Online Colleges with Video Game Design Degrees: How to Choose

Online bachelor's degree programs in graphics design or digital media and master's degree programs in animation or digital effects can prepare students for a career in video game design. Online programs are available at public and private schools.

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When choosing an online video game design school, read through the program specifications carefully to ensure that it will be adequate for your needs. Certain hardware, software and other technical requirements may be necessary in order to complete this program via distance learning.

How to Select an Online Video Game Design School

There are a number of online programs that offer training for prospective video game designers. Students should consider the award level with the technical requirements when selecting a school.

Award Level

Professionals in the field of video game design use advanced animation and website design programs to create interactive, digital animation. They also provide art direction throughout the duration of a project. The most popular degree for professionals interested in video game design and animation fields is a bachelor's degree in video game design or animation. Students interested in gaining additional training, such as familiarizing with the latest software while developing a strong portfolio of creative work, should consider enrolling in a related master's degree program.

Technical Requirements

Online video game design programs generally don't require on-campus attendance. Distance-learning students interact using Web-based platforms that include live-streaming content, virtual classrooms, online conferencing and pre-recorded lectures.

In order to participate in online programs, candidates need regular access to a PC or Mac computer with a current Internet browser. It's recommended that students have a strong Internet connection, DVD-ROM and enough memory to support the transmission of large media files like the 3-D animation content necessary to their field of study. Some graphic design programs require students to purchase additional design software such as Adobe Photoshop, Maya and Illustrator.

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List of Common Online Video Game Design Programs

Online Bachelor's Degree in Game Art and Design

This 4-year program prepares students to work in the field of interactive media and video game design. Participants begin training by taking core courses in fine arts, theory and post-production design as well as online courses in the humanities, such as American literature, sociology and history. During their second year of study, students learn to master the software and tools used in video game design through coursework and projects. Graduates are fluent in design software and walk away with a portfolio of work that showcases their range of abilities. Course topics include:

  • 2D and 3D graphics
  • Computer animation techniques
  • Texture and lighting
  • Motion studies

Online Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media with a Concentration in Interactive Design

This baccalaureate program provides a liberal arts core in the humanities, communication and design. It also covers the basics of any fine art degree such as art history, theory and methods. Students undertake guided studio time and learn to master media design and animation software and tools.

A significant amount of class time is devoted to improving the individual technique through close student-teacher interaction. Successful completion of the program includes course completion, demonstrable proficiency with design programs and a strong portfolio of work. During the studio courses, which can be taken online or on-campus, students learn skills such as:

  • Digital design aesthetics
  • Motion in animation
  • 3D modeling
  • Game art and design
  • Programming

Online Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Animation & Visual Effects

An MFA program focuses on creative development and professional studio practice. Over the 2-year course of study, students develop a strong portfolio of work while experimenting with new techniques and software. They review and expand on principles and techniques learned in an undergraduate degree program by working on creative projects in a supportive and creatively challenging environment.

Graduate students master advanced animation techniques such as creating expressions and optimizing rendering techniques. They may study traditional animation techniques by working with software to master lighting and the effective use of a green screen. Graduates gain a professional portfolio of work and an advanced working knowledge of modern, professional tools and computer programs. Course topics include:

  • Storyboarding
  • Creating animatics
  • Preproduction principles
  • Animation history

Schools with Online Programs Video Game Design

The Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design offers an online bachelor's program in video game art that gives students the technological and artistic tools to design their own games and find work within the industry. Applicants must submit a portfolio as part of the admissions process which should include around 10-15 pieces of work and a short artist statement.

At the Savannah College of Art and Design, students can enroll in online interactive design and game development degree programs at both the bachelor's and master's degree levels. These programs give students the opportunity to connect with professionals in the video game industry over the course of their degree. Students may submit a portfolio for consideration if they want to, although it is not required.

Southern New Hampshire University offers a bachelor's degree program in information technologies with a concentration in game design and development that gives students a solid foundation in IT as well as a thorough education in the creative aspects of game design. Students are asked to have computer with up-to-date hardware, Unreal Game Engine 4 and 3DS Max (provided for free by the college) and Adobe Dreamweaver, Illustrator and Photoshop.

There are many online options for students interested in video game design, with programs available for both graduate and undergraduate study. Some schools may ask students to submit a portfolio of their best work as part of the application process.

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