically about complex problems and to exhibit self-reflection. Those are among the traits I have found to be strong indicators for performing well as a game designer.

What opportunities are there for career progression?
At InnoGames, we make a distinction between specialists and generalists. As a lead, I fall into the generalist category as I need to identify how to handle any problem that needs solving in the area of game design. Another game designer focusing solely on system design and balancing falls into the specialist category, as he immerses himself deeply in solving problems. In addition, InnoGames offers several levels of seniority to recognise professional development.

Why choose to follow a career in your field?
Everybody has their own reasons. Here are a few I have heard while working in the field: To create something that will be enjoyed by millions of people; to work closely with a team of talented and engaged people; the love for games and the opportunity to work on them every day. I find strong internal motivation and determination to be absolute necessities to keep your head up when things get rough.

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