Video games have gone far, far beyond mindless entertainment and time-killing diversion. They’re that, of course – and enthusiasm for video games has created a global industry projected to reach $140 billion by 2026. But game art, design, and development is becoming central to all kinds of industries, from medicine (with doctors and nurses training on simulations) to education (with the gamification of learning) and even the military (with simulated training and drone warfare becoming key to protecting forces). Students learning to program and design today will be transforming industries in ways we can’t even predict tomorrow.
Students looking for the best video game design degree programs have a lot of schools to choose from, and the list is growing yearly. Computer science departments, engineering schools, art and design colleges, and many more have developed gaming programs and majors for game design. An on-campus program at the best game design colleges gives students access to cutting-edge labs, industry-experienced mentors, and connections that will make their career transition seamless. The Bachelor’s Degree Center ranking of the top game design colleges is intended to guide students there.
Methodology: Ranking the Best Video Game Design Degree Programs
The first step for Bachelor’s Degree Center editors was a sweeping search for all of the accredited video game art, design, and development programs available at the bachelor’s level. From there, we ranked programs according to the factors we consider most important for judging a bachelor’s degree program. We use five factors, with data drawn from IPEDS, College Scorecard, and Niche student reviews: Average Alumni Salary, Employment Rate, Graduation Rate, Reputation, and Tuition Cost.
With these five factors, students can feel confident that their program combines quality, student satisfaction, and real job market impact for an all-around great investment.
1. Georgia Institute of Technology
The Georgia Institute of Technology’s BS in Computational Media, from the Ivan Allen School of Literature, Media & Communication, has set the standard for gaming education. Students graduate prepared for rewarding careers in Special Effects Creation, Augmented Reality, 3D Modeling, and Interactive Game Simulation, among others. Potential internships for students in the video game design degree are available with IBM Boeing, Microsoft, Sapient Nitro, and General Motors, among others. Coursework includes Principles of Interactive Design, Animation, and Constructing the Moving Image.
Georgia Tech was established in 1885 as the Georgia School of Technology, bringing modern science and engineering to the South. Georgia Tech is a space-grant institution of higher learning with satellite campuses in Savannah, France, China, Singapore, and Ireland. The school operates with six colleges and is ranked in the top ten of public national schools in the country.
What We Like: Georgia Tech’s Center for Media Studies is an international model of the most innovative, transformative research into applied technology.
Degree: BS in Computational Media
Georgia Institute of Technology
2. University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Engineering offers a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Digital Media Design. UP’s game art degree has been designed from an interdisciplinary approach combing coursework from computer graphics, computer science and courses in fine art. Degree graduates from UP’s video game design degree have found rewarding jobs with Electronic Arts, Google, Pixar, and Dreamworks.
The University of Pennsylvania was established in 1740. It is considered a Colonial College, one of nine schools established before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and was founded on Benjamin Franklin’s concepts of Enlightenment science and reason. Its urban campus is home to nearly 21,600 students and more than 4,600 faculty members. UP holds the claim that it was the first institution of higher learning with both graduate and undergraduate programs in the country.
What We Like: As an interdisciplinary program, Penn’s DMD program puts an emphasis on the kind of overlap and collaboration that defines modern media and game development.
Degree: BSE in Digital Media Design
3. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Interactive Media & Game Development degree program is offered as either a Bachelor of Arts degree or a Bachelor of Science degree. The Bachelor of Arts in Game Design offers emphasis paths in animations, technical artistry and sculpting, and design. The BS degree program takes a more in-depth look at computer game development from the perspectives of computer science, art, math, English, and music. WPI’s students compete in national gaming events and build game systems to meet course requirements.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute was established in 1865. This private institution of higher learning focuses on the education of technical research and applied sciences. WPI is considered one of the first engineering institutions of higher learning in the nation. The school’s suburban campus is located in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ 2nd largest city, Worcester.
What We Like: Among WPI’s many research initiatives, some of their most admirable work improves math education for children using smartphones and games.
Degree: BA or BS in Interactive Media & Game Development
Worcester Polytechnic Institute’
4. University of Southern California
The University of Southern California’s video game design degree programs offers either a Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Design or a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (Games). The Bachelor of Arts in Game Design program is offered through the Cinematic Arts School. The Bachelor of Science program is available through Viterbi School of Engineering. The game art degree programs required the completion of 128 credit units, which includes USC’s core curriculum required for all baccalaureate degree programs.
The University of Southern California was established in 1880 and holds the distinction as a sea grant and space grant university. It holds the distinction as the oldest private research institutions of higher learning in the state and the largest private employer for the city of Los Angeles. USC has played a major part in developing Southern California into the entertainment center of the world, and programs feed into Hollywood, the music industry, and the tech industry – including, of course, video gaming.
What We Like: With its location and reputation, USC is able to provide students with mentorship from some of the top players in the video game industry – and access to career-making internships and jobs.
Degree: BA in Interactive Design or BS in Computer Science – Games
University of Southern California
5. North Carolina State University
North Carolina State University’s BS in Computer Science degree includes an emphasis in Game Development, from one of the South’s most renowned engineering schools. Students explore the historical, technological, and scientific fundamentals required to develop computer gaming programs and serious educational programs. NC State’s video game design degree requires degree candidates to complete 121 credit hours of core curriculum and video game design coursework.
North Carolina State University was established in 1887 under the Morrill Land Grant Act. It holds the distinction of being a flagship Land Grant, Sea Grant, and Space Grant public institution of higher learning. NC State’s 2,100+-acre urban campus is home to more than 35,000 students and 2,300+ faculty members. NC State operates with twelve colleges/academic divisions. The school is recognized as a “more selective” school with a 46% acceptance rate for the incoming class of 2019.
What We Like: NCSU’s Computer Science Department was one of the first in the nation, and helped shape the Research Triangle – and those connections make sure NCSU computer science graduates have their pick of jobs.
Degree: BS in Computer Science – Game Development
North Carolina State University
6. University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin’s BS in Computer Science with a Game Development Concentration degree program is one of the best gaming programs in the world, and it’s about to get better. In 2020, UT Austin will offer a brand-new video game design degree – a BS in Arts & Entertainment Technologies. UT Austin’s new cutting-edge game art degree program is offered in partnership with the school’s Department of Computer Science with the Department of Arts & Entertainment technologies. Animation Career Review recognizes UT Austin’s game design program among the top 10 offered by public institutions of higher learning.
The University of Texas at Austin was established in 1883 and is the flagship university of Texas. It is also a member school of the University of Texas system. In the 21st century, Austin has seen massive growth as a leading tech hub, with major events like SXSW and an influx of startups and major corporations bringing international attention.
What We Like: Only California has more video game studios than Texas – and Austin has more career opportunities in game development than anywhere else in the state.
Degree: BS in Computer Science – Game Development Concentration
7. Northeastern University
The College of Arts, Media and Design offer Northeastern University’s BFA in Game Art & Animation degree program. NU’s Khoury College of Computer Sciences offers a BS in Computer Science/Game Development. Northeastern’s video game design degree programs prepare students to excel at visual arts in game production through rigorous coursework and cooperative work experience. The Bachelor of Science degree option requires the completion of 133 credit units and a cooperative experience/internship in order to graduate. Career opportunities include web design, interaction design, and design entrepreneur, among others.
Northeastern University was established in 1898. Northeastern University operates from several campuses in the city of Boston. These include the campuses of Fenway-Kenmore, Back Bay, South End, and Roxbury; where more than 25,000 students. NU offers a renowned cooperative program to its students, which coordinates full-time study with hands-on work experience.
What We Like: Northeastern’s Khoury College’s cooperative education program makes sure every student gets hands-on experience, and more than two-thirds are already employed at graduation.
Degree: BFA in Game Art and Animation or BS in Computer Science/Game Development
8. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s BS in Games & Simulation Arts/Sciences (GSAS) degree program comes from the renowned Hass School of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences. RPI’s video game design degree requires the completion of 128 credit units of coursework to graduate. Coursework includes Data Structures, Calculus for Architecture, Game Storytelling, Additionally; degree candidates are required to complete a GSAS Research Project. The game art degree offers several concentrations – Computer Science, Cognitive Science, Writing, Electronic Arts, Management, and Music.
The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was established in 1824. It is a private space coast institution of higher learning in Troy with two additional satellite campuses in Groton and Hartford, CT. RPI operates with five colleges/schools further divided into nearly 40 departments. RPI’s 250+-acre urban campus overlooks the Hudson River and is home to nearly 8,000 students. The schools include Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences, Management and Technology, Engineering, Architecture, and Science.
What We Like: The Hass School has pioneered digital humanities and stands as an international model of interdisciplinary learning and research.
