How do I get an internship as a game designer?

You’re going to do an internship as a game designer! After months of studying, it’s time to put your knowledge and skills as a game designer into practice. An incredibly fun period. But before this fun period starts, you first have to find an internship and that can be quite difficult. You are not the only one looking for an internship. How do you make sure you stand out among all the other candidates?

If you are reading this article, chances are that you are interested in an internship at Grendel Games. We are big fans of interns and are therefore looking for a game designer to strengthen our team. We offer a lot as a client, but also ask a lot from the intern.

Every year, we receive a large number of applications.  We know it can be quite difficult to stand out and be chosen as an intern. In this article, we want to give you more insight into our selection procedure for the internship as game designer. After reading this article you can immediately get started with your portfolio and increase your chances of a cool internship as a game designer!

In this article we answer the following questions:

  • What kind of game designer am I?
  • What game design skills are important to a firm like Grendel Games?
  • What can you do as a game designer to distinguish yourself?
  • How do we assess game design portfolios?
  • Convincing portfolio components: what do you have to think about?
  • What does an internship as a game designer at Grendel Games look like?

Before you read on…

We can imagine you will be shocked when you read this article because of all the skills and requirements we mention We recognize the skills requirements mentioned here can be daunting for potential applicants. Fortunately, we acknowledge that it is impossible to be good at everything. Nobody is perfect! However, the tips we mention here will provide you with a clear direction for personal development and improvement. Above all, don’t let them scare you away, but rather motivate you!

What kind of game designer am I?

One of the first questions you should ask yourself before applying for a job as a game designer is: what kind of game designer are you or do you want to become? There are several specializations within the field:

  • Level designer: as a level designer you create the game environments. You have knowledge of game design, light and space and understand how to use these principles to guide players through a level and influence their emotions so that they are enthusiastic to play the next level.
  • Storyteller: Are you imaginative and do you know how to tell an exciting story? As a storyteller, you will immerse yourself in the narrative of the game. You can blend in with the target audience and hold their attention by writing powerful, sequential dialogues. Finally, you focus on the tension curve of the background story.
  • Game rule creator: rules and frameworks are crucial in games. They make sure a player doesn’t get stuck or make the wrong choice. As a game rule creator, you are analytically very strong. You understand how to improve the course of the game through rules.
  • UX-designer: as a UX-designer (‘user experience’) you are concerned with the graphical interface of games. You also know better than anyone how to incorporate gameplay elements in the game that give feedback to the player. Which button should be pressed? How is feedback from the game shown to the player?

Make sure you indicate in your portfolio what your speciality and/or ambition is. Later in this article, we will go deeper into the type of game designer we are looking for.

Which skills are important for a game designer?

Before we go into game design skills, it is important to think about what ‘type of game designer’ you want to become. Someone who wants to do level design needs a skillset different from a game designer who likes to think up rules of the game. A game rule creator needs to be a little less imaginative than someone who will come up with the narrative (storyline) in a game.

There are a number of skills that make you, a game designer, very strong and which we pay attention to when choosing a game design intern. One of those skills is creativity. You can be creative in all shapes and sizes. The most important thing is that you are creative for the purposes of the job requirements. Do you want to be a storyteller? Then creativity in devising, for example, attractive, compelling dialogues is important.

During your internship, you will also have to consult with other colleagues on a regular basis. As a game designer, you have to work together with people from different disciplines. It is therefore important that you are not afraid to ask others for help when needed. Good collaboration leads to a better result! Having good listening skills also ensures that the collaboration with your colleagues runs smoothly.

Furthermore, regular contact with clients means you need to empathize with the target group.  For instance, you may have certain ideas about a game, while the client or the target group thinks completely differently about it. A good game designer is able to let go of his own ideas and explore new insights based on feedback from external relations. Although you have to be critical, if you can bundle the opinions of all parties and incorporate them into one solution, you will notice a huge improvement in the effectiveness of a (serious) game.

In addition to these skills, there are of course a number of other factors that we find important. Think of a good dose of motivation, passion for your work, and room for fun!

How do we assess game design portfolios?

It is quite difficult to show the best of yourself in a portfolio. We also notice this when we go through applications. The basics are usually fine, but most portfolios lack in-depth content and details.

We believe it’s important to give everyone an equal chance by critically and objectively reviewing each portfolio. That is why we ask for a detailed portfolio with the following components:

  • CV with your education, work experience, skills, hobbies and projects you’ve done outside of your study/work time.
  • A motivation letter explaining why you would like to do your internship with us.
  • At least one game design document (or script, as a storyteller) that you have written.
  • Material that shows your contribution to at least three games.

To give more clarity about ‘the details and in-depth content of portfolios’, we take you into three parts of game design portfolios that you can pay attention to.

