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America's Top 5 Game Design Colleges

by Buffy Naillon, studioD

With the proliferation of video game consoles, mobile apps and computer games, the demand for game developers and designers has grown. While it's possible to get a job in this industry without a degree, the Creative Uncut website points out that most students cannot develop an outstanding portfolio without the help of a degree program. Most often this comes from attending a top-notch college. The five best game design colleges in the U.S. exist in close proximity to the major video game production houses, giving students not only the skills they need, but access to industry contacts as well.


At the University of California - Los Angeles, video game development students learn about game design against a backdrop of an immersion in the liberal arts. In the Department of Design Media Arts, students gain first-hand access to the school's game lab, which teaches students the practical know-how that they need to make games. The program allows for a multidisciplinary approach to making games; it brings together students from departments as varied as computer science and dance to give students a holistic approach to making games.

University of Utah

The University of Utah finds its home in Salt Lake City. This video game design program brings together students from the Department of Film and Media Arts and the School of Computing. Students in the program develop skills such as drawing, animation and storyboarding; they also learn about game engines and artificial intelligence. The capstone projects of the school's students are published on Xbox Live, giving these aspiring game makers exposure in the game industry.

Drexel University

Drexel University calls Philadelphia home, and this video game design program allows students from the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design and students from the Computer Science Department in the College of Engineering to work together. This connection teaches students to put their work in a larger context. Students learn about art history, drawing, digital storytelling and digital media. They also come away from their educational experiences with the know-how to use software such as Maya and 3D Studio Max. Finally, they have the opportunity to learn about designing experimental, educational and mobile games.

Rochester Institute of Technology

The Rochester Institute of Technology -- also known as RIT -- offers a bachelor's and a master's in game design. The school prides itself on providing students with a program which blurs the lines between the arts and the sciences, to create state-of-the-art video games. It also does important research in areas such as getting girls to participate in video game play and how educators can use video games in the classroom. Finally, the curriculum evolves as the game industry does, allowing students to graduate with the most up-to-date skills possible.

University of Central Florida

Orlando, Florida, isn't just for people who want a Disney World vacation; it's also a top destination for would-be video game designers. The University of Central Florida offers a graduate degree in game development, which takes students from various undergraduate majors. According to the school's website, students come into the program with bachelor's degrees in subjects such as illustration, architecture and programming. Three specializations exist in art, production or programming. Depending upon the track, students develop traditional art skills, learn about texturing and modeling, the marketing of video games or how to create a dummy game start-up studio.

About the Author

Buffy Naillon has worked in the media industry since 1999, contributing to Germany's "Der Spiegel" magazine and various websites. She received a bachelor's degree in German from Boise State University. Naillon also attended New York University and participated in the foreign exchange program at Germany's Saarland University. She is completing her master's degree in educational technology at Boise State.

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