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Game Development Schools

One maxim that has been true from the earliest days of computing technology and onward: where there are computers, there are games. The microprocessor has been linked to both productivity and entertainment since its creation. The early computer games were primitive electronic translations of traditional board and card games, or minimalist versions of sports like table tennis (Pong, anyone?). The limitations of early graphics meant that most old-school computer games were highly text-based, and audio was limited to a few select beeps and boops. And, due to the mostly non-networked nature of early home computers and video game consoles, electronic games were usually limited to a single player experience.

As computing technology advanced, so did computer games. On the hardware side, more powerful sound cards enabled stereo music and voice delivery capabilities. New computer displays came with higher resolutions and increased color palettes, driven by new graphics adapters with faster processors and more video memory (VRAM) that resulted in more dynamic and detailed visuals.

Software programming was advancing alongside the hardware. New device drivers and iterative improvements to programming languages enabled the creation of games with more complex game logic, and "smarter" computer opponents for players to face off with.

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In many ways, computer gaming was the primary force behind the feverish evolution of computing technology during the last decade of the 20th century. The consumer desire for more sophisticated and entertaining computer games was the motivation behind increasingly more powerful PC hardware and software. The end result was a lucrative home PC market based on a constantly updating list of faster, more powerful components. This booming market activity would not have been sparked by home and office productivity software alone, as it usually required less processing, memory, and display power than PC games.

Today, the computer game industry is one of the largest entertainment industries in the world. A 2013 Reuters news story reported that global video game market revenue is expected to reach $78 billion by 2017. This includes games played on PCs, on dedicated video game consoles like Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's Playstation, and on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Major game studios are now making higher profits than major Hollywood studios.

All of this activity has led to opportunities for game designers and developers. Whether it's working for gaming software houses or creating the hot new mobile game from the comfort of their home office, designers and devs are benefiting from the hot market in computer gaming.

What does a game developer do?

Game devs create all of the code and software linkages necessary to fulfill the requirements of a computer game's design blueprint. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the following specialized game programmer roles:

  • Artificial intelligence programmers
  • Graphics programmers
  • Lead programmers with supervisory roles
  • Network specialists who enable multi-player online experiences
  • Physics programmers who write the game code for natural laws such as gravity
  • Tools programmers who can automate tasks for team members
  • User interface programmers who collaborate with designers and artists

With a small game (like a mobile phone app), there may only be one game dev involved. Major game studios have hundreds of devs working on specialized teams in roles like the ones listed above. As with other software companies, all of the developers working on a game must communicate and collaborate with each other, from pre-production all the way through post-production.

What does a game designer do?

The terms "software developer" and "software designer" are often used interchangeably. However, there is a key distinction between the two roles. Developers are the ones who create all of the code that enables the software to do all that it has to do. Designers are the ones who decide what the software should do, how it should look and sound, and how users should interact with the software.

Game designers work alone or as part of a creative team to design all of the user-facing aspects of a game. The design team for a computer game can include one or more of the following professionals:

  • Graphic artists
  • Sound engineers and Foley artists
  • Musicians and composers
  • Story and dialogue writers
  • Voice-over actors
  • Motion capture actors
  • Game theorists and mechanics experts

Game designers and devs each have some knowledge of what the other does, which helps during the collaboration phase where a game design becomes a living piece of software.

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The computer gaming industry presents attractive opportunities for individuals with a passion for arts and technology and specific interests in computer game development. In order to take advantage of the exciting career options in computer gaming, consider the pursuit of computer game programming and design training. Here are some things to know about getting a degree in this field and what to expect after graduation.

How a game design degree works

A career in the computer game programming and design field requires a unique blend of skills ranging from the creative and artistic to the technical and functional. Because of this, individuals looking to pursue a career in the computer gaming industry should incorporate a range of coursework in their degree plan.

Elements of software engineering, computer programming, graphic design, and multimedia art should be an integral part, with both classroom and practical experience involved. Depending on whether an individual is more interested in the art aspects of computer game design or the technology of game engineering and programming, one might pursue additional electives in one area or the other. But to become a true game developer, it is wise to become proficient in both the art and technology of computer game development.

