The video game industry is on the rise with powerful new classics like Fortnite Battle Royale, and a growing multi-billion dollar a year industry. This is a career path that is only set to explode over the next 20 years with gaming taking on new dimensions including virtual reality, augmented reality games, and AI video games. This is our ranking of the best video game design colleges.
About Video Game Design
Video game design is a growing technical career that can be done via an online college, or an in campus education. We have tried to explain this growing career, and help you select the best education possible with this authoritative ranking of the top schools in game design.
What Does A Video Game Designer Do ?
With a concept, a video game begins. A proposal is drawn up by a team of game designers dealing with essential details such as target audience, requirements, deadlines, and budgets. Video game designers make the concept of gameplay and layout come alive, often through experimentation with multiple themes and genres, as well as on existing games developments and improvements.
Many types of game designers focus on a specific gameplay aspect. Most designers are going to spend at least some of their time as testers, experimenting with coding and watching the mistakes of others firsthand.
Lead designers are the team’s coordinators and are responsible for communicating within and outside the design team and making important decisions. A designer of game mechanics works on the game balance and its rule system.
Finally, it is the responsibility of an environmental designer to create different game scenarios and environments. Throughout its making, a game will undergo millions of changes, and game designers need to recheck and recover thousands of lines of code continually.
A video game designer may also be asked to develop a game that focuses on a specific aspect such as market, design, technology, or art. These are skills that you will learn from a design school for video games or from an accredited college with a robust video game design program.
Market-driven games are designed to make a profit, and their progress is therefore limited to the demand of consumers. This way, most games are developed. Design-driven contests enable the designer to take full control of the game and its aspects.
Because of financial restrictions, many games are not developed in this way. Technology-driven games are created to highlight a technological achievement or to market consoles and engines such as graphic displays of high quality. Rarely will a game be art-driven, where visual effects and impressive designs created by artists are focused on in-game.
Becoming A Video Game Designer
More schools have programs in video game design, and camps and conferences, and studios entirely dedicated to video game design, to prepare students for this growing industry.
E-sports games combining professional competitive gaming for titles and prizes — drawing huge crowds, and even television coverage, have become the mainstream at significant events around the world and are also featured on ESPN and other mainstream news websites.
There would be no video games, no competitions, no leagues, or tournaments without video game designers.
That’s why this career path is ever more so important than ever before. The following schools were selected based on data from The Princeton Review, and NCES to feature the Best Video Game Design Colleges & Programs.
University of Southern CaliforniaMERIT:Average Cost:
USC is a private, comprehensive university, founded in 1880. As a major research university, USC provides an extraordinary range of academic programs for undergraduates and encourages disciplinary study and research. This range of programs means that both strong liberal arts and professional studies can be combined by students.
The 155-acre central campus location of USC puts Los Angeles and Southern California’s unique resources within easy reach.
Students draw on these resources for research and internships, exploring arts and community service, and working at the Information Technology Development Center. USC students maintain a strong sense of community within this driven, forward-thinking, technology center.New York UniversityMERIT:Average Cost:
Founded in 1831, New York University is a private, comprehensive institution. The undergraduate program, which offers more than 2,500 courses, aims to foster inquiry, creativity and independent ambition in all students and challenge them intellectually, professionally and personally.
The main campus, located in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, has no walls or gates to keep you walled in from Manhattan’s unique culture.Digipen Institute of TechnologyMERIT:Average Cost:
Digipen based in Redmond, WA offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Game Design that prepares graduates to become hybrid engineers/designers with strong programming and math skills in combination with formal game design training.
Digital entertainment has grown from using small teams of just a handful of developers to use large teams of a hundred or more on a single title for a whole game. This massive increase in team size, scope, and investment in digital entertainment titles has created a growing demand for a type of developer capable of bridging the scientific and creative sides of game development, capable of working as an engineer or designer as necessary.Becker CollegeMERIT:Average Cost:
Founded in 1887, Becker College is a private liberal arts school with a Leicester branch campus. It is located in Worcester in its 100-acre campus.
