Video Game Design Schools and College Programs
Check out some 2016 programs offering video game design
Some of the most cutting-edge, exciting careers are in the video game industry. Game designers bring their ideas to this industry, working with programmers and artists in a studio to see their vision come to life.
But is it possible to be one of those lucky people who actually make it as a video game designer in a studio? With enough talent, training, and a good demo reel, you CAN. But you'll most likely need the right training to get started.
Below we have included some video game design school & college program listings. With locations in the US, Canada & Online, there should be some options to consider that are close by.
Game design school listings
Don't let your parents nag you about your late night video game fix anymore. Request information, find out if a program might be a good fit, and go from there.
The video game designer
As a video game designer, you will often be responsible for creating a game prototype. This early work gives the team a foundation to work from. Responsibilities can include developing core elements such as the interface, controls, and game systems. Once established, team members can flesh out the art and technical aspects of the game.
It is worth mentioning that the role of a video game designer will vary from studio to studio. Some job listings will have a more responsibilities listed while others might have less. There can often be job responsibility overlap between a designer, programmers, and the artists.
Some video game designers will have a more hands-on involvement later in the process. Other game designers will focus more on the initial stages only and let other team members do the rest.
What often determines the scope of responsibilities is the size of the team. Smaller teams will often need each member to take on more responsibilities. Indie teams might have one person doing the code, another the art, and a third handling the rest. Larger studios often will have far more specific roles for each team member.
The artistic side of designing a game
As a game designer, you will need to be familiar with the artistic aspects of game design, and how they work together. There can often be a variety of positions in the art department such as....
The concept artist works with the game designer early on, creating sketches and paintings. This concept art will give the other art team members an idea of what the designer wants visually. Character artists, environment artists, and texture artists all depend on the concept artist's work.
Coding a game
Video game graphics get much of the glory and attention from gamers and reviewers. The visuals would mean nothing though without great programming to put it all together. Game code is the backbone for gameplay, artificial intelligence, physics, and more. It delivers everything into a streamlined, playable product. There can be a variety of programming specialists such as:
Programmers tweak the game engine searching for the right balance between visuals and performance. What kind of balance then dictates texture resolution, the extent of details, and so on. Some developers, for example, will want a game locked at 60fps. Choosing 30fps though means can push the graphics further. They might opt for this to reach their original artistic vision.
What should you be looking for in a program?
One big mistake some potential students make is choosing any old program that has the title "Video Game Design" slapped onto it. If you narrow down some schools programs, make sure to ask questions before moving forward.
The employment rate of their recent graduates is something you need to inquire about. Months of curriculum are useless if the grads don't land a good related job.
Also find out what experience the instructors have in game development. Someone who has actual game design experience outside of the classroom is essential.
Good programs will have game industry guest speakers doing sessions from time to time. This gives you a chance to hear about things relevant to the industry at the time, and allows you to get answers from a game design insider.
Programs need to focus on building a strong portfolio or demo reel. It's a good idea to ask to see some former students work to view some of the end results of the program. This kind of thing is sometimes on the school website. It's also fair game to ask where some of the students are working currently. If they can't provide this, it should bring up some red flags.
A good school will often have a close relationship with some game studios. Some of these studios know that the graduates from a particular program make a good hire. They know the graduate will have the foundation to succeed. This kind of connection is a good indicator of a strong program. It also means it might be easier to land a job in that particular studio.
In the end, there are many training options focused on the development of video games. Not all school options are equal though, so make sure to get informed before you make any decisions. You need to know that when you graduate you will have the start you need to get into the video game industry and do well. Get educated on what's out there, ask questions, and go from there.
Do you really need a degree?
One thing many potential game designers wonder is if they need a game design degree to make it in this field. A good question to ask is what kind of game designer do you want to become?
If you want to be an indie game developer, chances are you do not need a degree. Most indie game developers are self-taught when it comes to game design. That said, training in programming, graphics software and that sort of thing can go a long way. But getting a degree specifically in game design is not necessary. Reading books, going through tutorials, and asking questions on forums will go a long way.
If though you want to land a job at a game studio, you will need to hit the ground running. While upgrading of skills is a life-long process, presenting proficiency to a company is vital. A respected degree in game design or related fields will give the studio some assurance that you have what it takes. A good program will help you create the right type of demo reel or portfolio to get noticed.
Please note though that some programs are not as respected, so make sure to ask those questions we covered earlier. :)
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