Depending on the emphasis for artistic versus technical training, computer game programming and design training will typically lead to one of two degrees. A Bachelor of Fine Arts with focus on computer game design is appropriate for those with a strong interest in the design of computer games. This degree would focus more on the dramatization and storytelling components of a computer game. On the other hand, for those with stronger technical interests, a typical degree program would culminate in a B.S. in Computer Science with a focus on computer game engineering and programming. Either degree will contain coursework in the following subject areas:

  • Computer Programming and Software Engineering
  • Game Design and Development
  • Data and Computer Systems
  • Electives in the liberal arts and other core courses

Most computer game programming and design degree programs will also include a supervised studio component where students build on their practical skills of game design. Here, students have a chance to try new techniques and turn their classroom-learned skills into reality. Students will often complete a capstone project during their senior year which is a critical piece of a graduate's portfolio to show potential employers.

What is the job outlook for game developers?

The job market for all software developers (including game devs) is likely to grow substantially over the next decade, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job TitleProjected 2012-2022 Growth
Software Developers, Applications - U.S.22%
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

What is the salary outlook for game developers?

Software developers continue to feature well in compensation statistics from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Game developers fall into this categorization.

*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

What is the job outlook for game designers?

While the US Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't track data specifically for computer game designers, it does have numbers available for the category "Computer Software Engineers, Applications." These are designers of software applications primarily for the productivity market, but this category can be helpful when discussing the job market for game designers.

Job TitleProjected 2012-2022 Growth
Computer Programmers - U.S.8%
*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

What is the salary outlook for game designers?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not keep salary information for computer game designers, but it does have statistics for the job category "Software Developers, Applications." This information is a useful starting point when researching compensation for game designers.

*This data is sourced from the 2013 BLS employment report (BLS.gov)

Many people looking to break into the computer game industry as a designer or dev choose to enrich their resumes by earning one or more IT certifications, which are offered by several hardware and software vendors, and from vendor-neutral industry associations.

When it comes to computer game design and development, the most relevant technical certifications are those based on the programming languages and software tools used to create games. Some of the relevant certification vendors for this field include the following:

  • Microsoft (programming languages like C#; software design with Visual Studio)
  • Adobe (software tools like Flash, InDesign, and Premiere Pro)
  • Oracle (the Java programming language)
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Game Development Schools

