There are many courses on game design on the market. What is their problem? — in the column for answers Evgeny Sudak, Head of the Game design department at Pixonic.

Evgeny Sudak


When it comes to education in the specialty “game design”, spears and stones immediately fly in all directions.

And indeed, the interests of many intersect here. Some are looking for knowledge, the second are trying to make money on the first, the third are harshly mocking the first or second, and sometimes all at once.

Today I would like to dig into this topic a bit, share with you my point of view about learning game design.


My name is Evgeny Sudak. For the last year I have been working as the head of the game design department at Pixonic.

The issue of game design education is very acute for me, both as a person participating in several educational initiatives, and as a designer constantly looking for new techniques that can be mastered, and as a manager hiring graduates of these courses, among others.

Nevertheless, a disclaimer will follow here. With all my deep involvement in the topic, I remain a person, so I can be subjective, biased, uninformed, I can just be wrong. In this case, I will be glad if you point out the mistakes to me.

Important: all the following text illustrates the problems I noticed in educational programs in the CIS. I do not have sufficient knowledge of what is happening in the West and East.

The main problems

I will allow myself to divide the problems of education into:

  • global, related to the industry as a whole;
  • commercial, stemming from the fact that education is a business, and it has to take care of its profitability;
  • level-based (with an analysis of each skill level separately).

Global problems

1) Technical specialists have their own school. And we have to compete with “big IT” for these shots. We do not compete with anyone for game designers, but we can only rely on ourselves in matters of their education.

2) The speed of changes in game development is such that techniques become obsolete too quickly, and “you have to run with all your might just to stay in place.” Therefore, the biggest and most difficult problem to solve is the lack of systematic education.

Most of the courses I have encountered, at best, close some local tasks that seemed subjectively important to the authors, but they also do not talk about linking to any system.

3) The last problem partly stems from another — the lack of the right frames. Too often it happens that people who read courses do not have any significant practical experience, they do not have cases. This is especially often the domestic colleagues are often blamed on them.

Here, of course, one significant cognitive distortion should be noted, which can be formulated as follows: “success does not equal experience.” You may have years of experience, but without meaningful success, it doesn’t seem valuable. Or you can have great success, but you don’t necessarily have to have experience.

And, of course, the principle of “you can’t do — you teach” also works. Education is traditionally not a very prestigious and commercially successful industry in our country. Therefore, it often (but not always) happens that people leave hopelessness for educational projects. And it may even turn out to be quite systematic, but without practical application, alas.

4) This brings us to the next point, which is especially relevant recently — a large amount of “slag”:

  • some strange teachers with no experience in the industry;
  • game design courses in which there is not a single game designer among the teachers;
  • narrative design courses that teach screenwriting at best;
  • various “intensives” that promise to make you “Kojima in a month”.

All this makes it very difficult to separate the grains from the chaff, creates a large amount of information noise, which is not perceived in the best way.

Commercial problems

1) The employer, even in those relatively infrequent cases when he is interested in the growth and education of an employee, wants first of all to increase the employee’s efficiency on current tasks.

In other words, even when the employer declares an interest in the education and development of employees, his interests are exclusively applied and do not always coincide with the interests of the employee.

Due to the employer’s obsession with their own tasks, very often the fact that the applicant takes courses is ignored, since these courses do not correspond to the employer’s area of interest. At the same time, the purposefulness and perseverance of the applicant/employee, his willingness to develop and take on obligations are ignored.

2) The institute of reputation within the educational sphere has not developed. As a result, people responsible for teaching game disciplines do not think about whether their program can help graduates. They can always change the sign/lecturers/CA and continue trading rates.

Level problems

1) Problems of people without experience

First of all, because of problems in education, people without experience suffer, who would like to get into the industry, but who do not have enough knowledge. They often see the very ads “Become a game designer in 3 weeks and get from 120 thousand rubles a month” (the ad is a figment of the author’s imagination, any coincidences are random).

Often people go to these courses with the last money, taking installments, getting into debt. After graduation, they are surprised to find that recruiters do not line up for them, they are not welcome with open arms in the “best studios of the CIS”, and those who are ready to take them offer them multiples of smaller salaries.

And this is in the best case, if we are not talking about an absolutely frank “infotsiganism”, when a student is fed with statements that are absolutely not applicable in the real world for a month.

By the way, the problem of many courses is the thesis that everyone can be taught to make games. They accept any, there is no entrance qualification.

That’s not true. Not everyone can become a game designer, no matter how much they joke about it on the sidelines.

2) Problems of primary and secondary level specialists

Things are better at the junior-middle level, but not much. The main reason why it’s better here: specialists already have a somewhat critical perception, and many do not disdain to run to their elders for advice. So there is no outright “infocyganism” here. But there are other problems.

One of the central ones: working exclusively with microcases. We are talking about a situation when the material and methods are given to solve specific tasks without systematically linking them with other techniques.

For example, you can teach a student to calculate combat balance without telling him how it relates to other aspects of the game. But not everyone is doing this, and after all, the same junior is exactly the level at which a specialist should have a wall of competencies from the bricks of knowledge.

3) Problems of high-level specialists

I will highlight four aspects here:

  • very few people want to do this level, because the CA is very small (senior-s, as a rule, are not very actively looking for ways to further development);
  • there are big risks when launching such courses (senior may have a higher competence than courses, plus they are often critical of them);
  • teachers of this level are vanishingly few;
  • such a training format is gradually giving way to the mentoring format.

The most ironic thing is that “infocyganism” creeps out again, albeit of a slightly different kind. Here they promise to make a producer/ creative director / devil with horns out of a student in a managerial position. However, there are much fewer such guys than those who are at the zero level.

What to pay attention to when choosing a course

For those who still want to take a course in game design, I have prepared a set of markers that you should pay attention to when choosing them.

Good markers:

  • teaching is conducted by people with real experience, they talk about cases of their direct competencies (it’s easy to check through Facebook, Linkedin);
  • reasonable price (a game designer is not the highest paid specialty in the industry, besides, we mean a lot of independent work with it);
  • pay attention to whether the course is part of a large educational project, this may imply a systematic approach (but not necessarily);
  • there is an entrance qualification that allows you to recruit students with a predisposition to the relevant disciplines (a very important marker: a game designer, for example, should be good with math);
  • as part of the course, there is a communication channel with teachers (this at least indicates a more thorough study and readiness for dialogue).

Negative markers:

  • lack of a system: the course is based on the principle of a combined solyanka (follow the set of materials and topics);
  • unrealistic promises (if they promise that after the courses you will “steer all stages of the game” or a salary of 90 thousand);
  • a strange set of teaching staff (when game design is taught by programmers, project managers and 3D artists).

What else to pay attention to when choosing a course:

  • if they promise to employ you, find out what exactly is behind this point (sometimes it turns out that after the end of the course, your resume is simply sent to some recruiter and they consider their obligations fulfilled);
  • often good specialists are weak lecturers (look at their public speeches to see if they are suitable for you).


Of course, it’s nice to write incriminating lampoons, but a designer cannot voice problems without offering solutions. Therefore, below are a few ideas that will improve the situation.

1) Problems with the teaching staff to solve requires a team of a strong professional who will prepare the material, and a good lecturer-methodologist who will turn them into full-fledged lectures. Not all of us are given to be Richard Phillips Feynman, who could combine both qualities, so teamwork is often the way out.

2) The problem with the lack of interest in courses on the part of employers is solved by working more closely with customers. Any product should be based on solving the customer’s pain. And the customer in this case is not students, but employers. They are the ones who dictate the requirements and it is with them that you need to discuss the course programs. At the same time, of course, the interests of students and teachers must also be taken into account. Perhaps the solution lies in sponsorship, branded courses, the right of priority consideration of graduates.

3) It is necessary to think about how to soften the payment terms for students. I understand that educational institutions, as a rule, are not ready to provide employment guarantees. However, I am sure that a scenario is possible in which a student will pay for courses from a future salary.

As for such an important problem as the lack of a system for training game designers, it cannot be solved privately. Therefore, I would like to invite respected colleagues who consider this problem worth attention to a dialogue. I hope that together we will be able to find ways to solve it.


If you have the impression that I am opposed to educational initiatives, then believe me, this is not so. I have been thinking a lot about the transfer of knowledge and I really want “all the flowers to bloom in this field.” History will judge which of the schools was the best, whom students will remember with gratitude.

Thank you for reading, I will be glad to hear your comments on the topic.

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