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In Texas, students interested in designing games can learn various aspects of the craft most commonly at the undergraduate certificate, associate degree or bachelor's degree level. There are also related graduate programs in arts and technology. Relevant degrees could fall under the following titles: digital gaming and simulation, visual communications, game art programming, game development, animation or multimedia. Additionally, game design or development may be offered as a concentration within a larger information technology or computer science program.
In order to complete a program, students may be required to participate in an internship as well as develop a sample work portfolio. Profiled below are the ten largest public and private non-profit schools in the state offering game design programs, as well as a comparison table that shows program offerings and tuition info at a glance.
Austin Community College
Austin Community College offers visual communication Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) programs through its Visual Communication Department, which has 16 faculty members. Students can specialize in game visualization programming, game art and game design. Programming students take courses in Java and C++ programming, logic and scripting. They're also required to complete an internship or advanced elective. Design students focus on scripting and designing games, while art students take classes in modeling, rendering and lighting. Both the design and art programs require final portfolios.
The school also has Level II Certificate programs in game art and game design. These programs have identical curricula to their degree counterparts, but without general education requirements. In addition, all aspiring game designers have access to open computer labs at the South Austin and Northridge campuses.
Baylor University is located in Waco and, with a founding year of 1845, it's one of the oldest universities in Texas. The Department of Computer Science has a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Computer Science program with a concentration in game development. This ABET-accredited program covers foundational math, science and computer science skills, as well as more advanced topics like research and development. Students who select the game development specialization can also take classes such as gaming platforms, computer graphics, production methods and visual literacy. The program culminates with a capstone project, where each student creates a gaming system.
Collin County Community College
Located about 35 miles from Dallas in the city of McKinney, Collin County Community College has certificate and A.A.S. programs in animation with a game art track or a 3-D animation track. Courses include 3-D modeling and rendering with Maya, storyboarding and level design. In addition, students develop a portfolio and complete a final group project. All animation faculty have industry experience or are currently working in the field, and the college brings in industry guest speakers.
Houston Community College
Houston Community College offers digital gaming and simulation A.A.S. programs for programmers and artists, which are taught by two full-time instructors at the West Loop campus of its Southwest College. This school also offers a concentrated certificate program for both artists and programmers interested in focusing on game design and simulation. Game art students develop the skills to create layouts, designs and user interfaces through courses in 2-D and 3-D art and graphics, while game programming students develop, program, script and design games.
Game design covers the basics of game creation, writing, testing and bug reporting. An internship is also required. All A.A.S. students complete a final, collaborative game project. Additionally, students enrolled a digital gaming and simulation A.A.S. program can simultaneously earn an Enhanced Skills Certificate with an emphasis in level design.
The school also has level I and level II certificates in gaming and simulation for both artists and programmers. Level I certificate programs take just one year to complete, while level II certificate programs take two years. The level I programs cover gaming and simulation basics, and the level II programs include the same requirements as the A.A.S. programs, but without the general education requirements.
Northwest Vista College
Northwest Vista College, located on the northwestern edge of San Antonio, enrolls over 16,000 students annually. The college's programs related to game design include an A.A.S. in Game Development with a specialization in programming or production. Programming students focus on developing games and software using C++ and Java, while the production specialization includes courses in storyboarding, 3-D animation and technical writing.
Students can also study game design through the college's certificate programs in game production, game concept art and 3-D animation. The game production certificate requires classes in areas such as programming, level design and digital imaging, while the game art program covers drawing, character sculpting, animation and storyboarding. The 3-D animation certificate includes classes in 3-D modeling and animation; shading, lighting and texture; dynamics and particles; and character animation.
Students at Richland College in Dallas can earn an associate's degree in interactive simulation and game technology or computer information technology with a game specialization emphasis. The simulation and game technology program focuses on creating interactive games. Students also choose a specialization in art/animation or programming. The art specialization includes courses in modeling and rendering, level design and 3-D animation, while the programming emphasis covers artificial intelligence, multi-user programming and simulation programming. Both specializations require an internship or final project.
Students who pursue an associate's degree in computer information technology can select a concentration in software programmer/developer assistant with a game specialization emphasis. Some of the required and elective classes include animation programming, level design, iOS programming, 3-D game modeling and C++ game development. Students can also enroll in special topics courses and advanced animation and programming classes.
