Most of us who like to play video games usually don't think about what it takes to actually make one. You go to the store, bring it home and start to play. But someone has worked hard for months (maybe years) to make sure the game is perfect when you play it.

Still, making video games must be a pretty cool job. It is, says Brian Fleming. He should know: He helped create Sucker Punch, the company behind the Sly Cooper games, for PlayStation 2. But it's not all fun and games. Game makers need to know lots of math and science. Game designers need to know the basics of being a good artist before they worry about computer skills.

Fleming's advice to those who want to design video games: The basics really matter.

For artists, "that means pen, pencil and color theory." For programmers, work on "algorithms and mathematics," said Fleming, who studied physics in college.

Fleming has wanted to develop video games from the time he was a kid. "I . . . wrote games for myself and my friends. In high school I wrote a game for a class project."

That doesn't mean that you should limit what you learn to become a game designer.

"Education is incredibly important. It gives you strong fundamentals, which provide a good base for you throughout your life," Fleming said. He offered these tips to help you later on in the gaming world.

Challenge yourself: "Take the highest quality [hardest] classes you can find from teachers whom you respect."

Create: "If you're a programmer, then write some small games. If you're an artist, create some models or levels for an existing game. It's fun and you'll learn a ton about making games."

Play games: "Play . . . and talk to your friends about what makes [games] fail or succeed.

Communicate: "Learning to express your own opinions clearly is very important, too. Video game work tends to be very collaborative, and if you haven't learned to listen and share ideas well, you'll be at a disadvantage."

-- Tom Ham

Sly Cooper: The raccoon thief returns for more missions. Murray, above, is the brawn of the gang and Bentley supplies the brains.Brian Fleming says education plays an important part in creating video games.