The gaming industry in the US is thriving, and an increasing number of international students are turning their passion for video games into careers designing video games. However, there is much research to be done prior to enrolling in a game design program in the United States. This article provides an overview of the discipline, its academic nature, and a brief description of what careers a degree in game design will enable a graduate to acquire.
An increasingly popular decision for international students coming to study in the United States is to pursue a degree in the field of game design. Nearly everyone loves video games, and a career in game design in the US is a dream come true for many international students. Studying game design in the US qualifies international students for a fulfilling and lucrative career opportunity. The time for international students to apply to programs in the US has never been better, given declines in domestic enrollment rates and a thriving video game industry with exceptionally large production budgets. For those international students considering making the decision to study game design in the US, this page will serve as a guide to orient and inform individuals about the discipline itself and the process for studying game design. It will also answer many common questions that arise along the way.
What is game design?
So, what is game design? Game design is a subset of video game development, and as such, game designers must be both creative and technically skilled. Game designers imagine, plan, and then actually build video games. Focusing on system design, level design and narrative design, game designers create the stories, levels, rules, and environments that will define the gaming experiences of tomorrow. Although game designers are not explicitly visual artists, programmers, project managers or creative writers, they may very well serve in such capacities on game development teams. Creativity, technical programming skill and a love of video games are at the heart of game design in the US, and most game design programs offer a robust curriculum that balances these three features.
What courses does a student of game design in the US take?
International students who study game design in the US will receive technical training for the programming and digital design skills required to create video games, as well as become familiar with an overview of the various steps of video game creation. There is a focus on technical skills related to coding and rendering different aspects of the game being designed. This equips international students who study game design to fill valuable roles on professional development teams, creating the next must-have title for gamers.
International students may be wondering what courses they can expect to take if they study game design in the US. Typical courses that an international student can expect to take if they study game design in the US include:
- Game history and development
- Introduction to game design
- Computer theory
- Game technology
- Principles of game design
- Game production
- Level design
- 3D modeling
- Narrative design
- Game systems
- Experience design
- Software architecture
- 3D content creation
- Engine development
- Game rules
- Image rendering
- Software engineering
- Structure of game design
- Linear algebra
- Public speaking
Often, the titles of the above courses will vary between institutions, but the content and form of the degree is fairly uniform.
What jobs are available in the field of game design in the US?
International students who study game design in the US will be prepared to serve in a number of capacities on a development team. Game designers are at the top of the pyramid, and most often start out as artists, programmers or testers and get promoted. Though many of these jobs on a production team are specialized areas in which a student may receive a degree as well, a degree in game design encompasses the following possible roles:
- Concept/storyboard artist
- Systems designer
- Digital animator
- Texture artists
- Creative writer
- Storyline editor
- Character artist/animator
- Level designer
- Game tester
What are some reputable places to study game design in the US?
After deciding to study game design in the US, international students will need to locate possible institutions with quality game design programs. Some prominent schools to study game design in the US include:
- Full Sail University (Winter Park, FL)
- University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
- Massachusetts Institutde of Technology (Cambridge, MA)
- University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)
- DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, WA)
- Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)
- Shawnee State University (Portsmouth, OH)
- Savannah College of Art & Design (Savannah, GA)
- University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM)
- Becker College (Worcester, MA)
- Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA)
The game design programs offered at these institutions are continuing to draw international students to exciting and lucrative careers in game design in the US! If you would like to study game design, check out which school will suit your needs best so you can begin your studies as soon as possible.