If the past year has given us anything, it’s the excuse to find pure escapism. Who better to help us in this endeavour than one of the best game designers from our platform? We’re all aware that, without naming names, there’s a reason why many more of us than ever before are seeking fulfilment within the fantasy world of video games. One couple even chose to hold their wedding on Animal Crossing after recent events forced them to cancel their IRL celebration.

And why not? We thought our planet was big, the gaming world is bigger. Somewhat like an endless universe of genres, platforms and styles, what sets apart the amazing from the average is design, both structurally and aesthetically speaking. So, for those who are considering developing a game, or for those who just enjoy them, we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 game designers with a little insider knowledge.

gaming design illustration
Illustration by OrangeCrush

What to think about when hiring a game designer

According to Forbes, the video game industry is set to be worth over $200 billion by 2023. Who knew an Angry Bird could be so lucrative? The next step to becoming the next Jaakko lisalo is to choose the right game designer who can make your vision a reality, especially as this artform encompasses such a ginormous range of material. Before you jump into hiring a designer, it’s important to consider the following factors:

Think about the kind of game you want to create

Prior to approaching a designer, it’s important to really understand what you want out of the project. Are you looking to create an addictive app game so that you can sell ad space? Or is it a lifelong dream to make a fantasy world akin to The Legend of Zelda? As with any project, it’s always a good idea to create a clear structure from the get go.

Fill your game with your favorite treats! Design by f-chen
Or, will your digi puzzle be a tongue twister? Design by faleksandar

Create a clear brief

The best way to get what you want out of any project is to create a clear brief. That way both parties always have the briefing document to refer to when you’re unsure of next steps and need reminding of the objectives of the project.

Creating a moodboard of design inspiration and style is also a great (and really fun) way of demonstrating what you’re expecting. Once you’ve nailed your brief, go one step further and create a time plan to give regular feedback so that you both stay on track.

farm themed gaming app
It’s all fun and games in this app design, by agnes design

Consider your target audience

The key to succeeding when designing anything for a consumer is to really understand who your target audience is. Once you’ve decided which audience you want to speak to, it’s wise to research what games they already play and what social habits they have. All this information paints a picture of your target audience and you can keep this in mind when designing your game.

Is it a fantasy world you’re looking for? Design by tarkomp
Or a darker realm of vampires? By I am a sinner
brightly colored, pixelated video game
Perhaps you want a retro kingdom of pixelated fun? Design by Jeff Purnawan

Look at the designer’s past experience

The best way to get a clear idea if the designer is able to fulfil your vision is by having a deep dive into their portfolio. If you are unclear on how you would like the game to appear, looking through someone’s portfolio is also a great way to get inspired. Once you have chosen your designer, you can refer to their portfolio by picking out elements of past projects that you like.

The 10 best freelance game designers to hire in 2021

  1. 1
    • Logo design
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • Logo & business card
    • Other design
    • Logo & brand guide
    • Logo & social media pack
    • Brand guide
    • T-shirt
    • Postcard, flyer or print
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Clothing or apparel
    • Business card
  2. 2
    • 3D
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Other design
    • Product packaging
    • Product label
    • Book cover
    • Other art or illustration
    • Logo design
    • Poster
    • Car, truck or van wrap
    • T-shirt
    • Merchandise
    • Logo & business card
  3. 3
    • Logo design
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • Logo & social media pack
    • Logo & business card
    • Logo & brand guide
    • Other design
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Menu
    • Stationery
    • Social media page
    • Product label
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • Other art or illustration
  4. 4
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Book cover
    • T-shirt
    • Logo design
    • Merchandise
    • Other book or magazine
    • Other art or illustration
    • Product packaging
    • Other design
    • Magazine cover
    • Tattoo
    • Signage
    • Other web or app design
    • Clothing or apparel
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • Stationery
    • Social media page
    • Product label
    • Poster
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • Infographic
    • Character or mascot
  5. 5
    • Character or mascot
    • Logo design
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Banner ad
    • Logo & social media pack
    • Logo & business card
    • Postcard, flyer or print
    • Other packaging or label
    • Other design
    • Business card
  6. 6
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Character or mascot
    • Logo design
    • Other art or illustration
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • App design
    • Infographic
    • Logo & social media pack
    • Signage
    • Other design
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • Other business or advertising
    • Logo & business card
    • Business card
    • 3D
  7. 7
    • App design
    • Logo design
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Icon or button
    • Product packaging
    • Other design
    • Character or mascot
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • Card or invitation
    • Other web or app design
    • Infographic
    • 3D
    • Social media page
    • Logo & social media pack
    • Product label
    • PowerPoint template
    • Poster
    • Other book or magazine
    • Merchandise
    • Flash banner
    • Banner ad
  8. 8
    • Logo design
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • Logo & social media pack
    • Logo & business card
    • Logo & brand guide
    • Signage
    • Other design
    • Email
  9. 9
    • Logo design
    • Illustration or graphics
    • Other art or illustration
    • Other clothing or merchandise
    • Merchandise
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • Other business or advertising
    • Clothing or apparel
    • Product label
    • Character or mascot
    • T-shirt
    • Product packaging
    • Card or invitation
    • Logo & brand guide
    • Logo & social media pack
    • Other packaging or label
    • Other design
    • Sticker
    • Poster
    • Logo & business card
    • Tattoo
    • Infographic
    • Brochure
    • Book cover
    • Typesetting with imagery
    • Stationery
    • Postcard, flyer or print
    • Other book or magazine
    • Business card
  10. 10
    • Logo design
    • Logo & business card
    • Other design
    • Logo & brand identity pack
    • T-shirt
    • Logo & brand guide
    • Sticker
    • Logo & social media pack
    • Product label
    • Business card
    • Poster
    • Merchandise
    • 3D

How did we choose these as the top game designers?

It’s all very well having the vision of creating your own game, but it’s impossible to make this dream a reality without the expertise of a seasoned pro game designer.

That’s why we looked at the following criteria to choose the finest game designers for this list:

1. Design quality

animated logo for warhammer fan account
Fit for an official Warhammer admirer, this animated logo is by bubupanda

When a designer joins 99designs, an expert from our team goes through their portfolio and considers the conceptual thought, technical execution and knowledge of design principles evident in their work. They then assign the designer one of three levels:

  • Top Level
  • Mid Level
  • Entry Level

These levels are displayed on designer portfolios, so you can easily see if you’re working with someone with lots of experience and design chops, or someone that is up-and-coming.

2. Game design experience

Becoming a game designer isn’t usually an occupation you fall into just because of your childhood love of The Sims. There are actual masters degrees and even PhDs in game design to learn how to design and code.

In addition to looking at overall quality, we specifically vetted each designer on this list to make sure they had experience with and specialized in game design.

space machine illustration with retro neons and gradients
A winning combo of sci fi colors by Dexterous

3. Professionalism

Of course you want someone with design skills, but you also want a game designer who communicates with you throughout the process, delivers on time and is generally good to work with. So we took past customer experiences into account to make sure all of our recommended game designers are professionals in service as well as design.

Are you ready to hire an amazing freelance game designer?

There are so many brilliant game designers out there, all offering their own unique take on the world of game design. Figuring out what style of game design, who your target audience is and what you want out of the project all hold the key to deciphering who is the best game designer for the job. If these 10 designers aren’t hitting the nail on the head for your project, search to find the ideal match.

Want more game designer choices?
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