Sunday, 26 May 2024

12 Places You Can Study Video Games

As the popularity of video games continues to soar and the industry becomes increasingly profitable, many individuals are looking for educational programs that focus on game studies. Whether you’re interested in studying video games as a major, a minor, or as a graduate student, this article will serve as a starting point to help you find the right educational institution.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Type: Private university research program

MIT offers an interesting humanities-based program in its comparative media studies department. Students can explore video games from a critical-cultural standpoint through courses such as Social and Cultural Facets of Digital Games and The Role of the Gamer. Technical courses like Fundamentals of Computational Design are also available. MIT’s program is responsible for notable research groups like the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, which focuses on global digital culture, and the Education Arcade, which explores the educational potential of games. The comparative media studies department also offers a master’s degree program.

MIT

DigiPen

Location: Redmond, Washington
Type: Institute of technology

DigiPen is a technological institute located in Redmond, Washington, close to renowned game companies like Nintendo, Bungie, and Valve. DigiPen offers focused programs in coding and design rather than humanities-based research, making it a great choice for students who know exactly what they want to pursue. Degrees available include bachelor’s degrees in digital art and animation, game design, computer science in real-time interactive simulation, and computer engineering. DigiPen also offers master’s degrees in computer science and digital arts. It’s worth noting that DigiPen is nationally accredited, but not regionally accredited, which may affect credit transfers and recognition by certain companies and schools.

DigiPen

University of Southern California

Location: Los Angeles, California
Type: Private university research program

USC offers both a BA and MFA in interactive entertainment. Undergraduate students primarily focus on the technical aspects of game design, but they also fulfill general education requirements. USC has conducted significant research on topics such as head-mounted displays for simulation games, educational games for high school students, and games for policy makers to better understand child development.

University of Southern California

New York University

Location: New York, New York
Type: Private university research program

NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts hosts the Game Center, which offers a new MFA degree in game design, programming, visual design, and criticism. They also offer a minor in game design, allowing students to major in another subject while still being educated in game design, production, and scholarship. The Game Center organizes events open to students and the public, including major eSports tournaments, master classes by renowned game developers, and the New York chapter of the Global Game Jam.

New York University

University of Advancing Technology

Location: Tempe, Arizona
Type: Private institution of technology

UAT is a small, private university that focuses mainly on technology education and careers. They offer degrees in game design, game art and animation, serious games and simulation, virtual modeling and design, and game programming. Students are required to complete an innovation project, portfolio, or capstone project and an internship before graduation. UAT also offers an MS in game production and management and runs the Journal of Advancing Technology, a scholarly publication.

University of Advancing Technology

Michigan State University

Location: East Lansing, Michigan
Type: Public research university program

MSU offers both a BA and a BS in media and information. Students can specialize in interactive and social media, enabling them to focus on information and communication technology, social and interactive media, or games and meaningful play. MSU operates the Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab, which conducts research on cognitive games for children with cerebral malaria, girls as game designers, and the effectiveness of exercise games. Students in other majors can also specialize in game studies.

Michigan State University

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Location: Troy, New York
Type: Private research university program

Rensselaer is primarily a math and science-based institution, but it offers a BS in games and simulation arts and sciences within its School of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Students can take courses like History of Culture and Games, Designing Interactive Characters, and Experimental Game Design. Rensselaer also offers a minor in game studies and hosts GameFest, an annual festival showcasing student-designed games. Students are encouraged to add a concentration or dual degree in art, human-computer interaction, computer science, management and entrepreneurship, or cognitive science.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

University of Wisconsin at Madison

Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Type: Public research university program

UW Madison’s educational communications and technology MA and PhD programs aren’t solely focused on game studies, but the faculty within the program conduct important research on educational and non-entertainment games. Courses include Interactive Media and Computers in the Curriculum, Research on Online Virtual Worlds, and Gender and Technology. