Associate and bachelor's degree programs in computer design are for beginning students, while most master's-level programs are aimed at students with a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field. All degree levels allow students to become familiar with the technology and software involved in game design. Students learn programming languages, how to work with imaging software and the principles of game design. However, those who earn a bachelor's degree or higher have the best chance of obtaining a job in the industry.
Prerequisites to these programs include a high school diploma or equivalent for associate's and bachelor's programs. A bachelor's degree in a computer or engineering related field is needed for a master's program. Internships may be necessary for degree completion.
Associate's Degree in Computer Game Design
An associate degree in computer game design is often designed to transfer to a 4-year program in computer science with a game development specialty. Students completing this 2-year program will become proficient in writing computer language, 3-D modeling, imaging and software development. Graduates who do not wish to pursue further schooling can obtain entry-level jobs in the computer and video game industry.
Students in a computer game design associate degree program take 90 total units that involve a combination of science, math, electives and core liberal arts courses. Some courses include:
- Computer science
- Java programming
- Game design
- Programming in C#
Bachelor's Degree in Computer Game Design
This 4-year program will provide a strong foundation in computer game design techniques as well as a liberal arts education. Schools offering this program offer a foundation of traditional drawing, illustration and art courses to make way for 2-D and 3-D animation, storytelling, character development, audio and game technology knowledge. Students will become familiar with industry technology and software like Flash, Adobe and Gamemaker. Students taking this program are strongly encouraged to add an internship to their curriculum, which will give them real world experience to understand how the gaming industry works.
Being a bachelor's liberal arts degree, computer game design undergraduate students take core courses like English and math along with electives and courses within one's major. Courses include both classroom and laboratory work. Major specific coursework may include:
- Raster imaging
- 3-D animation
- Tools in game development
- Development of virtual worlds
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Master's Degree in Computer Game Design
Master's degree programs in computer graphics are generally meant for students with computer-related undergraduate degrees, such as computer science or engineering, and who wish to get into the computer game industry. However, students without computer technological undergraduate degrees can expand this 1-year program into two years by completing a year of prerequisite classes. This program will create students competent in computer architecture, computer game design and development.
Coursework will focus on the manipulation of computer graphics through gaming industry-standard applications and the following:
- Computing theory
- Digital systems
- 3-D modeling
- Engineering entrepreneurship
Popular Career Options
Although most computer game design associate's degrees are meant for students continuing their education with a bachelor's degree, there are several career options for those with a 2-year degree. These jobs are often entry-level or apprenticeship jobs. They include:
- Game design assistant
- Associate producer
- Multimedia architect
- Production assistant
Careers for those with bachelor's degrees in computer game design include most areas of the video game industry. Graduates can go into both computer game design and the design of games used for computers and consumer video game consoles. Some career options include:
- Game developer
- Game designer
- Graphics designer
- 3-D artist
- Animation Engineer
With a master's degree in computer game design, graduates are prepared for careers in every area of the computer game design industry. These areas include the following jobs:
- Game design
- Computer game producer
- User interface artist
- Game tester
- Graphics programmer
Undergraduate students in computer game design programs learn about design techniques and basic knowledge required for designing computer games. Master's programs focus on 3-D modeling, engineering entrepreneurship, and other courses that provide students with advanced computer game design skills.