Game design revolves around building a game world, creating levels, developing a story into a playable experience for users, and more! There are endless ways to create new variations of games within just a single genre!
If your dream is to become a game designer and develop new worlds in intriguing ways that challenge, inspire, and engage players, we have some advice: getting a college degree can be a huge help!
Becoming a game designer
Game design is akin to writing: you don’t truly need a degree to do it. You can just start working, develop skills, and apply to jobs with the portfolio you developed yourself. So why pay for school?
First, college programs are designed to give you a well-rounded experience with transferable skills. Having a four-year degree says a lot when you’re in an interview for a long-term position, and good teachers provide valuable instruction to help you through snags. Finally, our personal favorite, you’ll be able to work alongside other like-minded students!
Even if you don’t go to one of the schools we discuss below, you can get a degree in a related field – art, history, computer science – and experience many of the benefits listed above. Still, if you have the chance, accredited game design programs like these will have levels of esteem and industry connections that can’t be found elsewhere.
Now, let’s discuss the…
Top colleges with video game development programs
DigiPen Institute was created specifically for creators, with a heavy influence on game technology and development. Located in Redmond, Washington, the institute offers a range of majors from music to engineering and happily features student creations.
Also an important note: according to their tuition page, the cost of attendance is related to the number of credits taken, but doesn’t seem to ever go above $20,000 yearly for in or out-of-state students. That’s pretty cheap! Others can hit above the $40,000 range…
USC’s game design program is arguably the best in the world, but it comes at a cost…
The name “University of Southern California” carries weight in many areas, especially artistic. Their film, acting, and game programs are top-tier courses. Their impressive student center sits in Los Angeles, a worldwide hub for creative endeavors of all kinds.
At the same time, beware. Many people want to get into USC, which makes admissions a difficult process due to their low acceptance rate!
Tuition note: at this time, it seems that USC’s tuition rises above the $56,000 range, making it the most expensive college on the list.
Like USC, the NYU’s popularity makes it difficult to gain entrance but can be a huge benefit to those that make it.
Located in arguably the second greatest worldwide hub of creativity (New York, New York), NYU’s Tish Gaming school has a great “incubator” for budding designers. We recommend looking at their showcase to see what kind of projects the students are working on. You might just be impressed!
NYU’s tuition rises just behind USC, ending somewhere around $51,000 per year. Once again: the price may be worth the payoff. Both these universities are well known for producing quality workers, which may be a leg up in interviews for starting level positions.
Finally, we arrive at Full Sail University, an educational experience designed for aspiring game creators.
Based out of Winter Park, Florida, FSU offers just three courses in game art, game development, and game design. While not the most famous course out there, the name is still well known and you’ll be surrounded by students headed in the same direction!
Full Sail’s graphic design program costs $696 per credit, according to their tuition page. A full 120 credits will reach about $86,000, but the yearly cost will likely fall around $20,000, making this one of the cheapest degrees, and potentially the biggest bang for your buck.
We hope these options start you on your path to a professional game design career! If you decide to first pursue art at a local community college or venture to one of the larger universities, we believe you’ll be well served by the confidence, determination, and knowledge that comes from graduating with a new major. Thanks for reading, and best of luck!