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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.

Tufts University

  • Blender 2.6x - 3D 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.

Eastern Michigan University

  • Computer Game Programming 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.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

  • Computer Games and Simulations for Investigation and Education 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 was developed for undergrad and graduate students, looking 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.
  • The Mathematics in Toys and Games covers 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.

New Mexico State University (NMSU)

  • Game Design 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.

University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA)

  • GameMaker Tutorial trains students to create a simple game. 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.

Utah State University

  • Instructional Games 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.

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