Self Improvement

Mandy Kloppers

The Top 50 Schools for Game Design

You know definitively that you want to study game design. Now the only looming question is – where will you apply? Luckily for you, we’ve surveyed 150 institutions to find the top undergraduate and graduate programs for 2019.

Take a peek at the list!

Of course, you shouldn’t choose a school based on ranking alone. Here are a few other factors to consider:

Broad Curriculum
The best programs place game design in a broader academic and professional context. They encourage students to embrace everything from art history and storytelling to coding, robotics, and even sound design.

Cutting Edge Technology
It’s important to research the facilities at each school you’re considering. Will they give you access to emerging technologies like AR and VR? The more familiarity you have with these things, the more competitive you’ll be once you hit the job market.

Coop Programs
Some top game design schools require their students to participate in a coop program. In turn, this provides undergrads with fantastic real-world experience. They gain a unique insight into how their studies apply to a professional setting. And they’re able to start building out their network before they’ve even graduated.

Portfolio Creation
Many schools incorporate hands-on projects into their curriculum. This often means that students have the opportunity to collaborate on a game with their peers, design their own game or both. This will also be invaluable when job hunting as you’ll have tangible proof of your skills and creativity.

Want to learn more about what majoring in game design actually entails? Check out our in-depth profile here.

Did You Know

The median annual wage for special effects artists and animators was $75,270 in May 2019. (The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.) The lowest 10 percent earned less than $40,250, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $139,940.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Special Effects Artists and Animators (Visited March 2021)

Game Design: How to Best Prep for the Major

As game design grows in popularity, programs are bound to become more competitive. We’ve compiled a few ways you can strengthen your skills, differentiate yourself from your fellow applicants and stand out from the pack:

Hone Your Communication Skills
Game design is not typically a solitary profession or pursuit. Designers often work in teams and collaborate on almost every aspect. Therefore, to be successful, you must have strong communication skills. Indeed, you need to understand how to clearly articulate your ideas as well as gracefully accept critiques. To sharpen this skillset, consider joining the debate team or writing for the school newspaper. Both activities will force you to think about how you choose your words, construct an argument and tell a story. And you’re sure to become a better communicator as a result.

Get Your Art On
Are you interested in the graphics aspects of gaming? If so, you will definitely want to strengthen your art fundamentals. Take a few classes to learn about color and composition. And certainly, put pencil to paper. After all, the more you draw the better you’ll get. We also recommend trying your hand at some software tools. Free programs like Blender allow you to familiarize yourself with certain design functions and practice tasks like 3D modeling.

Design a Game
You don’t have to wait until college to begin designing games. Start now! This is a great way to test ideas in a low-pressure environment. You can take your time fleshing out the game mechanics, the characters and the narrative arc. Worried you don’t have the right tools? Fortunately, there are online programs you can use to build your game. Some of these will even offer the option of learning basic coding. And this might help put you ahead of the curve once your studies begin in earnest.

Read more about what it takes to succeed in a game design program here.

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash