If you have been playing new or classic video games for any amount of time, chances are you have been impressed by some of the visuals and game mechanics. With each passing year, it seems gaming becomes more realistic and grows in popularity.
The gaming industry now compared to its infancy is a stark contrast; video games create billions of dollars in business annually these days. Gaming has become a staple of pop culture that has carved itself a cozy corner in digital media and the interactive media landscape.
If you are a hardcore gamer at heart or are interested in the process of making games, (and to be frank, who isn’t?), then you might be pleasantly surprised to find out that you can enroll in a degree program where students learn the ins and outs of game design.
Game Design Degrees and Where to Earn One
Online learning has really grown by leaps and bounds in the past five years alone. Where once you could get a degree in a smattering of classes at an online wing of a college’s curriculum, you can now earn your bachelor’s of arts or bachelor’s of science in things like web development, cybersecurity, arts and animation and game design fully online.
If you take a breather from your favorite game for a few minutes, we can tell you the basics of a good game design degree and the best game design schools.
Do you want to earn a spot at a major gaming company like Ubisoft or Sony? A game design degree could very well be your ticket there. So how do you get one? What do you need to break through into the industry?
Some Basics to Consider
Chances are, you will need a degree of some sort, preferably a bachelor’s to start with. If you are fortunate enough to nab a master’s degree, it’s all but guaranteed that you will turn heads at some bigger studios.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that many related fields like game arts and entertainment require a bachelor’s degree as their benchmark. Again, as with many degrees, it depends on the company who is doing the hiring.
If you have an associate’s degree or maybe some certifications, the best thing you could do is work, work, work.
Work experience and different opportunities presented to you throughout your time at school or during your free time will play a big part in the hiring process at many companies, big or small.
If you have a knockout resume, filled with personal and professional projects, whether they be freelance or a capstone course from school, these will be your saving grace in landing a job in the gaming industry.
Let’s now explore the best gaming degree schools.
Top 5 Game Design Schools
- Full Sail University
Full Sail University is a school in Florida that is great for artists of every stripe. Whether it is music or game design, the school places a heavy emphasis on the arts.
Full Sail prepares students to succeed in the world of gaming and game design by offering solid courses in the field. Let’s look at some.
Online Game Design Undergraduate Certificate
Perfect for those who don’t want to commit to a larger batch of classes or who are supplementing another degree. Certifications can pad your resume and notify hiring managers and employers that you are well-versed in a certain program’s use. This is especially useful for programs like Maya and Photoshop.
Game Design Bachelor of Science
Full Sail offers some variety with their BS in Game Design. The prospective student has a choice between on-campus classes or online courses, with the two having different course schedules, naturally. The face-to-face campus experience will last around 20 months, while the online option takes about 29 months to complete. Here are some of the courses offered at Full Sail University:
- Game Mechanics
- Students will learn the ins and outs of thematic and pacing structures, as well as various ‘do’s and don’t’s’ of what makes a game run smoothly.
- Game Balancing
- Making sure that a game’s level design or story is well-paced is an art form in and of itself. Students will learn how to properly pace their game to make it an immersive experience for the player.
With Full Sail’s flexible enrollment, as well as fantastic class schedules, a student interested in game design can feel right at home here. This is definitely one of the top schools to consider in your search.
- Drexel University
Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has made various ‘best of’ lists when it comes to things like cybersecurity, computer science and more. So it comes as no surprise that they excel in more creative computer aspects as well.
Drexel’s game design program has received widespread acclaim, including from Microsoft to the Princeton Review. Let’s examine some of what they have to offer budding game developers.
- BS in Game Art and Production
This bachelor of science major focuses on the artistic aspects of game design. If you’re a big fan of concept art and designing the first stages of the way a level or character looks, this may very well be the major for you to consider.
- BS in Game Programming and Development
For those who excel in coding and programming, this video game-oriented major will definitely catch your fancy. If you are at all familiar with programming languages like Python, SQL, Ruby or Java, then this could be a fantastic option for you. This is geared toward those who want to really dig into the framework of what makes games run as they should.
- MS in Digital Media
That’s right: a master’s degree. While digital media isn’t exactly games, game design absolutely falls into its category. Earning a master’s in digital media will 100 percent give you a leg up on the competition if you’re job searching for video game design companies, as well as equip you to be a UI/UX designer and a software engineer. It will give you the advanced tools to succeed in the gaming industry, as well as nearly every other aspect of our ever-changing digital world.
Overall, Drexel University is continuously upping the ante, offering breathtaking options for students, including in-depth virtual reality exercises as well as a huge theatre dedicated to 3D viewings.
- Savannah College of Art and Design
The Savannah College of Art and Design is a famous college that caters to artistically-inclined students from all over the world. This is why it’s the perfect place for you to flex your game design muscles. E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, has recognized SCAD in its best college competition multiple times.
SCAD has a great acceptance rate, as well as a solid graduation rate. By the time a student has earned either of the degrees listed below, their portfolios will be bursting at the seams with impressive artistic work that will help with their job search.
- BA in Digital Media (game design concentration)
Like Drexel University, SCAD’s digital media degree is perfect for those who want to specialize in game design as well as other impressive artistic pursuits in the real world.
- BFA in Interactive Design and Game Development
This BFA specifically focuses on game design and development, making it the perfect option and probably the degree you should aim for at SCAD.
- University of Southern California
The University of Southern California is one of the premier schools in regard to digital design. They even have their own School of Cinematic Arts and School of Engineering, with both having impressive programs in game design and game design-related fields.
The Princeton Review recognizes it as one of the best institutions to earn video game-related degrees and digital knowledge.
- They offer the Interactive Media and Game Design program through their School of Cinematic Arts, known as SCA.
- The School of Engineering offers a Computer Science program, which is impressive on its own merit but also has a concentration on games.
- University of Utah
The University of Utah provides something that many schools don’t: a valuable internship program to bolster one’s resume and school record. The University of Utah ensures its student body is a diverse, determined and passionate group of students able to propel the video game and entertainment industries forward.
- BS in Games
The bachelor’s degree in games is described by the University of Utah as made for “students who aspire to hold careers within the professional games industry or a related field, such as simulation, edutainment, or visualization.” This program equips students with an impressive array of knowledge from educational games for K-12 students, as well as any related game media and design.
- Minor in Games
You can also earn a minor in games to bolster your existing major. You don’t need to have a main major in any subject related to game design, making this a perfect option for those who are interested in a career in games, but already have a certain academic path in mind.
- BS in Computer Science, Entertainment Arts and Engineering Emphasis
This stacked degree seems to contain nearly every significant component of digital design, programming and of course, entertainment. The aim of this loaded degree is to exhibit to potential employers that the student has what it takes to make it in nearly any entertainment industry.
Students will take classes like Object-Orient Programming, Digital Content Creation, Traditional Game Development and Models of Computation. This has to be one of the most exhaustive majors in terms of course variety and coverage. Anything having to do with computers, computing, algorithms and game design is covered.
Overall, the University of Utah has some of the most impressive classes and majors for nearly anyone who is interested in earning a game design degree, or anything having to do with digital entertainment.
While these schools are the absolute standouts in terms of game design degree potential for curious students, there are a ton of other schools that are continuously growing in digital entertainment by the semester.
Final Thoughts on Getting a Game Design Degree
Now you can see it’s entirely possible to earn a game design degree at a number of institutions, whether they be community colleges, online schools or full-on universities. Taking part in fantastic and impressive game designs is literally only clicks away.
And who knows, maybe you will be responsible for the next slew of world-changing games. Will you be a part of the team that creates the next Witcher or Fallout? What are you waiting for?
These schools and impressive majors (and minors) are waiting for you to explore what they have to offer. Stop dreaming of creating games and get to applying!