Does the look and playability of video games gets you just as excited as the gameplay itself? Do you marvel at the ability of a game to immerse players in another world? Do you enjoy 3D CAD design or have the passion to learn? If you fall into those categories, game design may be the perfect career for you.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there is strong demand for game designers who can create visual effects and animations. Steady advances in game-making technology mean opportunities abound for anyone willing to learn new technical skills.
However, in the video game design industry, there is a lot of competition for available jobs. Also, some companies outsource design to overseas workers to save money. That means professionals with a variety of skills are most attractive to employers.
Students and professionals who are interested in the field should check out the list of schools with well respected video game design curriculums below. This list of ten schools was compiled from the following resources:
- The Princeton Review: Top Undergraduate Schools for Video Game Design
- Animation Career Review: 2013 Top 50 Schools in the U.S. for Game Design and Development
- Successful Student: 27 Best Video Game Colleges 2015
- Forbes: The Top Colleges and Grad Schools to Study Game Design
- GameDesigning: The 50 Best Game Design Schools in the U.S.
The list includes a mix of U.S. four-year colleges and smaller specialty schools (If you have suggestions for non-U.S. schools, please leave them in the comments below). Some of the factors in choosing the schools on the list include:
- Depth and breadth of the program and faculty
- Academic reputation
- Career prospects
- Cutting edge technological instruction
- Proximity to video game and entertainment epicenters
USC offers four degree programs. For students interested in design and production, they offer a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts in Interactive Media & Games. For students interested in Technical Development, they offer a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Computer Science.
All degrees include hands-on technology learning and creative project development. With its proximity to Hollywood, students have a unique opportunity to learn from professionals working in the gaming industry.
The University of Utah’s Entertainment Arts and Engineering (EAE) program was developed by the Department of Film and Media Arts and the School of Computing. The program combines art-focused students with technology-minded students to learn how games are made.
It offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. The undergraduate program offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a Game Engineering Emphasis or a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media Art with a Game Arts Emphasis. Students from both tracks take common classes culminating in a year-long senior project where they build a video game from the ground up
The school’s Master Games Studio is a unique masters program that was designed with industry partners. Students can choose to focus on Game Arts, Game Technical Art, Game Engineering and Game Production. They are able to develop a professional game portfolio and intern in the video game industry (some with nearby EA Sports).
DigiPen, heavily supported by Nintendo, offers a number of undergraduate programs with focuses in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Engineering and Sound Design, Digital Art and Animation, Game Design, and Music and Sound Design. Its Masters programs focus on Computer Science and Digital Arts. Students enter the industry as skilled software developers, artists, designers and computer engineers.
DigiPen also offers non-degree studies for students that are looking to enhance their current skills by taking a class or two.
Drexel Game Design and its RePlay Lab were developed by the Digital Media department and the Computer Science department. Game development is offered in a “coordinated cross-listed series of courses” in both departments. This approach is meant to offer the multi-departmental experience of real-world commercial game design settings.
Drexel offers a Bachelor of Science in Game Art and Production, Bachelor of Science in Programming and Development and a Master of Science in Digital Media. The university has a love of cutting edge technology that serves its students well as they have won several design awards from Adobe, Microsoft and others.
Rochester Institute of Technology is one of the most well established technical schools in the U.S. with more than 150 classes given per year through its Interactive Games and Multimedia department. It created the country’s first laboratory for social computing in 2005.
Students learn how technology, content and systems create interactive experiences. They can choose to focus on a Bachelor of Science in Game Design and Development or in New Media Interactive Development. Graduate students can pursue a Masters of Science in Game Design and Development.
Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science and College of Fine Arts sponsor their game design programs. The Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts covers all the components of game creation including programming, story and character development, visual and sound design, and game engine development. It prepares students for careers in fields like game design, computer animation and robotic art.
The Masters of Entertainment Technology is a unique program that combines fine art, technology and entrepreneurship. Students are able to learn from industry leaders and are required to develop games while working in teams. This prepares them for the realities of working at a major game development studio.
Full Sail University offers Bachelor’s programs in Game Art, Game Development, Game Design and Mobile Development, as well as Master’s programs in Game Design and Mobile Development. The Mobile Development program covers game and application development, distribution and marketing specifically for iOS and Android devices.
Besides the Mobile Development program, one of the aspects that sets Full Sail apart is their attention to the social interaction among students and its importance as video games become more complex and require bigger teams.
Their graduates have gone on to work on games like Halo 4, Call of Duty and Dead Space. They’ve also landed positions with Disney Interactive, EA Tiburon, Insomniac Games and Microsoft.
Do you have additional schools you would recommend? Let us know in the comments below.