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.
What Does A Video Game Designer Do ?
A video game begins with a concept. A proposal is drafted by a team of game designers, who address important details such as target audience, requirements, deadlines, and budgets. Video game designers make that concept of gameplay and layout come alive, often through experimentation with several themes and genres, as well as developments and improvements on existing games.
There are many types of game designers who focus on a particular aspect of gameplay. Most designers will spend at least some of their time as testers, where they can experiment with coding and watch others’ mistakes firsthand. Lead designers are the coordinators of the team and are responsible for communication inside and outside of the design team, as well as making important decisions. A game mechanics designer works on the balance of the game and its rule system. Lastly, an environmental designer is responsible for creating the different scenarios and environments of the game.
A game will undergo millions of changes throughout its making, and game designers are required to constantly recheck and recode thousands of lines of code. A designer can also be called upon to develop a game to focus on a particular aspect, such as market, design, technology, or art.
Games that are market-driven are designed to make a profit, and therefore their progress is limited to consumer demand. Most games are developed in this manner. Games that are design-driven allow the designer to take full reign of the game and its aspects. Many games are not developed in this manner because of monetary restraints. Games that are technology-driven are created in order to highlight a technological achievement or to market gaming consoles and engines, such as high-quality graphic displays. Rarely, a game will be art-driven, where a game is focused on visual effects and impressive designs created by artists.
Becoming A Video Game Designer
To prepare students for this growing industry more schools have programs in Video Game Design, and camps, and conferences, and studios completely devoted to video game design.
E-sports games that combine professional competitive gaming for titles and prizes—draw huge crowds, and even televised coverage, at large events all over the world have become mainstream and are even featured on ESPN, and other mainstream news websites. Without video game designers there would be no video games, and no competitions, and no leagues, or tournaments.
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:More Information
The University of Southern California, founded in 1880, is a private, comprehensive university. As a major research university, USC provides undergraduates with an extraordinary range of academic programs and encourages study and research across disciplines. This breadth of programs means that students can combine both strong liberal arts and professional studies. USC’s 155-acre main campus location puts the incomparable resources offered by Los Angeles and southern California within easy reach. Students draw on these resources for research and internships, for exploring arts and community service and for working at the center of developing information technologies. Within this driven, forward-thinking, far-flung area, USC students maintain a strong sense of community.New York UniversityMERIT:Average Cost:More Information
New York University, founded in 1831, is a private, comprehensive institution. Offering more than 2,500 courses, the undergraduate program aims to cultivate inquiry, creativity, and independent ambition in all students, and to challenge them intellectually, professionally, and personally. The main campus, located in Greenwich Village in Manhattan, has no walls or gates to maintain a connection to the surrounding city. Fourteen smaller schools within the university maintain their own traditions, programs, and faculty. NYU also has branch campuses in 10 countries on four continents, including Abu Dhabi, UAE.Digipen Institute of TechnologyMERIT:Average Cost:More Information
Digipen based in Redmond, WA offers a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Game Design that prepares graduates to be hybrid engineer/designers who have strong programming and mathematics skills, combined with formal training in game design. The field of digital entertainment has grown from using small teams of just a handful of developers for an entire game to using large teams of one hundred or more on a single title. This large increase in the size of teams, scope, and investment in digital entertainment titles has created a growing demand for a type of developer who can bridge the scientific and creative sides of game development, able to work as an engineer or designer as needed.Becker CollegeMERIT:Average Cost:More Information
Becker College, founded in 1887, is a private, liberal arts, coeducational school, with a branch campus in Leicester. Its 100-acre campus is located in Worcester. Becker College has been called “a destination for game designers” by U.S. News and World Report. Becker College has been consistently ranked by The Princeton Review for the past eight years as a top undergraduate school to study game design–#5 in the world in 2016; their game design and game development and programming majors are among the most innovative and best in the nation.Rochester Institute of TechnologyMERIT:Average Cost:More Information