Group projects or individual projects?

During your studies, you will have to deal with a lot of group projects. In a group of four or five people, you work on the development of a game. Super cool! But what was your role? Often this is not indicated in a game design portfolio. It is then impossible for us to give an assessment.

A  group project could have been very valuable for your development. That’s why we advise you to put them on your portfolio with a good foundation! To substantiate, mention:

  • What your role was in the project (did you write all the stories or come up with all the rules? Name it and show it!).
  • How the collaboration went and what your role was in this collaboration.
  • What the project results were.
  • What your personal learning goals were and if you achieved them.
  • The preconditions of the project
  • You have developed a game and you are proud of it! This game shows you in your portfolio. If the background information is missing,  then it is difficult for us to give an opinion on it.

Imagine: you have written the storyline for a game for a study assignment. The document consists of two pages, with strong content. Imagine that this was written in two months, our opinion could be that the result is rather poor. But did you only have one day to write it? Suddenly it can be viewed as an incredibly good job.

There are a total of five conditions that we would like to see reflected in a portfolio:

  • How long did the project last?
  • What was the budget?
  • How big was the team?
  • Who was the target group?
  • What was the project objective?

By giving this context to your portfolio, we can better appreciate the work you show.

Research and research results

Rarely do we see a student’s portfolio that contains their research results. In serious games, research is often one of the most important parts of the project.  A ‘normal’ game can contain a research design and research results. Have you had to deal with this during the creation of a game? Show it in your portfolio! You will score bonus points.

By the way, it doesn’t matter if the research results are negative. It’s also no problem if it’s a mini-research or simply an overview of the results of a game you’ve been working on. Were the research results disappointing? Then indicate why and how they can be improved next time, for example by improving the prototype.

What can you do as a game designer to stand out from the rest?

You now know which skills are important for a game designer and you understand how to create a good portfolio before you apply. Great! But of course you’re not the only applicant. That’s why we want to tell you how you can rise above the other applicants. In other words: score bonus points!

Be concrete: who are you and who do you want to become?

One of the first questions you have to ask yourself before applying as a game designer is: what kind of game designer do you want to become? If you have an answer to this question,  then parts of your portfolio must reflect it.

We are looking for someone who is specialized in one subject, but also has a basic knowledge of the other parts. Please indicate in your portfolio to what extent you have experience in the other areas. An example could be that your speciality lies in coming up with the storyline (narrative) of a game, but that in the past you also sometimes thought up the rules for a game. Or that you may have taken a course in how to create an atmosphere or excitement in a game. There is a lot involved in the development of games. The more you know, the better you can do your job.

What are your interests and passions?

We also like to see what your personal interests and passions are. Chances are that gaming is a passion of yours. However, we are looking for an intern with broader interests. This can be done in different ways.

For example, your portfolio you can show that you’ve done more than just game design during your studies. Perhaps you are active in certain groups or communities within the gaming industry to promote your knowledge and contacts in that world.

Also, show your hobbies and general interests in your portfolio! At Grendel Games we make serious games for different agencies. From schools, hospitals and commercial companies to organizations within the sustainability sector. Do you happen to be interested in sustainability? Then this could be the reason that we offer you this internship as a game designer!

Convincing portfolios: what to look at?

In the meantime, you’ve been given a whole list of tips on how to get that internship. To conclude, we would like to share a portfolio with you in which a number of elements have emerged that we are excited about. The applicant had a portfolio in the form of a website. It concerns the following details:

  • Featured section on the homepage. Here four games are shown that the applicant made. It is immediately clear that these are four completely different games, which indicates that the applicant has experience with different games and target groups.
  • Award winning: one of the games that are mentioned is award winning.
  • Board game: the applicant has independently developed a board game and shows it in his portfolio. In an independent project it is immediately clear to us what the applicant has contributed to the game.
  • About me page in which the applicant shows a spontaneous photo with a background story about himself. He talks about his passions, experience, qualities and competences.
  • Learning objectives and results: in the game ‘The Hunt’ in his portfolio, learning objectives and results are mentioned.

As you can see, this applicant has thought about the content and level of detail of the portfolio. This led to a convincing application as a game designer.

An internship as game designer at Grendel Games

Now that you know more about getting an internship as a game designer you can get started! Of course, you can apply these tips and tricks for every internship. Grendel Games is also regularly looking for game design interns. For every internship, we are on the lookout for a talented and motivated game design student.

At Grendel Games you get a lot of guidance and you get to work with real projects and customers! You will get all the necessary guidance and you will learn a lot. Our goal is to get you ready for the job market.

Who knows, we might take you on as an employee after the internship.

Are you enthusiastic about our company and do you think it’s cool to do an internship here? Take a look at our vacancies to see if there is still a vacancy!

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