What makes a great game designer portfolio?
It’s not rocket science.
Whether you have decades of experience or not, you simply need to put yourself in your potential employer or client’s shoes and add what they want to see in your portfolio.
So what do they want to see in your portfolio?
We’ll get into that in a bit. But before we go into that, let’s define what a game designer portfolio means — to make sure we’re on the same page.
What’s a game designer portfolio?
A game designer portfolio is a collection of your past experiences in your game design journey. It helps you show your recruiter, investor (or whoever you’re showing it to) what you’re capable of when it comes to designing gaming apps.
So now that we’ve gotten that definition out of the way, let’s look at what you should be putting in your portfolio.
7 important sections to cover in your portfolio
(And these are in no particular order)
1. Testimonials and reviews
There’s almost nothing as convincing as users or past clients commending your apps. It’s an objective way to persuade anyone to want to work with you.
Simply go to the play store page of any app you’ve built and take screenshots of some five-star reviews there. Then put it in a prominent spot in your portfolio. For example:
To make it look even more convincing and objective, add screenshots of some four-star reviews. Why? Because recruiters/investors know most apps don’t get five stars for all their reviews.
So add some four-star reviews so you look more legit. Make sure it’s nothing too ugly. Aim for a 4-star review that says everything good but one little fix that can easily be added… something like this:
If you can get testimonials from your previous recruiters, that’s even better. If you can’t, no problem. The reviews are enough to prove your skills.
2. Games and any other apps you’ve built
The purpose of this section in your portfolio is to show how far you’ve gone with game development — in a quick glance.
Simply feature the images and demos of games/apps you’ve built.
But beyond highlighting the apps you’ve built, you also need to explain the specific things you did in each project. This leads to our next step.
3. Explain the logic behind the apps you built
It’s one thing to put your past roles or projects in a CV, it’s another thing to spell out the exact things you did in those roles/projects.
But why do you need to spell your actions out?
Spelling them out will help recruiters understand where/how you can help with their projects and company.
For example, you can describe the tools/stack and thought process you used to build each project in your portfolio.
This will show which tools you’re proficient with and reassure recruiters that you know how to use the kits they’d need.
Or if you were a part of a team that built an app with millions of installs, and you contributed to the game marketing strategy they used, put that in there as well.
The main point here is: spell out every relevant thing you’ve done in your game dev journey. It will help recruiters see how you think, make decisions, and ultimately how you can help them.
What we’ve listed above are often the most important parts of any portfolio. And you can build it offline (using a PDF file) or a website. But the website is often a better option since it lets you display your design prowess better.
4. Make your strengths shine in your portfolio
One of the main questions in most recruiters’ minds is: “What can he/she do?”
And anytime they come across a skill you have, they go “Hmm… s/he can do that.”
It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll hire you right off the bat, but you get a leg up above other candidates who may not have the strengths you’re showing in the portfolio.
For instance, if you’re able to completely build an app in three days where it would normally take other developers three weeks, then speed is a strength you have. And you shouldn’t only include it in your portfolio; put a big light on it.
If possible, put it in a headline not far from the top of your portfolio so it’s one of the first things recruiters see.
(Author’s note: Get the good stuff below).
5. An “about me” section
A portfolio isn’t only about what you’ve done; it’s also about who you are as a person.
When a recruiter is viewing your portfolio, they know they’re not just going to be working with your skills, they’ll be working with you as a person.
So they’re often curious to know not only what you do but who you are.
Questions you need to answer in this section include:
- Why and how did you get into game dev?
- Where did you go to college? (If any)
- What are you passionate about?
- Any hobbies? (This makes you appear more likeable.)
6. A “Contact me” section
Basic as this is, it’s possible to forget including your contact info in your portfolio.
But it’s one important element to not forget.
A recruiter can — at any point while going through your portfolio — decide they want to schedule a meeting or call with you.
And what they’d want is to scroll to the top or bottom of your portfolio to find a way to reach you. If they can’t find one, they’d have to dig their email or do some other stressful task to find you.
And you don’t want to put them through that. Make it easy for them to reach you.
A bonus point: keep updating your portfolio
As you keep growing in your career, projects come and go.
But you can put them to good use even after they go. How? By detailing them in your portfolio. As you grow in your career, you may get dream opportunities at any time and you’ll need to have your portfolio updated and ready to apply.
It’d help recruiters/investors if you have a portfolio that details all the work you’ve done in the past.
If you’ve not been updating your portfolio, it may be hard to start collating all the work you’ve done for years. So it’s best to keep piling up your portfolio as you proceed.
Now, let’s look at a few game design portfolio examples you can learn from to build your own portfolio.
4 Game designer portfolio examples worth learning from
(Full disclaimer: we have no affiliation with the developers whose portfolios we feature here.)
Why this game artist portfolio is worth emulating:
- One of the first things you’ll see on Josh’s portfolio is a video of him talking about how he started out in game designing.
- On the left side of the portfolio, recruiters can click to see his professional projects, C.V, awards, personal projects he’s worked on, blog, contact details, and LinkedIn profile.
- Josh shares the programming languages he’s experienced with: C/C++, LUA, C#, Python, and GSC. He also shared project management tools, engines, and version control software he can work with.
- The entire portfolio site is a one-pager. When you click any of the links (except the portfolio and LinkedIn links) on the left sidebar, you’ll land on a section of the page for the link you clicked.
2. Hugo Peters
Why this portfolio is worth emulating:
- The first section of the portfolio shows a showreel of Hugo’s past projects.
- Under the showreel, recruiters can see his About Me section where he talks about his journey into game dev and how he got to where he is now as a junior developer.
- Then his professional projects are right under the About Me section.
- And his contact details are at the bottom of the page — which is often where recruiters expect to find this.
Why this portfolio is worth learning from:
- Molly starts off by introducing herself as a game programmer, hard worker, and Tetris enthusiast. These all show recruiters who she is as a person.
- She included where she currently works and highlights projects she’s worked on and companies she’s worked with.
- On her résumé page, she goes into more detail about the studios she’s worked with and her roles in those places.
- She has her resume in PDF and DOC formats and she has links there for recruiters to click to save it if they want.
- From the top menu bar of her portfolio site, recruiters can easily navigate to other pages where she details her professional projects, fun side projects, résumé, and contact.
Why this portfolio is worth emulating:
- Like all the other portfolios we’ve covered above, Michael has his About Me, Resume, and Projects pages.
- But in his resume, he goes even deeper to share some qualities about himself that could give him an upper hand among other candidates.
He shared that he speaks two languages: English and Swedish. Then he included a list of all his hard and soft skills — which were eight in total.
In this guide, we’ve covered everything you need to know about building a game designer portfolio.
One last thing we’ll add is you need to start sharing your portfolio. Sometimes your dream job won’t just land on your lap. You need to go out there and apply for the game designer jobs you want.