8 Free Game Design and Development Courses and Resources Online

See our list of the top free online game design and development courses. Learn about what courses are available and what topics they cover to find the course that's right for you.

Info on Free Online Courses in Game Design and Development

Game design and development involves various fields, from graphic design and programming, to math and probability. Some of the courses below have additional software requirements, but most of these software programs are free and can be downloaded through links on course websites. These free, online courses are self-paced and don't award grades or academic credit. Students also don't submit assignments.

Free Courses in Game Design

Blender 3D Design at Tufts University

This undergrad course at Tufts University trains students on how to use the Blender software for modeling and 3D animation, which can be used in game design. This free course includes lecture notes, project assignments, samples of other students' works and additional supplemental materials.

Students must have the free software program, Blender, downloaded to a computer; other recommended software includes Adobe Acrobat Reader, Python and a media player. As of December 2012, Tufts University is working on an updated course that covers a new version of Blender.

Computer Game Programming at Eastern Michigan University

This online course teaches students how to design, implement and test a 2D or 3D game. It's suggested that students have significant programming experience for this course. Some recommended readings may need to be purchased, and Visual C++ or other integrated development environment (IDE) software program is needed to do the assignments in the course. The course includes PDF lecture notes and homework, but instructor help isn't available with this free version of the course.

Computer Games and Simulations for Investigation and Education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

This free, non-credit course at MIT investigates how to design educational games and simulations. Students learn how to create board and video games, and are encouraged to complete a video game project. The course includes readings, assignments and related resources that include links to online games.

Game Design at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This online course, which was developed for undergrad and graduate students, looks at the design of non-electronic games. The course covers such card games, board games, sports and role-playing games through study materials, assignments and other resources. More than 30 audio lectures are available on topics such as strategy and skill, iterative design, prototyping, puzzles and the social function of games.

Game Design Tips from New Mexico State University (NMSU)

This roughly 11-minute video from the Learning Games Lab at NMSU provides an overview of how programmers can develop good educational games. The speaker covers topics that include game development on teams and game testing in this free, non-credit lecture.

GameMaker Tutorial at University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA)

UCLA offers a free tutorial to train students to create a simple game in GameMaker, which is available for free download within the tutorial. The website walks learners through a step-by-step process of programming a game that makes balls bounce inside a box until they break the walls to escape. This is a self-directed tutorial and no credits are awarded.

Instructional Games at Utah State University

Through looking at existing products and current research, this course examines the field of educational games. Students study the academic benefits of video games and ways to assess the value of educational games. Some topics include instructional game design, games in schools and simulations. The free course provides lectures and readings, as well as an assigned game design project.

The Mathematics in Toys and Games at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

During this free, non-credit undergrad course at MIT, students study game theory through subjects such as probability and basic programming. Students learn how to use math skills to devise games through readings, lecture notes, homework and completed sample projects.

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