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Bachelors In

Game Design & Development Degrees

The complete guide on what you’ll learn, job prospects, university programs, and saving time and money.
on January 25, 2021

Why We Love It

  • $70,300
    Potential Avg. Salary*
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook

* Salary & growth data is based on the recent Bureau of Labor and Statistics data published at https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes271014.htm for 27-1014 Multimedia artists and animators 11/2021. Based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.

If you love to play video games, a bachelor of science in game design and development may be perfect for you. In this program, you’ll gain the skills necessary to enter the video gaming industry as a game designer. You’ll learn how to use popular design programs to develop characters, props, and landscapes that respond to player controls and delight audiences. You’ll also study the basics of game development and programming.

What is a Degree in Game Design & Development?

With a bachelor’s degree in game design and development, you’ll work on creating a portfolio over the course of your studies that may help you land your dream game design job after graduation. Students in game design programs study every aspect of video game design and development, learning how to create aesthetically pleasing, immersive, and user-friendly gaming experiences. Students learn how to design and code many different game aspects, such as scenery, characters, movements, and props.

A game design degree is part-technical and part-creative. While students study fine art techniques, they also learn to apply those techniques using coding, programming, and through popular game design programs and platforms. This allows them to take on multi-faceted roles in their careers, where they’re able to design, program, and test the games they design. By being able to bridge the gap between designer and engineer, graduates may be more appealing to prospective employers after graduation

Recommended Schools

What Courses Would I Take For a Major in Game Design & Development?

  • Psychology of Play
  • Game Design
  • Design Tools
  • Programming Foundations
  • Level Design
  • Game Mechanics
  • Game Development
  • Game Systems Integration

What Jobs Can You Get with a Degree in Game Design & Development?

While once only played by a small set of the population, video and computer games are now played in nearly every US household. The increased adoption of video gaming—particularly among today’s youth—is increasing the demand for new video games to be made. This, in turn, is increasing demand for talented video game designers. This should result in a positive outlook and sustained demand for video and computer game designers and developers in the coming decades.

How Long does it take?

A bachelors in Game Design & Development will have a typical length of 4 years in a full time schedule. That said, there are many ways to speed up the timeframe by either taking more units via online coursework, community college, or taking free classes at OnlineDegree.com that could transfer to universities in the US.

Online Game Design & Development Degree

Game design and development is not commonly available as an independent degree program but rather as a specialization for computer engineering and programming studies. However, you can still earn the bachelor degree in game design and development from some universities. Students are required to complete around 120 credit hours in addition to a capstone project to earn the bachelor degree.


What Can You Do With a Game Design & Development Degree?

Game Design and Development is among the most advanced levels of programming and software development. Video games have reached highly advanced levels with the release of powerful gaming graphic cards and gaming consoles as Xbox and PlayStation. The value of the gaming industry was estimated in 2017 to be around $18.4 billion with around 2,500 companies working in the field. Some of the videos games generate revenues reaching billions of dollars as Super Mario which generated revenue of $17 billion. If you enjoy programming and you are a fan of video games, then you should choose game design and development.

What does game design and development student learn?

Game design and development involves development of the game idea, structure and scenario. Developers should also learn about programming at the core of their job along with the hardware aspects. Developing of some games may also include studying the psychology of the gamers, culture or history. The following courses are commonly studied in game design and development programs:

  1. Principles of game design: this course introduces the basics of game design starting from an idea to documentation, developing of a prototype and testing.  The course presents concepts as the development of the idea, story, character, game world, game mechanics and level design in addition to user experience design.
  2. Programming: students learn several courses of object oriented programming. Java and C++ are currently the most commonly used programming languages for game development.
  3. Graphic design: the graphics of the game is the most important part affecting the success of a game. Developers must learn how to develop high quality graphics that are attractive to users.
  4. Comic art, graphic novels and electronic arts: game development is essentially an advanced form of interactive art that can be divided into several types including novel writing, graphics and music.
  5. Mobile and web application development: There are currently thousands of games that are available in the form of mobile or web applications. Some of these games have achieved much success to the extent that they are played by millions of users around the world.
  6. Interaction design: Interaction makes video games unique compared to other methods of entertainment as music or movies. Interaction methods have developed greatly in the recent years with the use of augmented and virtual reality games, motion capture devices, face recognition and voice recognition technologies.
  7. Other courses: algorithms and data structures, computer networks, software engineering, media processing and multimedia computing, database systems and spatial design.

Now I have the game design and development degree…where can I work after graduating?

The industry of video games is huge with thousands of companies working in the US and around the world. One of the good sides of the gaming industry is that it provides space for freelancers or small startup companies in the market. Large companies as Sony, Electronic Arts, Nintendo and Namco have large teams for development with specialized developers. The following jobs are among the career options that you might consider after earning your degree:

  1. Game designer: you can work at this position at a startup company, a multinational large company or as a freelancer. You may also choose to develop independently a game and make it available on the mobile applications store if you have enough resources.
  2. Graphic designer: your degree in game design and development will qualify you to work in graphic design at an advanced level. Accordingly, you can use your experience in other fields as animation movies or illustrations.
  3. Computer programmer: You will have the skills for developing of games as well as other programs which is usually simpler to develop compared to games.

Should I choose a game design and development degree?

Game development is an exciting task which can be much fun if you have the passion for it. However, it is also a challenging career that can be very tedious and stressful at some stages. You need the following skills to be a successful game designer:

  1. Technical skills: programming, graphic design, video and audio editing. If you are working in a large team then you will probably be focused on one or two of these skills.
  2. Team working skills: game development is a collaborative task that involves a team or several teams of people who must work in harmony to provide a successful game.
  3. Time management and organization skills: game development is a complex and multi-stage process that requires the ability to effectively manage your time.
  4. Creativity and storytelling: game design and development is essentially an art that requires skills and talent for success.
  5. Patience and persistence: developing a game is a tedious and long process and you should have the patience to complete it.
  6. Attention to details: game codes can reach millions of lines and it takes much care to details to reach a solution to a problem with coding. Some of these problems are not detected easily and require careful testing to be discovered.

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Best Jobs for Game Design & Development Degrees

With a bachelor’s degree in game design, you can find work with some of the biggest game production companies. You can work on a team that creates games to be released on Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo consoles, or you could develop computer games that are sold on Steam. You may also be able to find work with companies like Electronic Arts (EA), Activision Blizzard, Bungie, Ubisoft, or Rockstar Games.


How to save time and money

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Get a Certificate in Game Design First

With a certificate in game design, you’ll learn the basics of creating and programming video games. Those basics can be used to begin designing independent video games for sale on popular platforms like Steam, or used as part of a design profile after earning a bachelor’s degree and seeking full-time employment. Best of all, your credits may transfer to a bachelor’s program, reducing the amount of required coursework.


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About the Author
Grant founded OnlineDegree.com with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.

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