Sam Houston State University
Situated in Huntsville, Sam Houston State has a 120-credit bachelor's program in computer animation. Prior to entering the program, students must successfully complete a workshop in art history and studio techniques. To enroll in the workshop, students are required to first purchase the type of Mac laptop recommended for the program, and financial assistance is available to offset the cost.
Additionally, a passing score on a portfolio review is necessary to stay in the program beyond sophomore year. Once accepted, students complete core coursework in drawing, design and art history. They also take classes in pre-visualization, 2-D and 3-D animation, 3-D modeling and character animation, to name a few.
San Jacinto Community College
Students at San Jacinto Community College in Pasadena can pursue one of three game design certificates through the school's Computer Information Technology Department. The game design and development certificate is an introductory program that allows students to learn programming basics, level design fundamentals and basic game design skills. The game design certificate program covers developing game engines and creating games and simulations, as well as advanced coursework, such as object-oriented programming and game-level design.
Tarrant County College District
Tarrant County College District in Fort Worth offers certificate and A.A.S. programs in game and simulation programming at the college's South Campus. Both programs largely require the same game design courses, but the A.A.S. also requires classes in communications, science, math, information security and computer science. Some of the game design courses offered include interactive storyboarding, level design, game development, advanced game programming and interactive audio. The programs also require a capstone class, during which students develop professional portfolios.
The University of Texas at Dallas
Students at the University of Texas at Dallas in Richardson can pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in arts and technology. The 120-credit bachelor's program allows students to study computer imaging, computer animation, game development and game design. The Master of Arts program requires 27 credits of electives in areas such as game studies, game production, animation production and more.
Those who enroll in the Master of Fine Arts program can pursue the same electives through the program's 24-credit requirement, but they're also required to spend six hours on a final project. The research-oriented doctoral degree program allows students to pursue advanced coursework in simulation and game design.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Game Design Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Austin Community College||2-year, public; large city|| Certificate in Game Art,
Certificate in Game Design,
Associate of Applied Science in Game Visualization Programming Specialization,
Associate of Applied Science in Game Art Specialization,
Associate of Applied Science in Game Design Specialization
|$2,550 in-district; $9,210 in-state; $11,340 out-of-state*|
|Baylor University||4-year, private not-for-profit; midsized city||B.S. in Computer Science with a video game development specialization||$40,198*|
|Collin County Community College||2-year, public; midsized suburb||Certificate in 3-D Animation Track/Game Art Track,
Associate of Applied Science in Animation 3-D Animation Track/Game Art Track
|$1,174 in-district; $2,344 in-state; $4,144 out-of-state*|
|Houston Community College||2-year, public; large city|| Digital Gaming and Simulation for Artists Certificate,
Digital Gaming and Simulations for Programmers Certificate,
Associate of Applied Science in Digital Gaming and Simulation for Artists,
Associate of Applied Science in Digital Gaming and Simulation for Programmers
|$1,632 in-district; $3,360 in-state; $3,756 out-of-state*|
|Northwest Vista College||2-year, public; large city|| Game Production Certificate,
Game Concept Art Certificate,
3-D Animation Certificate,
Associate of Applied Science in Game Development with a specialization in game production,
Associate of Applied Science in Game Development with a specialization in game programming
|$2,088 in-district; $5,550 in-state; $10,740 out-of-state*|
|Richland College||2-year, public; large city|| Associate of Applied Science in Interactive Simulation and Game Technology,
Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Technology with a game specialization emphasis
|$1,770 in-district; $3,330 in-state; $5,220 out-of-state*|
|Sam Houston State||4-year, public; distant town||Bachelor of Fine Arts in Computer Animation||$7,618 (in-state); $16,978 (out-of-state)*|
|San Jacinto Community College||2-year, public; large suburb|| Certificate in Information Simulation Technology and Game Design,
Occupational Certificate in Information Technology with an introductory game design and development emphasis,
Level II Certificate in Information Technology with an advanced simulation/game design emphasis
|$1,408 in-district; $2,416 in-state; $3,688 out-of-state*|
|Tarrant County College District||2-year, public; large city|| Certificate in Game and Simulation Programming,
Associate of Applied Science in Game and Simulation Programming
|$1,320 in-district; $2,064 in-state; $4,920 out-of-state*|
|The University of Texas at Dallas||4-year, public; small city|| Bachelor of Arts in Arts and Technology,
Master of Arts in Arts and Technology,
Master of Fine Arts in Arts and Technology,
Doctor of Philosophy in Arts and Technology
|$10,864 (in-state); $26,894 (out-of-state)*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator.