Selecting a School
Colleges and universities commonly house their video game design programs in the departments of computer science and technology or visual art and design. Video game design is a diverse and complex field and degree programs in the field reflect this. Some schools focus on the artistic side of game design, with courses focused on drawing, character design and lighting techniques, while other programs may focus on the technical side of video game development, such as coding, programming and scripting.
Prospective students have a number of important things to consider when looking for video game design schools. For one thing, you should choose a school that emphasizes your area of interest. If you prefer drawing and design, look for a program tailored to artists. If you're more interested in coding and scripting, seek out programs intended for programmers. Also, although video game design may be studied online, on-campus classes give students access to the software and equipment used in the industry. In fact, industry connections can be vital for aspiring designers looking for employment and should be considered when choosing a school. This can be done by seeking out schools that collaborate with game design businesses that you would like to work for.
Students looking for a brief but intensive education should seriously consider a certificate program, which can be completed in about a year. Majors vary from school to school, with potential fields including animation or game development. Regardless of a program's title, most programs offer a similar course load, with students learning about fundamental design concepts, such as storyboarding, animation and drawing.
Associate's Degree Programs
Students in search of a more comprehensive education can pursue an associate's degree. These programs typically take about two years to complete. Like certificate programs, associate's degree curricula focus on developing skills and knowledge essential to game design. Unlike certificate programs, however, these programs also feature more esoteric courses in other subjects, such as college writing and behavioral science.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
Bachelor's degree programs take about four years to complete and aim to combine a general all-around education with a concentration in game design. Artistic programs focus on animation and drawing, while more technical degrees can include computer science. Some programs also allow students to supplement the knowledge learned in the classroom with practical, hands-on experience.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Computer Games and Programming Skills
- Computer Programming for Applications
- Computer Programming for Certifications
Video Game Design Schools
Here are some schools around the United States that offer a variety of video game design programs, certificates and degrees:
- Houston Community College is a 2-year public school in Texas that offers a few certificate and associate degree programs in digital gaming design tailored towards both artists and programmers.
- A 2-year public school, City College of San Francisco offers a certificate program in game design.
- Pima Community College, on the other hand, provides a Digital Game and Simulation Associate of Applied Science program that's designed to help programmers hone their skills.
- East Los Angeles College features an animation certificate that teaches essential design concepts such as background art and character design.
- Additionally, Santa Ana College features an award-winning 3D modeling and animation program that prepares aspiring artists for employment as game designers and developers.
- The University of Southern California is a 4-year institution that offers several bachelor's degrees related to both the artistic and technical aspects of game design.
- Mt. San Antonio College is another 2-year public school and offers several certificates in animation and game design.
- The department of computer science and information technology at Palomar College offers a series of courses related to several different game design concepts.
- While a private school, located in the heart of New York City, New York University, offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Design program.
- And, finally, students near the nation's capital can attend Montgomery College in Maryland. This public school offers a Computer Gaming and Simulation Associate of Applied Science degree.
Because video game design is such a diverse and complex field (with some programs focusing on the artistic side of game design, such as drawing and animation, and others focusing on the technical side of the industry, such as coding and programming), students should consider their specified area of interest, where and how they would like to attend college, and how easily they can make industry connections when choosing a school.