The gaming industry is growing at an incredible rate, and as a result, there has been a significant increase in the demand for qualified professionals in game design. Undergraduate programs in game design provide students with the foundational skills and knowledge required to pursue a career in this exciting field. In this article, we will explore the top game design programs for undergraduates, examining their curriculum, faculty, and opportunities for students to gain practical experience in game design.
1. University of Southern California (USC)
The University of Southern California (USC) is a private research university located in Los Angeles, California. The USC Games program, which is a joint effort between the School of Cinematic Arts and the Viterbi School of Engineering, is consistently ranked as one of the top game design programs in the world.
The undergraduate program in Interactive Entertainment is designed to prepare students for careers in game design, production, and programming. The curriculum covers a wide range of topics, including game design, programming, production, and storytelling. Students have access to cutting-edge facilities and equipment, including motion capture studios, virtual reality labs, and game development studios.
USC also offers a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Interactive Media & Games, which is a three-year program that allows students to specialize in game design, programming, or production. The MFA program emphasizes collaboration and interdisciplinary work, and students have the opportunity to work with faculty members and industry professionals on a variety of projects.
The USC Games program has partnerships with many of the top game development companies in the industry, including Electronic Arts, Microsoft, and Sony. Students have the opportunity to participate in internships and other industry-related experiences, which can provide valuable networking opportunities and hands-on experience.
USC also hosts the annual USC Games Expo, which showcases the work of students from the Interactive Entertainment program and the MFA in Interactive Media & Games program. The expo attracts industry professionals and recruiters from major game development companies.
Overall, USC offers a comprehensive game design program that provides students with the skills and experiences necessary to succeed in the industry. The program's strong industry partnerships and state-of-the-art facilities make it a top choice for aspiring game designers.
2. Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)
The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is a private research university located in Rochester, New York. It has been consistently ranked as one of the top game design schools in the United States. RIT's School of Interactive Games and Media (IGM) offers a Bachelor of Science in Game Design and Development, which is one of the most comprehensive game design programs in the country.
The program emphasizes a strong foundation in computer science and mathematics, in addition to courses in game design, art, and animation. Students have access to state-of-the-art game development technology and facilities, including motion capture studios, virtual reality labs, and game design studios. The program also emphasizes team-based game development, providing students with opportunities to work on interdisciplinary game projects in collaboration with students from other majors such as film and animation.
In addition, RIT's IGM school has strong ties to the game industry, with faculty members who have worked on games such as "World of Warcraft" and "Assassin's Creed." The program also offers various internship opportunities with game development companies such as Blizzard Entertainment, Microsoft, and Electronic Arts.
Graduates of RIT's game design program have gone on to work for major game development companies such as Valve Corporation, Ubisoft, and Rockstar Games. They have also founded their own game development companies, creating games for a wide range of platforms including mobile, console, and PC.
Overall, RIT's game design program provides students with a strong foundation in game development and design, as well as numerous opportunities to gain practical experience and build professional connections in the game industry.
3. University of Utah
The University of Utah is home to one of the top game design programs in the country, the Entertainment Arts and Engineering (EAE) program. The program is housed within the College of Engineering and the College of Fine Arts, offering a unique blend of technical and creative coursework.
The undergraduate game design program at the University of Utah is focused on providing students with a comprehensive education in game design and development. The curriculum covers everything from game theory and mechanics to programming and graphics. Students have access to state-of-the-art facilities, including a motion capture lab, a virtual reality lab, and a game design studio.
One of the standout features of the EAE program is the opportunity for students to work on real-world game development projects. Through partnerships with game development companies and other organizations, students have the chance to work on projects for companies like Disney, Electronic Arts, and more.
Additionally, the program offers a wide range of elective courses, allowing students to focus on specific areas of game design and development. Students can choose to specialize in game art, game engineering, or game production.
Graduates of the program have gone on to work for top game development companies such as Blizzard Entertainment, EA Sports, and Microsoft Game Studios. With its focus on hands-on experience and collaboration with industry professionals, the University of Utah's game design program is an excellent choice for undergraduates looking to enter the field of game design and development.
4. Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)
Carnegie Mellon University's (CMU) Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) offers a Master of Entertainment Technology (MET) program that combines game design, computer science, and fine arts. The program aims to equip students with skills that enable them to design and develop innovative games and interactive experiences.
The MET program has a strong emphasis on hands-on experience and interdisciplinary collaboration, with students working on projects in teams throughout their coursework. Students have access to cutting-edge technology and facilities, including motion capture studios, virtual reality systems, and game development labs.
The program also offers opportunities for students to gain real-world experience through internships and industry partnerships. Graduates of the program have gone on to work at major game companies such as Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, and Microsoft, among others.
In addition to the MET program, CMU offers a Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts (BCSA) program that allows students to combine coursework in computer science with arts and design courses, including game design. Students in the BCSA program have the opportunity to take courses in game design, animation, and visual effects.
Overall, CMU offers a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to game design education through its Entertainment Technology Center and BCSA program, preparing students for careers in the rapidly growing game industry.
5. DigiPen Institute of Technology
DigiPen Institute of Technology, located in Redmond, Washington, is a for-profit technical college focused on preparing students for careers in game development, animation, and other related fields. The college offers undergraduate degrees in game design, game programming, computer science in real-time interactive simulation, art and animation, and sound design.
The Bachelor of Science in Game Design program at DigiPen is designed to prepare students for a variety of roles within the game development industry, including game designer, level designer, systems designer, and user interface designer. The program covers a wide range of topics, including game mechanics, game systems, game narrative, game engines, and game production.
DigiPen also offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Game Design program, which combines traditional computer science courses with game development courses to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of game design and development.
Students in DigiPen's game programs have access to state-of-the-art facilities, including a motion capture studio, a virtual reality lab, a sound recording studio, and multiple game development studios. They also have the opportunity to work on real-world projects and collaborate with industry professionals.
DigiPen's game programs have received numerous accolades and recognition in the industry. The Princeton Review has consistently ranked DigiPen as one of the top schools in North America for game design, and the college has received recognition from the International Game Developers Association, the Entertainment Software Association, and the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences.
Overall, DigiPen Institute of Technology is an excellent choice for students who are passionate about game design and development and are looking for a comprehensive education that will prepare them for a career in the industry.
In conclusion, the field of game design offers a unique and exciting career path for undergraduates. Pursuing a degree in game design can provide students with the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to create engaging and innovative games that can entertain and challenge players. The colleges and universities mentioned above offer some of the best game design programs for undergraduate students, each with its unique strengths and resources. Students interested in game design should carefully consider their options and choose a program that aligns with their career goals and aspirations.