Degree: BS in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
9. Michigan State University
Michigan State University’s BA in Media & Information allows students the opportunity to explore the many ways to transform the power of the media using computer science tools to design powerful messages. MSU’s Bachelor of Arts in Game Design degree requires the completion of 120 credit units divided between MSU’s core baccalaureate requirements and the game art degree requirements. Michigan State University video design program requires the completion of a capstone project from more than ten offered capstone courses.
Michigan State University was established in 1855 as the result of the Morrill Land Act. MSU holds the distinction of being one of the first institutions of higher learning to offer scientific agriculture education. Michigan State University’s 10,000-acre campus is home to more than 50,000 students and more than 12,000 staff and faculty. The campus includes a Cyclotron Lab, a Planetarium, a Botanical Garden and Performing Arts Center.
What We Like: MSU is home to some of the most cutting-edge labs in the field, including the Behavior Information Technology (BIT) Lab and the Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab.
Degree: BA in Media and Information
10. Indiana University
Indiana University Bloomington’s (IU) Media School offers a BS in Game Design degree program. IU’s video game design degree prepares graduates to create engaging designs that can be used to teach or entertain the world. Coursework covers topics that include design & production, game production, art & sound, game theory strategies, all while staying current with emerging design technologies. Students of the IU’s Media School are required to participate in a 3-semester team-related workshop with the objective to build from prototype to publishing, a fully functioning game.
Indiana University was established in 1820. IU operates across nine campuses throughout the state of Indiana. The combined student enrollment for Indiana University exceeds 100,000 students. IU’s Bloomington campus is home to nearly half the school’s entire enrollment and is considered the flagship campus of the university.
What We Like: GameDev@IU is a student-run club open to all students who are interested in game design, not just majors; students learn new skills and develop games for fun and enrichment.
Degree: BS in Game Design
11. University of California, Irvine
The BS in Game Science at University of California, Irvine’s Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences is a video game design degree exploring the world of game design from several perspectives – Gaming, Computer Science, and Math. Degree graduates in the UC Irvine Game Science program build several complete video games throughout the standard curriculum. Students can opt for a focus on mobile games, modeling, and world-building within the game art degree program. Coursework culminates with a capstone game project, with summer internships available.
The University of California, Irvine was established in 1965. It is one of the ten members schools organized under the University of California system. Along with others in the UC system (arguably the finest public university system in the world), UC Irvine holds the distinction as being considered a Public Ivy school. UC Irvine’s 1,500+-acre campus is home to more than 35,000 students and more than 11,000 staff/faculty.
What We Like: In recent years, Irvine has emerged as a tech hub, drawing on connections to Silicon Valley and building a reputation for entrepreneurship – all of which means job-market success for graduates.
Degree: BS in Computer Game Science
University of California, Irvine
12. New York University
The world-class Tisch School of the Arts offers NYU’s BFA in Game Design degree program. NYU’s Bachelor of Arts in Game Design program is designed to provide each student an in-depth look of video game design from a cultural, technological, and design-lensed perspective. The game design program offers flexibility as students have the option to design a schedule that suits meet their time needs. New York University’s BFE Game Design degree culminates with a 2-semester project; with a team or as an independent project.
New York University was established in 1831. Historically, the school’s campus began in Greenwich Village, located on the western portion of downtown Manhattan, and for nearly two centuries has helped set the cultural and intellectual pace for the city. NYU is recognized among the top international universities by several relevant education publications.
What We Like: NYU offers the best of both worlds, art/design and tech; the Tisch School of the Arts is one of the foremost names in art and design, and the NYU Game Center is a center for the industry and research.
Degree: BFA in Game Design
13. Bradley University
Bradley University’s Slane College of Communications & Fine Arts offers several game art degree programs. These include a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation and Game Design, a Bachelor of Science in Interactive Media, and a Bachelor of Science in Game Design. Each baccalaureate degree programs offers degree candidates various minors like Animation, Interactive Media, and the Design of User Experiences. Bradley University’s game art degree program requires the completion of 124 credit hours. Coursework includes Game Production, Interactive Theories, Concepts and Practices, and Critical Game Studies, among others. Academic requirements include a capstone project before graduation.
Lydia Moss Bradley, a local philanthropist, established Bradley University in 1897. Bradley University’s 80+acre urban campus is home to more than 4,350 students studying from five schools that offer 100+ undergraduate degrees and another 30+graduate program. Bradley University is one of the first institutions of higher learning in the country to offer an independent school dedicated to innovation and the art of entrepreneurship.
What We Like: Bradley University was built on technology and business, and students in Bradley’s video game development programs have some of the most state-of-the-art labs and studios in the nation.
Degree: BFA in Animation & Game Design, BS in Game Design, or BS in Interactive Media
14. University of Texas at Dallas
The University of Texas at Dallas BA in Arts Technology & Emerging Communication (ATEC) provides students with an educational pathway that focuses on Games. This video game design degree allows students to explore the required critical thinking and artistic approach to understand how game players learn from games and how games perpetuate social constructs. Degree candidates learn their craft in cutting-edge on-campus studios and labs.
The University of Texas at Dallas was established in 1969 and is a member school of the University of Texas System. UT Dallas’ nearly 500-acre main campus is less than 20 miles from downtown Dallas. The school was originally a research extension of the famed tech company, Texas Instruments (TI) known as the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies. At TI’s bequest, the school was given to the state of Texas to establish a tech-centered research university in the booming city.
What We Like: If it wasn’t obvious enough, UT Dallas knows technology, and the massive Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area provides graduates access to Fortune 500 companies and some of the top tech startups in the US.
Degree: BA in Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication – Games concentration
15. New Jersey Institute of Technology
The New Jersey Institute of Technology’s (NJIT) Ying Wu College of Computing/College of Architecture & Design offers a trio of multidisciplinary video game design degree programs — the Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design, Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, or a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Each game art degree pulls from the IT and design disciplines in a collaborative effort to teach game production, design, and programming. NJIT’s game development program’s coursework includes Game History, 2D and 3D Game Engine Programming, and Virtual Reality, among others.
The New Jersey Institute of Technology was established in 1881 as a public research institution of higher learning. NJIT is a polytechnic university with a 50-acre campus in downtown Newark. NJIT’s urban campus is located less than one-half hour to Manhattan by public transport. The New Jersey Institute of Technology is a Sea Grant university.
What We Like: NJIT’s interdisciplinary programs give students the freedom to adapt and grow without being narrowly defined – a value in the ever-changing tech industry.
Degree: Multidisciplinary program: BA in Digital Design, BS in Information Technology, or BS in Computer Science
New Jersey Institute of Technology
16. Stony Brook University (SUNY)
Stony Brook University’s BS in Game Programming degree program, from the College of Engineering & Applied Sciences, also offers an accelerated option where students can earn their BS/MS in only five years. SUNY Stony Brook’s video game design degree requires students to complete coursework that includes Computer Graphics, Scripting Languages, Computational Geometry, and Security Fundamentals. Additionally, degree graduates must also complete one of three final projects – Senior Honors Research Project, Research in Computer Science or Internship I Computer Science.
Stony Brook University is a member school of the State University of New York system. It was established in 1957 and is a space-grant and sea-grant university. SUNY Stony Brook is the largest employer in all of Long island, NY. The school’s 1,000+-acre suburban campus is home to more than 26,000 students. Stony Brook is a member of the Brookhaven National Laboratory’s (a nuclear reactor) management team.
What We Like: Stony Brook’s Department of Computer Science has played a definitive role in the development of computer technology, and continues to innovate in research and learning.
Degree: BS in Game Programming
17. University of Utah
The University of Utah’s BS in Games degree program is part of the innovative Entertainment Arts & Engineering (EAE) Interdisciplinary Teaching Program. U of U’s game art degree brings an interdisciplinary approach to the art of game design — film studies and computing. Students graduate prepared to enter the fields of software design and development, game learning environments, and/or the development of digital healthcare tools for society in general. U of U’s video game design degree requires the completion of 121 credit units to graduate.
The University of Utah was established in 1850 and is currently flagship institution of higher learning for the state of Utah and a space grant university. The school’s 1,500+-acre campus is only two miles to downtown Salt Lake City and home to nearly 32,000 students. U of U operates with seventeen colleges/schools that offer programs through nearly 155 departments.
What We Like: UU’s Entertainment Arts and Engineering (EAE) Interdisciplinary Teaching Program is a model of contemporary tech education, combining expertise from many fields to practical application.
