If you want to design video and computer games, but have no clue where to start hunting the right school, I've researched and provide you a powerhouse list below in three categories: the 5 best undergrad, graduate, and online game design schools.
The Top 5 Video Game Design Undergraduate Schools
On March 1, 2012, The Princeton Review, touted as one of America's best-known education services companies, released its list of the top 50 video game design schools for 2012, crowning the University of Southern California at #1.
USC's School of Cinematic Arts offers students a game design program that includes courses in sound and design for games, game development, experiential games, and business management of games.
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): MIT's Comparative Media Studies (CMS) program features the art, science and business of games; creating video games, writing for video games, and more.
The Princeton Review Senior VP/Publisher Robert Franek hails, "we highly recommend MIT as one of the best and most innovate institutions to study and succeed in this exciting field."
3. University of Utah: the U.'s Entertainment Arts and Engineering program, an interdisciplinary cross between the School of Computing and the Department of Film and Media Arts programs, lets you learn what you need to know to design the killer game.
4. DigiPen Institute of Technology: this college is strictly a gaming school, offering programs that each teach specific skills important to game design: computer engineering, computer science in real-time interactive simulation, engineering and sound design, and offers both undergrad and graduate degrees.
5. The Art Institute of Vancouver: make a beeline for this school's Media Arts curriculum to access their 5 gaming degrees: Game Programming, 3D Modeling for Animation and Games, Game Art and Design, Visual and Game Programming, and Animation Art and Design.
The Top 5 Video Game Design Graduate Schools
1. University of Southern California: USC made quite a sweep this year - education-portal.com ranks USC as the #1 video game school as well, so you'll earn massive bragging rights with a USC Masters degree. Oh, and the program's really good, too.
2. Rochester Institute of Technology: the school's Game Design & Development Master of Science program offers computer graphics design, human-computer interaction, interactive narrative, and game design.
3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): this one's a no-brainer, right? If you already have a Bachelors degree in gaming and want to cap it off in style, MIT's one of the premier tech schools in which to do it.
4. University of Central Florida (UCF): UCF's Master of Science in Interactive Entertainment is offered through its Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA). According to the site, students learn "game design, creative collaboration, rapid prototyping, 3-D animation and modeling, documentation, software engineering, legal and ethical issues, preproduction, and postmortems", all in the heart of downtown Orlando, FL.
5. Southern Methodist University (SMU): the Master of Interactive Technology (MIT) in Digital Game Development program takes you through the game design from start to finish: level design, software design, production, and more. According to the site, students team together to create three gaming projects.
The Top 5 Online Video Game Design Schools
On a tight schedule or have a family? Bestcolleges.org provides this helpful list of the top accredited online video game design schools for 2011-2012:
1. International Academy of Design and Technology (IADT): this school readies students for the industry with courses that include asset development and integration, team collaboration (can't pull off a game without a team), game play, and business operations. You'll walk away with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game Design & Production.
2. DeVry University: DeVry's program not only readies you for the gaming industry, but also the equally promising world of electronic simulation.
According to BestColleges.com, "Students will learn the coding languages, visual design principles, and software methods used in everything from the development of video games, to crime scene reconstruction, to corporate training software and more."
3. Post University: this school offers an Online Certificate in Game Design & Animation, so its program is far more brief. It'll teach you what you need to know to create video games in 15 credit hours, and can be taken as part of another major, or on its own.
4. University of Advancing Technology: this Bachelor's program cumulatively builds your game design skills and knowledge with each new class, building on the previous course as you progress. You learn key skills such as game balance and play-testing, interactive storytelling, game documentation, and interface design.
5. Westwood College: as with most gaming degrees, Westwood's Bachelors program empowers you to create a game prototype, and you'll showcase your final game in the school's annual 2D Game Development Competition, judged by industry professionals.
Sound inviting? Come on down.
If video game development is your dream, jump on it. All these schools offer you the skills to create one from start to finish. And who knows - you might find you excel in one specific skill and can sharpen your focus on that once you graduate.
This post offers schools that suit every living situation, so let nothing stop you, especially something as easily accessible as knowledge. Make your greatness happen.
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Flickr photo by Marco Arment.