A look at video game design majors

You have a passion for video games. Who doesn't right? And you are seriously considering getting a career in the industry. You know that you will need a degree to break into this industry but you are not sure what kind of degree you should get.

I have some solid information for you here when it comes to the various majors that are available to you and I have tied this in to a university that has these majors and degrees. The college is the University of Advancing technology and they have both on campus and online programs.


On the UAT website they have a whole lot more information about their programs and how you can get a degree through either their online or on campus programs. Here is the link to their main Game Degrees website: University of Advancing Technology Game Degrees website and here is a link to their Online degrees site: UAT Online Game Degrees

And you might want to check out their main University website. Lot of great stuff there: University of Advancing Technology


Maybe you are considering a career in the video game industry but you are not exactly sure which kind of degree you should get? One thing is absolutely for sure: If you want to break into the video game you really have to get a degree! Game development is a high level skill in a mature industry and there is lots of competition. Getting a degree will give you the skills and experience you need to get your career started.

What kind of Degree should you get?

But... you might be thinking about what kind of degree should you get. Is there such a thing as a "Make Video Games" Bachelors degree?

The answer to that is no because the video game industry is a big and vibrant industry and making a game is a collaborative effort between many different types of skills. So you have to consider what kind of skills you have, what kind of skills you want to develop and where that fits you into the game industry.

Deciding how you want to pursue a career in video games

There are quite a few different degrees and skill sets that are desirable to game companies and so you can get a good understanding of the basics I have broken it down into four different disciplines (or four different people types) You can look these over and see which might be right for you. From there you can see which type of degree is a match.

Take a look at these categories and think about what might be the right skill set for you and for what you like to do.

A generalized look at four paths you could choose in video game design:

  1. The Artist - 2d and 3d modeling, drawing, lighting and creation of scenes and characters
  2. The Designer - An overall look at game making including interaction, writing, storytelling, documentation, concepts of games and more.
  3. The Scientist - Progamming skills are more the focus. You learn things like C++ and DirectX/Open GL. You are more involved in the computing process of game making and how to get the computer or console to create a game. There is more mathematics involved in this.
  4. The Boss - This is more of a management position where you lead teams set goals and work through the complete process of game development from concept through storyboarding, prototyping, documentation and testing.

Now let's take a look at the UAT programs that match these skill sets:

  • (The Artist) Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in Game Art and Animation - What Will you learn in this program? Students in the Game Art and Animation program will gain an insight into what is involved at all levels of game development to create 2D and 3D art assets for multiple video game platforms such as PC, consoles, handheld games, Internet ,phone and other hybrids. Students will master the artistic principles used in 2D and 3D video games art asset creation such as color theory, lighting, shading, anatomy, life drawing, perspective, scene staging, modeling low polygon and high polygon, 3D mesh topology, texturing, rigging, hand key character and prop animations as well as motion capture and facial animation.
  • (The Designer) Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in Game Design - What will you learn in this program? Game Design students focus on the design principles, skills and techniques required to create the systems, design documents and prototypes for complete game projects. Courses will emphasize design skills such as strong initial concepts, game documentation, game balance and play-testing, interactive storytelling and interface design. Students in the Game Design program will also develop a critical approach to the study of gameplay, interaction and design. In a team-based environment, design students will work with artists and programmers to create completed projects. Game Design students will also be exposed to all the tools of the trade, as well as programming and art skill sets. This well-rounded approach provides students with a deep understanding of all aspects in the game creation process.
  • (The Scientist) Bachelor of Science with a concentration in Game Programming What will you learn in this program? All the great game ideas and designs in the world would be for naught without people with the skills to make these ideas reality. That's where the game programmers come in. Electronic games rely on their code base to realize the design, interaction and visual aspects of the play experience. Courses in game programming will emphasize the essential issues and the skills required to develop games for multiple platforms such as web, console, PC and mobile devices. These skills have broader applications in related industries; for example in entertainment, business, research and training. Game programming students focus on programming principles, skills and techniques shared in all programming disciplines but focus on programming game-specific issues. Game programming emphasizes C++ programming, scripting, data handling, DirectX/Open GL development, game engine architecture, gameplay system, artificial intelligence, networking and more. Students in game programming will also develop a critical approach to the study of gameplay, interaction and design.
  • (The Boss) Master of Science in Game Production and Management (Their program for this is on campus only) You will learn things like leading a project team through all the various stages of game development such as design, documentation, development and testing.

So, what is entailed in getting a degree in one of these fields? UAT has a very standard set up for achieving your degree. Depending on whether you go for a science or arts degree the program will be something like this:

  • 120 Credits minimum to get a degree
  • 36 credit requirement in General education like Humanities, Social sciences and Natural sciences
  • 36 credit requirement in your Major
  • A variety of other requirements to make 120 credits depending on program

So What kind of classes would you be taking?

I will skip over the generalized University level couses and lets look at the meat and potatoes courses that are involved in game design, game art, and game development. Some of this stuff is a whole lot of fun! These are actual courses from the Game Art and Animation Bachelors Degree Program.

  • Storyboarding
  • Communicating with Color
  • Basic Character Figure Drawing
  • 3D Modeling
  • Game Animation
  • Texturing and Surfacing using Photoshop

And here are some from the Game Design Bachelors degree program:

  • 2D Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Game AI concepts (AI means Artificial Intelligence)
  • Advanced Level Design
  • Serious Game design
  • The Business of Gaming
  • Game Production and Documentation

The Video Game Industry is a vibrant and exciting industry and there are lots of great opportunities within it. And these are opportunities of all different types. You can work yourself right into the industry doing something that you really love to do whether it be artwork, design work, programming or management among other things.

On the UAT website they have a whole lot more information about their programs and how you can get a degree through either their online or on campus programs. Here is the link to their main Game Degrees website: University of Advancing technology Game Degrees website and here is a link to their Online degrees site: UAT Online Game Degrees

And you might want to check out their main University website. Lot of great stuff there: University of Advancing technology

 

 

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