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An Overview of Virtual Reality Game Design and Development

Given the popularity of video games, it isn’t surprising that more and more people want to make their own games, either for fun or profit. After all, the emergence of app stores means that developers don’t need a large company behind them to get their games into the hands of players and customers. Video games are created and played using a wide range of platforms; 

VR for game design and development

however, all are typically designed around the same basic concepts. Developers will need some basic coding skills and an understanding of how programming works. Developers can choose to build a video game from the ground up or by using a pre-built template.

Game Development vs. Game Design

It’s important to understand the difference between game development and game design. Coders will need to use both sets of skills to successfully design a fun game. The aesthetic and artistic look of the game falls under the umbrella of game design. Game design also includes the general plot, what players are trying to accomplish, how the game responds under specific conditions or player choices, and what aspects the game needs to succeed. Game developers (or programmers) write the code to make the game look and react the way it’s supposed to so that the game design can be achieved.

  • Video Game Design vs. Video Game Development: Successful video game design also includes elements like defining the target audience and designing the characters and locations that will populate the game. Developers work to successfully code a game to meet the designers’ criteria.

How to Make a Video Game: Five Steps

It can feel overwhelming to design and code a game. However, it’s very possible to learn the basics of video game creation and hone the necessary skills by designing and coding simpler games.

  • From Zero to Game Designer: This is a great primer for understanding how to begin to put ideas for video games into a workable design with the necessary elements.

Step 1: Do Some Research and Conceptualize Your Game

It’s important to spend time thinking about what sort of game you want to make. It’s a good idea to play other games and think about each game’s pros and cons. The next step is to understand what sorts of skills were needed to design each game. You may want to take a basic class or two so that analyzing the coding and design behind other games is easier.

  • CS50’s Introduction to Game Development: Harvard offers this free online course that teaches the basics of 2D and 3D games and explores the structure and design of popular games like Angry Birds and Super Mario Brothers.

Step 2: Work on a Design Document

Once you know how to analyze popular games and have conceptualized your own, it’s time to build a design document. A design document gives a brief outline of the game, describes the aesthetics of the game, and outlines the steps needed to successfully build the game. Things to consider as the document is written include the skill level of everyone involved (hiring things out can be costly), the languages to use when writing the game, and how any updates or new releases will be handled.

Step 3: Decide Whether You Need New Software

When conceptualizing a game, especially as a beginner, it’s important to consider your budget. Designing a video game will require software. Simple mobile apps can often be made with a compiler and basic code editor, but more complex games will need software with image editing and 3D modeling capabilities. These types of software can be expensive.

Step 4: Start Programming

After choosing what software will be used, it’s time to start coding the game. Complicated games will need a game engine to run on, but apps typically don’t. More complex games will require more extensive coding skills to bring them to life.

Step 5: Test Your Game and Start Marketing

Everyone wants their games to be played. That’s why a marketing plan is a key part of releasing a video game. However, before marketing comes testing. A game filled with bugs isn’t going to go over well with customers. Not only should the developer play the game in every mode possible, but it’s a good idea to get beta testers to help look for issues or weak spots. Then, it’s time to craft the marketing plan and put it into action to build excitement and name recognition for the game.

What Languages Can I Use to Make a Video Game?

Games built to run as an app can be built using many different languages, so any language the coder already is familiar with should work. More complex games, however, need a deeper understanding of coding languages and might need to incorporate more than one.


JavaScript is easy to learn and simple to use. Additionally, apps can be written by using JavaScript along with HTML and CSS on a platform like PhoneGap. Many people already have some degree of working knowledge of JavaScript.

  • Learn JavaScript: Hello, World: JavaScript is easy to learn, and even those with some familiarity will find that this course is a simple way to improve their skills.


The most used language for creating Android games is Java. Typically used along with Android Studio, Java can be used to build fully customized games that are also efficiently programmed. Anyone interested in writing Android-compliant games should learn Java.


Swift was designed by Apple to work with the iOS operating system. Swift makes it easier and faster to design games for Apple devices. Anyone interested in selling on Apple’s App Store or tapping into the iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch market should learn how to code in Swift.

The C Languages

The C languages, which include C, C#, and C++, are some of the most used programming languages when it comes to writing more complicated video games. For example, almost all computer- and console-based games are built with at least one of the C programming languages. However, it’s a good idea to learn more basic languages and code simpler games before attempting a game that requires learning one of the C languages.

What Other Skills Do I Need to Learn?

People who are determined to learn how to code a successful game need skills beyond just understanding a programming language. They will need to know how things like game engines, frameworks, and code libraries work.

How to Use Different Types of Software

Those planning on designing console-based games will find their choice of software vital to successfully reaching the goals. Popular software includes Unity, Unreal Engine, Godot Engine, GameMaker Studio, CryEngine, and Lumberyard. Each has strengths and weaknesses and varying levels of user-friendliness for beginners.

Design Skills

Design skills are vital to creating a video game that people will enjoy. Making challenging puzzles or strong monsters to fight isn’t enough: Games need to be visually appealing as well. Some coders choose to work with designers, but it’s also possible to develop design skills through courses and tutorials.

More Information on Virtual Reality Game Design and Development

  • Enabling VR: Unity produced this tutorial that guides users through an entire project.
  • The Complete Guide to Virtual Reality: Understanding the various VR platforms and what consumers want from their VR products and games helps designers create games that people actually want to play.

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