Degree: BS in Games
18. Quinnipiac University
Quinnipiac University’s Bachelor of Arts in Game Design prepares students to enter the design facets of gaming, virtual reality, educational tools, and even the world of eSports. Quinnipiac University’s, according to the Princeton Review, is recognized among the top game design international programs. Students are prepared to enter the game design field as a usability tester, a designer, and or writer.
Quinnipiac University is a private institution of higher learning that was established in 1929. It was born out of a need created when Northeastern University abandoned its local programs. Quinnipiac University operates from two campuses, in Hamden and North Haven, CT. The New Haven campus is home to the renowned Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. Quinnipiac’s total student enrollment is approximately 9,000.
What We Like: Quinnipiac’s 2016 graduating Game Design class had a 100% placement rate for jobs, graduate school, or starting their own company within 6 months.
Degree: BA in Game Design and Development
19. Marist College
The Department of Computing Technology offers Marist College’s BS in Games & Emerging Media degree program that delves deeply into the design and creation of games through various emerging media options. Degree graduates for Marist’s video game design degree select from three dedicated concentrations: Design, Writing & Culture, and Technical Development & programming. Marist’s game art degree requires the completion of 120 credit units. Marist game design students have the opportunity to participate in the Play Innovation Lab.
The Marist Brothers established Marist College in 1929. The Marist Brokers are a religious brotherhood affiliated with the Catholic Religion. Marist College’s campus sits along the eastern banks of the Hudson River. The school operates study sites across the work in more than 25 countries and a branch campus in Italy. Marist College formed an early partnership with the nearby business giant IBM; who provided impressive equipment and software contributions.
What We Like: Marist’s Play Innovation Lab gives students a space to put their design and development skills to use for fun, from designing board games to programming mobile apps.
Degree: BS in Games and Emerging Media
20. University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida offers a BA in Digital Media-Game Design concentration. UCF’s game art degree is recognized by the Princeton Review & Kiplinger’s as one of the country’s best value institution of higher learning. Additionally, Forbes Magazine considers the University of Central Florida as one of the country’s most affordable universities. Students who plan to move on to a graduate video game design degree at UCF should know that UCF’s graduate game development degree program is ranked first in the world.
The University of Central Florida was established in 1963 as a state university called Florida Technology University. UCF holds the distinction of having more students enrolled on campus than any other institution of higher learning in the nation. UCF’s main suburban campus is more than 1,400-acres and home to more than 68,400 students. It is a space-grant university, being located only 34 miles from Florida’s Space Coast.
What We Like: One of the most diverse schools in the US – with half of the students identifying as minority – UCF is helping increase diversity in the video game industry as well.
Degree: BA in Digital Media – Game Design
21. Rochester Institute of Technology
The Rochester Institute of Technology’s cutting-edge School of Interactive Games & Media offers a BS in Game Design and Development. Students who graduate from RIT’s game art degree program are prepared for rewarding careers in the many facets of the professional gaming industry. These include specialties in visualization, simulation, and digital educational tools. Applicants possessing pre-approved associate degrees (i.e. engineering science, liberal arts or computer science) will receive transfer credits as earned. Students have the option of earning their undergraduate and graduate degrees in an accelerated fashion, if academically eligible.
The Rochester Institute of Technology is a private institution of higher learning that was established in 1829. RIT was created as the result of the merger between the Rochester Athenaeum and the Mechanics Institute. Students estimated that RIT’s Brick City campus, built primarily of brick, contained over 14,600,000 bricks. The school’s nine colleges provide degrees to nearly 20,000 students each year.
What We Like: RIT students do at least two blocks of cooperative education, taking full-time, paid jobs with corporate partners to hone their skills in real life.
Degree: BS in Game Design and Development
Rochester Institute of Technology
22. Drexel University
The renowned Westphal College of Media Arts & Design offers Drexel University’s BS in Game Design & Production that is recognized among the top four national games programs by the Princeton Review. The curriculum includes a vigorous dive into the many specializations within the realm of digital media. Additionally, video game design degree candidates must also complete a half-year cooperative project to graduate. The coop project is the backdrop upon which students can apply their newly acquired skill-set in the industry of their choice.
Drexel University was established in 1891. It is a private research institution of higher learning founded by the renowned businessman/philanthropist Anthony Drexel. Drexel’s urban campus is located in the City of Brotherly Love, and home to nearly 24,400 students. Drexel University offers students a cooperative educational opportunity by working in his or her field of interest while earning their degree.
What We Like: Drexel’s extensive government and private industry connections give students the opportunity to work on real projects and initiatives for an in-depth experience.
Degree: BS in Game Design & Production
23. University of Wisconsin-Stout
The University of Wisconsin-StoutGame Design and Development program has received accreditation from the National Association for Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). UW-Stout offers both a BFA in Game Design and Development or a BS in Computer Science-Game Design and Development. UW-Stout’s uniquely interdisciplinary program explores technical and artistic approaches to gaming, education, and training content. Courses are entirely project focused, allowing our students to develop key skills in communication with different areas in game production.
The University of Wisconsin-Stout is a state institution of higher learning that was established in 1891. UW-Stout’s 120+-acre rural campus is home to nearly 9,500 students. The school operates with three colleges the College of Arts, Communication, Humanities and Social Sciences, the College of Education, Hospitality, Health Y Human Sciences, and the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics & Management.
What We Like: NASAD accreditation is the highest standard in design education, giving students the assurance that their credentials will be recognized anywhere.
Degree: BFA or BS in Game Design and Development
24. University of Denver
The Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science offers the University of Denver’s BA in Game Development. DU’s Bachelor of Arts in Game Design coursework integrates the disciplines of art and computer programming. Degree graduates earn their degree by exploring the role of 3D texturing and modeling using virtual angling techniques. Programming coursework explores scoring methods and animation. DU’s game art design program requires the completion of a Capstone project — each student will build, debug and create a complete working digital game.
The University of Denver was established in 1864 and holds the distinction as the oldest private university that operates independently in the Rocky Mountain area of the country. The school’s 120+-acre arboretum-type campus is located approximately five miles from the hustle and bustle of Denver’s downtown. DU consistently ranks among the top national universities, according to US News.
What We Like: Minority students are given the support they need by the Ritchie School’s Equality in STEM, National Society of Black Engineering, and Society of Women Engineers organizations.
Degree: BA in Game Development
25. University of California, Santa Cruz
The University of California, Santa Cruz Jack Baskin School of Engineering offers a BS in Computer Game Design and a BA in Art & Design-Games & Playable Media. The BS game art degree combines the fields of computer science, music, and art in the creation of computer games. The BA game art degree requires the completion of a 12-month game project managed in a team environment. Princeton Review recognizes the UCSC game design program among the top 18 programs in the country.
The University of California, Santa Cruz is one of ten member schools of the University of California system. The school’s 2,000-acre campus is located along the Pacific Coast, less than 80 miles from San Francisco. Nearly 20,000 students attend classes along UCSC’s rolling hills that overlook Monterey Bay.
What We Like: In addition to the Center for Games & Playable Media, UC Santa Cruz offers one major advantage for game design students – the San Francisco Bay Area.
Degree: BS in Computer Game Design or BA in Art & Design: Games and Playable Media
University of California, Santa Cruz
How Do I Become a Game Designer or Developer?
Video game designer education requirements depend on the standards of the gaming company. You cen become a game designer with a high school diploma or first-year experience. Until recently there was no bachelor of game design, and few designers start with a video game design bachelor’s degree. While specific details may vary based on the company, you can expect game designer qualifications to focus on your education, as well as a portfolio demonstrating your real-world skills in action. A bachelor’s degree in game design or game development will assist with your long-term career goals.
In some cases, employers look for specialized video game designer training through certification programs as well as traditional degree programs. The key to any work in video game design or development is game design skills. You need to develop the programming skills to create the digital world involved in video games. Graphic design courses are also key. A specialized degree in game design will help you start your career by learning the specific skills involved in creating a video game, like level design and multimedia design. Programming degrees with a focus on game design or game development will also improve your opportunities by ensuring you have the skills to develop a game. The best degree for game design may not even be called a “bachelor’s degree in video game design.”
What Does a Video Game Designer or Developer Do?
Video game professionals take on different roles based on their specific interests and goals. A video game designer focuses on the creative aspects of the video game. For example, they draw out the characters and design the appearance of the surrounding environment. Video game professionals on the design side take on the creative tasks with a focus on story, quests, character development, and the design elements of the game.
A video game developer focuses on the practical aspects of the video game. They work as programmers to breathe life into the characters, settings, and artistic vision of the game designer. While some video game professionals take on a mixture of both roles, you should be aware that in most companies, a designer is not the same as a developer. One focuses on creative aspects to the gaming experience while the other focuses on the programming aspects. Both jobs play a significant role in the final outcome of the game, so you will want to evaluate your options before you decide on the path that fits your personal interests.
