Game design is an attractive field. Not only is the industry growing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the job is also a fun one, allowing people to get paid to play games. Most designers need at least a four-year degree to gain a competitive edge, but experience also counts for a lot. "The Princeton Review" ranked the top 15 undergraduate schools for video game design, and they are spread out around the country.
A number of four-year undergraduate programs in game design are available in the northeast. The Rochester Institute of Technology in New York ranks fourth on "The Princeton Review's" list. Its School of Interactive Games and Media offers a bachelor of science in game design and development. The program is rooted in computer science and development technology, not in artistic design. Drexel University in Philadelphia came in at number six on the list, and it offers a bachelor of science in game art and production, as well as a bachelor of science in game programming and development. Between the two programs, students who are interested in any aspect of game design can find the training they need. The program in game art and production focuses on art and animation, while the program in game programming and development focuses on computer programming and technical skills.
Students have a couple of good options in the southeast. The Savannah College of Art and Design, which comes in at number eight in "The Princeton Review," has a long history of excellence in artistic education. SCAD offers a Bachelor of Arts in interactive design and game development that moves beyond basic programming and takes a holistic approach. Digital sculpting and environment creation are just a couple of the other skills included in the program. North Carolina State University -- number 15 on the list -- offers a degree in computer science with a concentration in game development. The program focuses on fundamentals of computer programming, including the scientific and technical concepts that apply to game design.
Shawnee State University in Ohio, coming in at number seven in "The Princeton Review," offers both a Bachelor of Science in digital simulation and gaming engineering technology and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in gaming and simulation -- the former considered to be "the science of making games" and the latter "the art of making games." Students who are interested in game programming should opt for the BS, while those who are more interested in designing characters and environments should select the BFA. While technically located in the west, Utah is just on the margins of the midwest, and it is home to the top school on "The Princeton Review's" list. The University of Utah offers a bachelor of science in entertainment arts and engineering, with an emphasis on computer science. Students in the program learn about game engines, graphics, artificial intelligence and other aspects of game engineering.
Out west are the second and third best schools on the list. The University of Southern California offers a Bachelor of Arts in interactive entertainment with a minor in video game design and management. The program teaches students about level design, user interface, game mechanics, storytelling and more. At DigiPen Institute of Technology in Washington, students can earn a Bachelor of Arts in game design. The program focuses on the visual and narrative aspects of game design, and students are taught how to design, model, and build their own fully playable games.
- Rochester Institute of Technology School of Interactive Games and Media
- Drexel University: Replay
- Savannah College of Art and Design: Interactive Design and Game Development
- North Carolina State University: Computer Science
- Shawnee State University: Digital Simulation and Gaming
- University of Utah: Entertainment Arts and Engineering
- DigiPen Institute of Technology: BA in Game Design
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Working So Others Can Play: Jobs in Video Game Development
- The Princeton Review: Top Undergraduate Schools for Video Game Design
Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.