The US has called Becker College a “game designer destination.” World Report and News. The Princeton Review has ranked Becker College a leading school in the field of game study at Becker College for the past ten years.Rochester Institute of TechnologyMERIT:Average Cost:
Rochester Institute of Technology is a private technology school. It offers one of the leading cooperative training programs in the nation. Two students out of three who attend RIT end up with full-time paid jobs in business and industry.
Rochester Institute of Technology also offers online or campus-based programs. The campus is located at 1,300 hectares, five miles from Rochester city center.University of UtahMERIT:Average Cost:
The University of Utah is a public institution. It is a distinct learning community in the American West. The Faculty is known for its range of strengths and interdisciplinary considerations and consists of the most renowned teachers and researchers.
With international research links, the university is consistently one of the leading research institutions. The university offers nationally recognized liberal education and honors programs and supports one of the nation’s pioneering training services.
The undergraduate opportunities for research enable students to participate in research supported by the faculty early in the new year. The 1,500-acre campus ‘ proximity to both the excitement of urban life in Salt Lake City and the possible outdoor adventures in the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains will enhance a commitment to undergraduate experience.MIchigan State UniversityMERIT:Average Cost:
Michigan State University is a public university. National recognition has been gained for cancer research and the development of the MRI.
Michigan State University has the largest residence dorms of any university in the country and also the most powerful superconducting cyclotron in the world.
It is the only university in the country with three medical schools on one campus: human, osteopathic and veterinary.
Programs are offered through Agricultural and Natural Resources Colleges, Arts and Letters, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Communication, Human Ecology, Natural Science, Nursing and Osteopathy Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Social Sciences, Eli Broad Business College and James Madison College.
It is located in East Lansing in its 5,200-acre campus 80 miles northwest of Detroit.Hampshire CollegeMERIT:Average Cost:
Founded in 1965, Hampshire is a Private Liberal Arts College, with an interdisciplinary curriculum rather than one-discipline classes, concentrations designed by students instead of predetermined grades, and an assessment of stories rather than letters.
Hampshire is part of the Five Colleges Consortium where students can study at Smith College, Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College and the University of Massachusetts. It is located in Amherst, 90 kilometers west of Boston.Worcester Polytechnic InstituteMERIT:Average Cost:
WPI was one of the very first technology schools in the country, founded in Worcester, Mass., 45 miles west of Boston, in 1865. They have taken a unique approach to science and technology education. The curriculum is both practical and innovative.
Small classes, flexible, practical curriculum, and individual interaction with top-class professors make WPI learning experience different from any other. Students complete campus and worldwide projects. They connect what they have learned with the pressing challenges of real life from human health and the environment to enterprise and engineering.LaSalle College – VancouverMERIT:Average Cost:
LaSalle Vancouver College started as an ESL only school in 1998. In 2002, the school began to focus and expand on design-based programs such as Fashion Design, Fashion Merchandising, Artistic Make-up, Interior Design, Jewelry Design, Graphic Design, and 2D/3D Animation as well as online training programs in Interior Design, Fashion Marketing, Video Game 3D Modeling, and Administrative Assistant.Drexel UniversityMERIT:Average Cost:
Drexel University is a private higher education institution. It has an active job placement program that enhances the career development of students.
The College of Arts and Sciences, Business and Administration, Engineering, and Information Science and Technology, and Nesbitt College of Design Arts are offering programs. Its 38-acre campus is located in West Philadelphia’s University City area.Champlain CollegeMERIT:Average Cost:
Champlain is a private college offering business and management programs. Founded in 1878, it adopted coeducation in 1900. Its 19-acre campus is located in the town of Burlington, 39 miles from Montpelier.
Champlain’s Bachelor of Science degree in Game Programming—one of the first bachelor’s degrees of its kind in the nation—combines games with the intellectual challenge of software creation to produce a highly versatile and valuable, in-demand skill set.
In the Game Programming major, you will gain cutting-edge skills and experience that will make you an outstanding candidate for a position as programmer in the game industry or any number of other industries.Cogswell CollegeMERIT:Average Cost:
Cogswell, founded in 1887, is a private college of technology. Its four-acre campus is located in the city of Cupertino, four miles from San Jose. What makes Cogswell a top video game design school? Classes that simulate an actual game development team coupled with expert mentor instructors that have years of real-world industry experience at video game companies like Electronic Arts and LucasArts.Vancouver Film SchoolMERIT:Average Cost:
Vancouver Film School (VFS) is a private entertainment arts school located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Founded in 1987, it has achieved international recognition. The Vancouver Film School has campus locations around Downtown Vancouver and comprises six buildings. As part of the school’s 20th anniversary in 2007, in August 2006 one million dollars was set aside in scholarships for new students. In March, 2008, Vancouver Film School and YouTube launched a competition for three full-tuition scholarships for the creators of the three videos submitted and voted as favorites by the YouTube community.Bradley UniversityMERIT:Average Cost:
Bradley, founded in 1897, is a private university. Bradley’s ideal size and comprehensive nature provides students with a selection of more than 90 programs from five undergraduate colleges. Students benefit from a talented, scholarly faculty dedicated to teaching and mentoring and are afforded opportunities for research, internships, practicums, cooperative education, and leadership experiences.
Bradley is a pioneer in information technology and provides students electronic access to campus and global information resources from their dorm rooms. Programs are offered through the Colleges of Business Administration, Communications and Fine Arts, Education and Health Sciences, Engineering and Technology, and Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School. Its 75-acre campus is located in a residential area of Peoria.Ferris State UniversityMERIT:Average Cost:
Ferris State, founded in 1884, is a public university of career-oriented education. Programs are offered through the Michigan College of Optometry and the Colleges of Allied Health Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Human Services, Pharmacy and Technology. Its 600-acre campus is located in Big Rapids, 50 miles from Grand Rapids.Laguna College of Art and DesignMERIT:Average Cost:
Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) is a dually accredited private college located in Laguna Beach, California, United States. With an enrollment of approximately 550 students, the College offers Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in seven majors: Animation, Creative Writing, Drawing and Painting, Game Art, Graphic Design + Digital Media, Illustration and Illustration in Entertainment Design. Minors are offered in Animation, Art History, Creative Writing, Drawing and Painting, Graphic Design + Digital Media, Illustration, and Sculpture. LCAD also offers four Master of Fine Arts degrees in Art of Game Design, Creative Writing, Drawing and Painting; and a post-baccalaureate certificate program in Drawing and Painting.Depaul UniversityMERIT:Average Cost:
DePaul, founded in 1898, is the largest private Catholic university in the U.S. and a college where “the world is brought into the classroom, and the classroom is taken out to engage in the world.” Undergraduate education emphasizes the liberal arts and sciences as well as service learning through its nationally recognized community-based service learning programs. The university promotes diversity in academic and student life by welcoming both full-time and part-time students who vary in age, background, ethnicity, and religious affiliation. Its 40-acre main campus is located in the historic Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park.Full Sail UniversityMERIT:Average Cost:
Full Sail is a private university offering master’s, bachelor’s, and associate’s degrees that prepare students for careers in entertainment media. Degree programs include computer animation, game development, recording arts, and show production. Its campus is located in Winter Park, about 10 miles north of Orlando.University of Central FloridaMERIT:Average Cost:
The University of Central Florida, founded in 1963, is a public, comprehensive university. It is one of the nation’s most visible metropolitan universities. During the last several years, student enrollment has increased dramatically. Located in Orlando, one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities, the university is able to provide distinctive learning opportunities for students through partnerships established with central Florida businesses, industry and government. The university focuses on the undergraduate experience and offers many opportunities through its outstanding facilities, campus environment, the Honors College, the nationally-recognized LEAD scholars program, the Central Florida Research Park and many other academic endeavors. These academic opportunities, coupled with a strong commitment to maintaining a diverse and talented student body, continue to ensure the university’s future as a dynamic institution. Its 1,415-acre campus is located in Orlando.