What Makes a Good Video Game Development Program?
When you decide to focus your education on the best video game design colleges, you want to make sure that you find the best colleges for video game design for your goals. The best game design colleges have specific advantages over colleges without a video game design major.
The top game design colleges have greater technological tools for students in the classroom. They offer computer labs with up-to-date technology and computers. Video game design schools help students learn the basic programming skills they need for a successful career in game design and development. Game development colleges also have experienced teachers who have worked in game design and know the industry. They teach students from their own experiences and skills.
You also want to look for schools with internship programs or access to jobs within the industry. The best programs offer hands-on experience to help students develop their skills and handle the tasks associated with game design. You do not want to focus on programs or schools that have limited opportunities to work with professionals in the industry.
Finding the right video game design college or program depends on your goals for your career. When you want to work in game design, you need an understanding of the creative aspects of the gaming experience. You need to develop the story and characters of the game. Going into game development requires the technical skills to focus on programming. You want a college or program that offers advanced education in technical skills as well as hands-on experience through internships and mentorship programs.
Some of the other biggest names include Full Sail, Savannah College of Art and Design, and Digipen Institute of Technology.
15 Best Online Game Design Degree Bachelor’s Programs
10 Fastest Online Game Design Degree Bachelor’s Programs
10 Most Affordable Game Design Degree Bachelor Programs
15 Best Online Training and Development Programs
Find A Bachelor Degree
Which college has the best game design program? ›
The University of Southern California game design program ranks the best in the US. It offers two bachelor's degrees and two master's degree programs that prepare students for a future in game design. The Interactive Media and Game design program are offered through the school of Cinematic Arts.What undergraduate degree is best for game design? ›
- Computer Science. One of the best degrees for a gaming career is computer science. ...
- Video Game Programming and Development. ...
- Computer Animation. ...
- Interactive Media Design and Game Art. ...
- Software Engineering. ...
- Computer Engineering. ...
- Sound Production. ...
- Graphic Design.
Most video game designers have a bachelor's degree in graphic design, multimedia design or a related field. Some universities offer a degree specifically for video game design. Coursework usually includes software engineering, 2D and 3D animation, programming languages and computer design.Is a BA in game design good? ›
Yes, a bachelors in game design is worth it for many students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting an employment growth in computer systems design and related services, specifically 22% in the applications software development industry over the next 10 years.Is game design a hard major? ›
Game design is hard because of the amount of disciplines one needs to learn in order to complete a game. These disciplines can include but are not limited to art, programming, music production, video editing for trailers, and marketing.Does game design pay well? ›
Video game designer salaries range from $50,000 (entry-level jobs) to $100,000+ per year (senior/lead designers).What should I study if I want to be a game developer? ›
- Computer Games Programming.
- Computer Games (development or design)
- Games Technology.
- Computer Science.
- Software Engineering.
Number of Credits and GPA
The Bachelor of Arts in Game Design requires completion of at least 129 semester credits with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or better. The program usually spans eight semesters of fifteen weeks each, or four academic years.
The world of video game design is not for those who simply love to play video games. It is a complex science that has become one of the nation's most popular college majors. VGD combines artistic talent with high mathematics and computer programming ability.What is a game design degree called? ›
These include a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation and Game Design, a Bachelor of Science in Interactive Media, and a Bachelor of Science in Game Design. Each baccalaureate degree programs offers degree candidates various minors like Animation, Interactive Media, and the Design of User Experiences.
Are game designers in high demand? ›
Career Outlook for Video Game Designers
Market researchers project the global video game industry to grow by 73.8% from 2020-2027.
About the Major
The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Game Design & Development will provide undergraduate students with the design and development skills necessary to create virtual interactive environments that span across devices and platforms.
- Computer programmer.
- Video game tester.
- Technical writer.
- Game designer.
- Marketing manager.
- Audio engineer.
- Creative director.
- Technical director.
