How to Make Video Games

By Contributor

Updated September 22, 2017

Items you will need

  • Notebook

  • Microsoft Excel (optional)

  • Artwork and photographs

  • Original music scores

  • Voice actors (optional)

  • Game design software

Make Video Games

Learning how to make video games isn't as challenging as some people believe. In fact, thanks to modern gaming software, programming is not required for making a video game. This lets gaming creators concentrate on what's more important--writing and level design. Yet, for those who are new to game design, trying to accomplish even these tasks becomes very challenging, since they don't know where to start. That's where this article comes in, as the steps below will give you a basic guideline on how you can get started making video games.

Think of an idea. Before you make video games, you need some ideas that you can work from. The flow of these ideas will depend on the genre in which you're working. For example, if you want to design a role-playing game, you're going to need to place heavy emphasis on original story-telling. Sci-fi and fantasy movies can give you some influence, as can existing role-playing games. On the other hand, if you're creating an action game, the plot can be more simplistic. In fact, many of these games operate more from a premise, which for some designers is an easier approach. For instance, if you design a platform game where the premise is to save the princess, you don't have to focus as much on the game's plot as the gaming action.

Write out your game's plot. Now, regardless of what genre you choose, you will need to create a plot for your video game. Again, role-playing games tend to have more complicated plots, but even action games should have some type of storyline. Anyway, to create a video game plot, start by closing your eyes and visualizing the actions of your characters. Try to see the whole "movie" before you write anything down. Once you get to the end, jot down what your mind's eye saw. After that, express the visual side of your ideas through a storyboard. This is achieved by drawing out the action, describing it and including captions of what the characters say. And don't worry if you can't draw. If you get a program such as Storyboard Quick, you can plan your scenes with pre-made drawings, or you could use rudimentary sketches. When your storyboarding is complete, transfer your ideas onto a script. This will make things more organized for both you and any voice-over actors you may have.

Plan your game's layout, which is an important aspect to consider when you make video games. It determines the type of atmosphere your game will create for the player. So, start planning your layout by drawing it in a notebook. Make sure your layouts are arranged according to their order in the game. Also make sure you jot down the significance of each object within the scene.

Create a flowchart to organize your game's action. When making video games, it's important to organize all of the actions that are going to occur within the game. And though you can do this with the above-mentioned writing methods, flow-charting is much easier because gaming action requires more logical planning. Create a flowchart for a video game by first defining your process--a description that goes inside of an oval. The results of this process would be expressed in triangles, (which would be connected to the oval through lined arrows). If these actions result in further actions, you could have to create new ovals and triangles. You can also add other symbols as needed.

If you need more help in this process, look in the resources section and check out the article "How to Create a Flowchart in Excel." Even if you don't have Excel, it will still be helpful; you'll just have to draw the flowchart by hand.

Decide on which console you're going to distribute your game. After you finish writing your game, you're ready to start bringing it to life. Of the current gaming consoles, the PC is the easiest platform for beginning game designers. It doesn't phase out like next-generation consoles, and it's not too difficult finding game design software. However, if you want to make video games for a living, you may want to consider distributing your games on a next-generation console (such as the Xbox 360 or the Nintendo Wii). Just keep in mind that each console has its own limitations when it comes to game design.

Design your game with video game software. The Reality and Genesis 3D are two examples of gaming design software you can use for the PC. Both of these programs are free. For the Xbox 360, you will have to make video games using XNA Game Studio Express, which is also free. To make video games for the Nintendo Wii, you will need to use WiiWare. This software costs $2,000 and requires approval from Nintendo (which is why it isn't available online). However, on the upside, if you do get approved, you can sell your games on Nintendo's Wii Shop Channel.

As far as other consoles, no official development software has been released. However, some game designers get around this with emulation technologies, where they make the PC act as the gaming console they want to imitate.

Either way, once you acquire the software you need, follow its instructions for implementing your game. Most will pretty much be the same: You draw out your layout while adding other elements, such as objects and scripted sequences. But since each program is different, you will need to consult the instruction manual to learn how to work each one.

Add multimedia. Multimedia is a very important element when it comes to making video games. It helps make your players feel as if they are embarking in another world, which is exactly the type of feeling you want to create when you make video games. Of course, if you don't have much money, trying to get multimedia could be very difficult. That's why you need to think outside of the box. For voice-overs, get friends and family to be your actors. If they aren't enough, you could consider paying college students to read your scripts. And, thanks to the technology, you may never have to see the voice-over actor in person. They can record their reading and send it to you via email.

As far as music and photographs, things get more complicated, mainly because these things have to be created based on what you imagined for your game. But don't fret, as you can get around this. For your photographs and artwork, consider buying from stock photo sites. True, the work won't be completely customized, but if you have any skills with Photoshop, you can probably work magic with what's already there. The music is a different story. If you can't hire a musician to create your scores, you will need to buy private label music. This is pre-made music to which you own the rights. You can find much of it on marketing forums or through Amazon.


If you decide you want to use stock photography before you design your video game, try to buy it as you are writing your game's storyline.


Always keep your games original to avoid copyright infringement.