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5 Program(s) Found
  • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
  • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
  • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
  • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
  • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
  • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
  • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
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  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
2 Program(s) Found
  • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Scholarship and financial aid opportunities are available for students who qualify.
  • Offers programs in film, game production & design, animation & VFX, music production, and more.
  • Features several on-campus facilities, including recording studios, sound stages, threatres, and more.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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  • Financial Aid
5 Program(s) Found
  • Students who qualify may apply for the Opportunity Scholarship, which can help lower education costs.
  • Offers career-focused, degree programs to over 70,000 students at over 140 ITT Technical Institutes in 35 states.
  • Classes are offered year-round, with day and evening course options.
  • Online courses can be accessed from anywhere, 24 hours a day.
  • Nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.
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  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
  • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
  • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
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  • Online Courses
2 Program(s) Found
  • Dedicated to providing a hands-on, career-focused education since 1953.
  • Offers classes online, as well as at 14 campuses across California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois and Virginia.
  • Develops curriculum with input from employers, subject matter experts.
  • Has small class sizes to promote one-on-one, student-teacher interaction.
  • Makes no-cost tutoring available in every subject to every enrolled student.
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  • Accredited
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
2 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Ranked among the Best Online MBA Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Founded in 1890, it has a campus in Waterbury, CT and offers online degree program in eight-week modules, six times a year.
  • About 800 students are enrolled at the main campus, and about half of them commute.
  • Online courses make it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 18 months and a master’s degree in 14-24 months.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Part of the Lincoln Group of Schools.
  • Lincoln Group of Schools made over $12 million available through scholarships to qualified students in 2014.
  • Lincoln Group of Schools were designated a Military Friendly School for the 6th year in a row by Victory Media.
  • Campuses are accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) and Accrediting Commission of Career Schools (ACCSC).
  • 8 campuses across the United States.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
3 Program(s) Found
PC Age , Parsippany
  • An accredited university offering certification in the Information Technology (IT) field since 1991.
  • Has a copyrighted, scientifically-validated computer aptitude test.
  • Provides online and on campus classes at 3 convenient locations across New Jersey.
  • Offers career services to help graduates secure jobs in the IT field.
  • Gives students the chance to complete Internetwork Engineer training programs in 9-12 months.
  • Allows qualifying students to retake courses free of charge.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
2 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
  • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
  • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
  • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
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  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Part of the Lincoln Group of Schools.
  • Lincoln Group of Schools made over $12 million available through scholarships to qualified students in 2014.
  • Designated a Military Friendly School for the 6th year in a row by Victory Media.
  • First campus was opened in 1946, now with 22 campuses across the United States.
  • Campuses are accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), Accrediting Commission of Career Schools (ACCSC), and Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
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  • Accredited
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • 95% alumni satisfaction rate.
  • Currently holds more than 500 professional alliances, including 19 of the top Fortune 100 companies.
  • Potential students may preview a free, one-week mini course to get an accurate impression of the student experience.
  • Courses are taught by expert faculty, with 86% of professors possessing a doctoral degree.
  • Offers credit for prior experience and learning, as well as scholarships, accelerated programs, and several other ways to help reduce tuition costs.
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  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
3 Program(s) Found
ECPI University , Glen Allen
  • Named a Best for Vets school by the Military Times in 2014.
  • Has specialized in student-centered technology, business, criminal justice, health science, and culinary education for over 45 years.
  • Makes it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in 2.5 years or an associate’s in 1.5 years by providing a year-round schedule.
  • Offers externships and clinical experience that help students prepare for life after they graduate.
  • Has 10 campuses across the mid-Atlantic, plus online degree programs.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
3 Program(s) Found
Remington College , Fort Worth
  • Dallas campus named 2013 School of the Year by the National Association for Health Professionals (NAHP).
  • Tuition covers course-required materials for campus students, including books, lab equipment, and class supplies.
  • Offers flat tuition rate to continuously enrolled students who are on track toward program completion.
  • Campus accreditation by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
  • 18 campuses across the United States, with online options as well.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
Fortis Institute , Lawrence Township
  • Provides a 24/7 myCampusLink system that lets students access their records, e-mail, communicate with faculty, and more.
  • Designated a 2014 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Educates with the mission to serve the needs of the local community and graduates by matching opportunities to skills.
  • Offers career education in nursing, dental, business, information technology, and more. 
  • Has 44 campus locations across 15 states, with online options as well.
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  • Financial Aid
2 Program(s) Found
  • Gives students the option to enroll at any time and begin studies in the fall, spring, or summer.
  • Has an average freshman retention rate of 77.3 percent.
  • Ranked #39 in Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Reports
  • Has more than 50,000 alumni including several astronauts, CEOs, and 32 generals.
  • Offers a special tuition rate for active duty, selected reserves, National Guard service members and their spouses.
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  • Online Courses
2 Program(s) Found
  • Offers computer training certification across several platforms, including computer repair, wireless computer training, IT consulting services, with database development covering Microsoft, Cisco, VMWare, Oracle, Java, and Linux.
  • Provides a variety of computer classes to people living in the metro Detroit, Michigan community.
  • Delivers numerous computer training classes for corporations throughout the United States, onsite at their location.   
  • Distributes complete technology services and solutions to companies all over the Detroit area.
  • Facility is located in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
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5 Program(s) Found
  • Has been training students for creative careers since 1921.
  • Provides interactive course materials and unique approaches to curriculum that  support multiple learning styles.
  • Offers a 10% scholarship to eligible active duty, active and drilling members of the Reserve and National Guard. 
  • Its accelerated online courses allow students to learn new course material every 5 ½ weeks.
  • Accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
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Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
2 Program(s) Found
Keiser University Campus , Fort Lauderdale
  • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
  • Its student-faculty ratio is 11:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
  • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
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4 Program(s) Found
  • Their institutional scholarship is available to students who qualify.
  • Campus features a Creative lab, where students may learn and get practice using industry standard hardware and software.
  • Programs and courses include training in game development, graphic design, interior design, marketing and merchandising for fashion, and more.
  • Provides career placement services including an online resume building tool, portfolio assistance, and interview skill development.
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