Cool Majors: Game Design

Cool Majors: Game Design

Many students now love gaming, but how about designing games? Interested in joining the highest grossing entertainment industry, with annual revenues that have blown past the revenues of both the music and movie industries combined? Game Design is an up-and-coming major, with many universities funding new e-sports teams and games research centers like the NYU Game Center. But as an admissions consultant who has worked with Game Design students for over a decade, I have seen how countless students misunderstand what studying Game Design actually entails at a university level. In fact, Game Design majors often have far lower than average acceptance rates compared to other more traditional majors! UC Irvine’s top-ranking Game Design and Interactive Media major has a 17% transfer acceptance rate (more than 4 out of every 5 applicants are rejected), compared to 21% for Computer Science and an overall 43% transfer acceptance rate.

So, what do you need to know before deciding on this major? Read on to find out!

What is Game Design?

Game Design majors emphasize an interdisciplinary skillset, combining computer science, business, art and animation, design, and project management. Whether you’re looking to work on games as a project director, programmer, or artist, modern triple-A games made by major companies now involve production teams larger than movie crews. Game Design majors give students the interdisciplinary knowledge, experience, and connections to get involved in the games industry immediately after graduation.

What do Game Design majors study?

Each university can have different emphases within their Game Design programs, but they are often categorized as a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) degree. BFA degrees typically require more work than a typical BA/BS degree, involving practical studio and project times rather than just academic learning. Because of the interdisciplinary nature and scope of Game Design, many universities allow students to start the major from either a Computer Science / Programming angle, or from an Art / Music / Animation angle, with students meeting in the middle as they complete the major.

But at its heart, Game Design is about design thinking – human-centric design that emphasizes user experiences and promotes innovation in the design process. For that reason, many Game Design programs will also train business and project management skills, and not just programming or art. With numerous opportunities to join game creation jams and expos, students graduate with the practical experience to get involved in the industry immediately.

What kind of career opportunities are there for Game Design majors?

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the major, students are well placed to join the game industry immediately after graduation. But with programming and business skills being a fundamental part of the major, graduates of Game Design would also be able to transition into other tech careers or business. Game design students with a heavier emphasis on art, animation, and music would also be well placed into other related industries such as the cinema industry and advertising.

How should I prepare for a Game Design major?

With games being a huge part of the major, I advise students to get a good understanding of gaming trends and developments, both in digital and traditional games. As an example, NYU’s game design application asks students to compare both video games and non-digital games and explain what makes each type meaningful. Without understanding how games have evolved and adapted across generations, students can find it difficult to understand how innovations in games were meaningful in their time and place.

Getting involved in design, whether designing games, computer programs, or art projects would also be extremely helpful. Because Game Design is often a BFA degree, the application process is very focused on portfolios. Admissions officers for Game Design programs understand that many students approach the major from different starting points, and thus often have diverse options for submitting a portfolio – a game design document (GDD), original artwork, 3d models, and more. My students who have completed successful portfolios for game design have submitted everything from fully fleshed out game creation plans, art mock-ups of a hypothetical expansion to a student’s favorite MMO, indie games, and high school studio artwork. No matter what you end up submitting, admissions officers are looking for highly motivated students who understand that Game Design is about design, and not just gaming.

Quantum Prep is an education consultancy that focuses on placing their students at the best colleges or universities. We boast of diverse results. In addition to the traditional rap sheet of prestigious university acceptances, our consultants like to highlight the different paths they have sent students on. All of our students are different; we are proud of our one-on-one tailored approach towards university counselling. Contact us for a complimentary 30-minute initial meeting, where you can get tailored individualized advice on how to put your best foot forward. Read our reviews to see what our clients think of us.

By Conrad Yu, Director of Development

Published 18-06-2024

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