Rochester Institute of Technology, founded in 1829, is a private, technological institution. It offers one of the nation’s premier cooperative education programs. Two out of every three RIT students participate in cooperative education through full-time, paid work positions in business and industry, alternating with classes on campus. Programs are also offered through the Colleges of Applied Science and Technology, Business, Engineering, Imaging Arts and Sciences, Liberal Arts, and Science. Its 1,300-acre campus is located five miles from downtown Rochester.University of UtahMERIT:Average Cost:More Information
The University of Utah, founded in 1850, is a public institution. It is a distinctive community of learning in the American West. The faculty is known for its range of strengths and interdisciplinary concerns and is comprised of the finest teachers and most renowned researchers. With research ties worldwide, the university consistently ranks among the top research institutions. The university offers nationally recognized programs in liberal education and honors and supports one of the nation’s pioneering service learning programs. Undergraduate research opportunities allow students to participate in faculty assisted research as early as freshman year. A commitment to the undergraduate experience is enhanced by the 1,500-acre campus’ proximity to both the excitement of city life in Salt Lake City and the outdoor adventures possible in the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains.MIchigan State UniversityMERIT:Average Cost:More Information
Michigan State University, founded in 1855, is a comprehensive, land-grant, public university. It has earned national recognition for cancer research and the development of the magnetic resonance imager (MRI). Michigan State has the largest residence hall system of any university in the nation, and it also houses the world’s most powerful superconducting cyclotron. It is the only university in the nation with three medical schools on one campus: human, osteopathic and veterinary. Programs are offered through the Colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Arts and Letters, Communication Arts and Sciences, Education, Engineering, Human Ecology, Natural Science, Nursing, Osteopathic Medicine, Social Science, and Veterinary Medicine; Eli Broad College of Business; and the James Madison College. Its 5,200-acre campus is located in East Lansing, 80 miles northwest of Detroit.Hampshire CollegeMERIT:Average Cost:More Information
Hampshire, founded in 1965, is a private, liberal arts college featuring an interdisciplinary curriculum instead of single-discipline classes, student-designed concentrations instead of predetermined majors, and narrative evaluations instead of letter grades. Hampshire belongs to the Five Colleges Consortium, through which students may take classes at neighboring Smith College, Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, and University of Massachusetts. Its 800-acre campus is located in Amherst, 90 miles west of Boston.Worcester Polytechnic InstituteMERIT:Average Cost:More Information
Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., 45 miles west of Boston, WPI was one of the nation’s earliest technological universities. From our founding days, we’ve taken a unique approach to science and technology education. The curriculum is both innovative and practical. Small classes, a flexible, hands-on curriculum, and one-on-one interaction with top-notch professors make learning at WPI an experience unlike any other. Students complete projects on campus and around the globe. They connect what they have learned in the classroom with pressing real-life challenges from human health and the environment to business and engineering.LaSalle College – VancouverMERIT:Average Cost:More Information
LaSalle College Vancouver (LCV) opened its doors in 1998 as an English as second language school (ESL). In 2002, the school began to focus and expand on design-based programs such in Fashion Design, Fashion Merchandising, Artistic Make-up, Interior Design, Jewellery Design, Graphic Design, and 2D/3D Animation as well as on-line training programs in Interior Design, Fashion Marketing, Video Game 3D Modelling, and Administrative Assistant.Drexel UniversityMERIT:Average Cost:More Information
Drexel University, founded in 1891, is a private university. It has a strong coop program that enhances students’ career development. Programs are offered through the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business and Administration, Engineering, and Information Sciences and Technology, and Nesbitt College of Design Arts. Its 38-acre campus is located in the University City area of West Philadelphia.Champlain CollegeMERIT:Average Cost:More Information
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:More Information
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:More Information
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:More Information
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:More Information
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:More Information
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:More Information
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:More Information
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:More Information
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.