Best Colleges for Video Game Design

Getting paid to design the next Fortnight or Overwatch may sound like a fanciful dream to obsessed young gamers. Yet, for those with the programming and design acumen, it can very much be a reality. Video game design programs are popping up at additional universities every year as the $130 billion gaming industry clamors for fresh talent. While earning a degree in video game design, you’ll take courses in animation, sound, 3D modeling and graphics, computer science, and programming. Given that this is a very new field, you’ll want to make sure that your prospective institution has a strong faculty, opportunities for hands-on learning, and top labs/facilities loaded with the latest technologies. The schools that are included on this list of the best video game design colleges all meet and even exceed these criteria.

Click the links below for more information about each college’s video game design program. Click here to read our methodology. Now, we are ready to begin our overview of the best video game design colleges.

1) Carnegie Mellon University

  • Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology (IDeATe) collaborates with the Entertainment Technology Center to offer an undergraduate minor in game design.
  • Additionally, students can take video game design courses even if they are not working on a minor in the subject.
  • A sampling of courses includes the following: Little Games/Big Stories: Indie Roleplaying Game Studio, Introduction to Digital Storytelling + Archives, Distributed Game Studio: Game Art Pipeline, and Research Issues in Game Development.

2) Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Degree offered is a BS in Computational Media which includes a focus area on Games.
  • Courses offered include: Constructing the Moving Image, Computer Animation, Experimental Media, Game Design as a Cultural Practice, and Principles of Interaction Design.
  • Lastly, graduates go on to work for major video game studios and interactive media firms.

3) Purdue University

  • Offers a Game Development and Design bachelor’s degree.
  • Major requirements include Computer Graphics Programming, User Experience Design Studio, Game Development: Design and Psychology, and a Game Development Practicum.
  • Recent grads have been hired by Electronic Arts, Zynga, Volition Inc., as well as Riot Games.

4) Rochester Institute of Technology

  • Bachelor of Science in Game Design and Development results in an 85% positive outcome rate with an average starting salary of $84k.
  • The school has their own MAGIC Spell Studios with a fully functional film sound stage, sound mix and color correction post-production studios, a 4K Dolby Atmos theater, and several working media laboratories.
  • Further, students tackle two blocks of Co-Op education to gain full-time, paid experience in the gaming industry.

5) University of Southern California

  • USC Games represents a collaboration between the School of Cinematic Arts’ Interactive Media & Games Division and the Viterbi School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science.
  • They also offer a Video Game Production minor.
  • Labs include the Advanced Games Lab, USC Games Studios, the Game Innovation Lab, and the Kinect Development Lab.

6) Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

  • Offers a bachelor’s degree in Games and Simulation Arts and Science.
  • There are 14 professors that teach in this department.
  • Areas covered include Game programming and software engineering, 3D animation and digital arts, Game audio and music composition, Experimental game design, Interactive narrative and game storytelling, Artificial intelligence in games, and Virtual and augmented reality.

7) Northeastern University

  • Offers many degree and minor options including a BS in Game Development and Computer Science, a BFA in Game Art and Animation, and a Game Design minor.
  • Co-op opportunities include SAIC, Zynga, and Microsoft Studios.
  • Coursework covers topics such as Games and Society, Foundations of Game Design, Rapid Idea Prototyping for Games, Level Design and Game Architecture, and Game Concept Development.

8) New York University

  • NYU offers a BFA in Game Design as well as an undergraduate minor option within the Tisch School of the Arts.
  • Coursework is “broad and deep, letting you focus on game programming, game design, visual design for games, game criticism, or other areas.”
  • Program is focused on “learning by doing” and undergraduates take advantage of top-notch facilities to create their own original games.

9) Drexel University

  • The Bachelor of Science in Game Design & Production is housed in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design.
  • Students spend six months working in the game industry as part of the University’s Co-Op Program.
  • The URBN Center includes the following technologies for Game Design students: 25x17ft green screen cyclorama, HD/2k/4k camera systems, Vicon Vantage motion capture system, Stereo-360 “VR Video” capture systems, Room-scale VR tracking systems, and the Immersive Project Dome.

10) Savannah College of Art and Design

  • Large numbers of SCAD alumni can be found working at the likes of Apple, Adobe, Electronic Arts, and Microsoft.
  • Offers a BA in Digital Media with a concentration in Game Development.
  • Courses offered include Game Art, Game Design, Interactive Design, Digital Design Aesthetics, and Programming.

11) University of Utah

  • The Entertainment Arts and Engineering program offers a bachelor of science in Games (BSG) or an option to complete a 24-credit minor.
  • Prepared graduates to work on “the development of entertainment software, games-based learning environments for K-12 students, professional task-training tools, serious games for health, and scientific collaboration or other contexts addressing compelling societal needs.”
  • Lastly, coursework includes Traditional Game Development, Ethics in Games, Survey of Games, and Digital Content Creation.

12) Worcester Polytechnic Institute

  • Students can complete a BA in Interactive Media & Game Development or minor in the discipline.
  • From the first semester of freshman year, students will be making things such as: games, interactive fiction, art installations, collaborative performances, or virtual environments.
  • All of the PCs in WPI’s labs are equipped with an i7-8700K @3.70GHz CPU, 64GB RAM, 1TB SSD primary hard drive, 2TB 7200 RPM secondary hard drive, and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card.

13) George Mason University

  • Connected to the Virginia Serious Game Institute which focuses on applied research and cultivating new companies.
  • Award-winning faculty teach courses such as: Story Design for Computer Games, History of Video Game Design, Research Methods and Criticism, and Character Development.
  • Extremely hands-on program that has bachelor’s degree students building games from the moment they set foot on campus.

14) DigiPen Institute of Technology

  • Campus is located in Redmond, Washington.
  • Offers the following bachelor’s programs: BA in Game Design, BS in Computer Science and Game Design, and BS in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation.
  • Courses include Game Systems, Level Design Methods, Narrative Design, User Research, and Role-Playing Game Design.

15) DePaul University

  • Grads have been hired by Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, NeatherRealm Studios, Owlchemy Labs, Firaxis, Wargaming, Phosphor Games, and many others.
  • Multiple lab facilities including the Virtual and Augmented Design Lab and the Matters at Play transdisciplinary lab.
  • Offers a full BS degree in Game Design; the program has received accolades from The Princeton Review and Animation Career Review.

16) Columbia College Chicago

  • Offers a major in Game Design as well as specific areas of concentration including Game Art, Development, and Sound.
  • Recent grads have been hired by companies such as Dreamation, Jellyvision, RedEye Studios, WMS Industries, and Liquid Generation.
  • Students complete a culminating project where they create a working, finalized game.

17) Michigan State University

  • Alumni work at EA, Ubisoft, 343 Industries, Bethesda Game Studios, Bungie, Blizzard Entertainment, and Twitch.
  • The Games and Interactive Media major was started at MSU in 2005.
  • Students put together a portfolio that includes small and large projects; recent students complete games that have received widespread acclaim.

18) Bradley University

  • Faculty members have worked on game series such as “League of Legends,” “Far Cry” and “Red Faction.”
  • Recent grads have been hired by Blizzard, Warner Brothers Games, NetherRealms, and Oculus VR.
  • Courses include Survey of Games, Introduction to Game Scripting, Interactive Media Theories, Introduction to Game Development, and Fundamentals of Interactive Design.

Final Thoughts: Best Video Game Design Colleges

In conclusion, we hope you have found our list of the Best Video Game Colleges to be helpful. Alternatively, if you are interested in studying related fields, check out our other “best colleges” lists in the areas of:

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