The Six Types of Game Designers

Not all game developers are created alike.  Whether AAA or indie, we all have our particular talent or interests, what skill set we bring to the design table.  Though individual talents are as numerous as the stars above, designers can also fall into a well-defined spectrum of developer types, depending on their genre and gameplay. Let's run through the game designer types the Guru uses to classify developers:

The Experience Designer

As the title suggests, the Experience Designer is focused on conveying a specific experience, whether that be a particular role in society, an activity, or an emotion. While every designer wants their game to be fun, an experience designer is more emphatic that it convey the truth of the matter at hand.  While the XP Designer doesn't necessarily need to drill down into every aspect of their intended experience, they do have a desire to make sure they truly convey the spirit or overall feeling.  Simulation games like "Power Wash Simulator" or FPS games like COD or PUBG are good candidates for an XP Designer, but they'll also enjoy intimate games like "Gone Home" or Firewatch, where they convincingly convey the feeling of being a forest ranger.

The Lore Builder

Do you love to build new worlds, crafting unique cultures and exploring the depths of each different society and setting? Lore Builders love a good story, and focus on building out the characters and social systems that make good stories work. The typical lore enthusiast will be drawn to creating the epic narratives in an RPG like Oblivion or setting up the exploration in a Single Player Adventure game like Uncharted, but they'll also be intrigued by anything where they can create an in-depth system to explore like Civilization's skill trees or the environmental story-telling in "Dark Souls".

The Content Creator

Customization has come a long way in games.  Though earlier titles were limited in scope by memory requirements and graphical limitations, today's games are able to offer a ton of character creation and user-generated content.  With games like "Game Builder Garage", Roblox, or "Little Big Planet", players can even design the entire game themselves!  Affording that level of customization and giving the player the tools for putting their own products into the world of the game is the ultimate dream of the Content Creator.  Obvious examples for  the Content Creator are mobile games like Choices or "Kim Kardashian: Hollywood", but also crafting games like Factorio, "Don't Starve", or "Harvest Moon" can also satisfy that fix.

The Problem Solver

The Problem Solver loves putting their players in tight situations, forcing them into pressure-filled scenarios and seeing if they can survive or thrive.  If Action is Character, the Problem Solver is all about making players define their character by making tough choices and dealing with the consequences.  Fighting games like "Street Fighter"  or "Mortal Kombat" are classic examples for a Problem Solver, but they'll also be attracted to games like "The Sims", Civilization, or "Yes, Your Grace", where the player must choose on behalf of society and suffer the consequences of making the wrong move.

The Party Planner

In the heart of a Party Planner, games are all about exploring complex social dynamics in a light-hearted judgment free setting.  Though they can still touch upon very serious subjects, Party Planners are focused on the fun of an event. Their primary desire is to bring people together and help them understand each other, and to have a good time while doing it.  Multiplayer games like "Mario Party" or "Among Us" are obvious favorites for the Party Planner, but they'll also enjoy MMO's where they can bring a wide variety of disparate societies together, as well as Visual novels or JRPGs with a focus on recruiting companions.

The Cultural Connoisseur

The go to warm up song for a Cultural Connoisseur might be the classic DJ Khaled hit, "All I Do is Win". As a designer, the Connoisseur is focused on providing a playground for skilled play, and also ensuring that the Player has a way to compare and compete with others to prove their elite skills.  Its not all competition though, as the Connoisseur also has a focus on community empowerment.  It's good to be top dog, but if your the only one playing, that's not going to be too fun.  E-sports titles like "Smash Brothers" or "League of Legends" definitely draw the interest of a Cultural Connoisseur, but so too do games like "Dark Souls", "Apex Legends", or even Tetris, where the emphasis is more on the level of skill necessary to play well.