In some cases, aspiring designers may substitute a degree for coding skills learned through a bootcamp. Technical skills are important for landing a job in video game design. Employers require knowledge of programming languages — such as C++ and C# — and game design engines like Unity and Unreal Engine.Can game designers make 6 figures? ›
According to the platform's calculations, video game designers make a median annual salary of $85,943 per year, and those with more than nine years of experience can easily earn six-figure salaries.Who gets paid more game designer or developer? ›
Game Designers and Developers Salaries.
|Job Title||Average Annual Salary|
While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $156,000 and as low as $35,000, the majority of GAME Developer salaries currently range between $83,500 (25th percentile) to $124,500 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $147,500 annually across the United States.Do you need a portfolio for game design college? ›
Applicants to the BA in Game Design program are required to submit a portfolio that displays previously created works and the process used to create them. This work may be in any medium or platform and is not limited to games.Do game designers need computer science? ›
Game designers come from many backgrounds: programming, art, animation, production, and in rare instances even music and audio. It helps (a lot) to understand how computers work and what they can, and above all, can't, do. But you don't actually need a CS degree.What are the 4 types of video game designers? ›
There are multiple kinds of job titles for game design including lead designer, content designers, game mechanic designers, level designers, and writers. Each of these job titles in game design contribute something unique to the overall game design team.
Is game design an IT field? ›
Game design is a field with a broad focus. As such, the skills of a game designer are drawn from the fields of computer science and programming, creative writing and graphic design.What is the highest pay for a game designer? ›
What is the highest salary for a Game Designer in India? Highest salary that a Game Designer can earn is ₹30.9 Lakhs per year (₹2.6L per month).What is the highest paying job in game development? ›
- Game Designers. Plots, situations, and characters are created by video game designers. ...
- Quality Assurance Testers. ...
- Game Developers. ...
- Game Programmer. ...
- Game Artist. ...
- Game Animators. ...
- Lead Designers.
Game Designer Age Breakdown
Interestingly enough, the average age of game designers is 40+ years old, which represents 60% of the population.
Game design is a STEM-related career and draws on key scientific and technological concepts. The field also relies on design principles explored in the fine arts.Is there a BS in esports? ›
BS Esports is offered in LPU Manila under two tracks: Esports Management and Game Design and Development. This four-year course is introduced with subjects such as Introduction to Esports and Esports Broadcasting and granted along with an additional diploma for Associate in Computer Technology.How much do Sony game designers make? ›
How much does a Video Game Designer make at PlayStation in the United States? Average PlayStation Video Game Designer hourly pay in the United States is approximately $38.99, which is 188% above the national average.Can you make a living as a game designer? ›
On average, board game designers make between $56,000-$113,000 a year. A board game designer with less than 1 year's experience makes between $42,000-$87,000. With 7-14 year's experience, a board game designer can expect to earn between $51,000-$113,000.Which is better game designer or game developer? ›
Video game design and video game development are not terribly different. The former revolves around what the game might look and feel like while the latter focuses on how to develop the game. Game designers are the visionaries of the video game; game developers turn the vision into reality.What skills does a game designer need? ›
- Artistic vision.
- A passion for video games.
- Storytelling ability.
- Wide-ranging knowledge of gaming trends.
- Strong analytical frame of mind.
- Excellent programming skills.
- Ability to work as part of a team.
What qualifications do you need to be a game designer? ›
You'll usually need an IT qualification or some relevant work experience. Employers will be interested in your talent and creativity. You may also find it helps to have A levels or a diploma in relevant subjects like computing or media production.Where is the best place to be a game designer? ›
|Total Video Game Designer Jobs:||711|
|Location Quotient:||1.73 You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here|
- Game Design and Development with Unity 2020: Michigan State University.
- C# Programming for Unity Game Development: University of Colorado System.
- C++ Programming for Unreal Game Development: University of Colorado System.
- University of Southern California Cinematic Arts. Los Angeles, California. ...
- New York University Game Center. ...
- Southern Methodist University Guildhall. ...
- Drexel University Antoinette Westphal. ...
- Rochester Institute of Technology. ...
- Full Sail University. ...
- DigiPen Institute of Technology. ...
- Clark University.
Number of Credits and GPA
The Bachelor of Arts in Game Design requires completion of at least 129 semester credits with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or better.
The States with the Largest Gaming Communities, Ranked Largest to Smallest.
You could work on a game's technical foundation as a Game Programmer, or work the artistic angle as an Animator, 3D Modeler, or Game Script Writer. If you're drawn to business, you could discover what gamers really want as a Marketing Analyst, or promote new releases as a Sales Rep.How many years does it take to become a game designer? ›
Online degree programs for video game design typically require students to earn 120 credits for a bachelor's. Most bachelor's degrees in game design take about four years to complete.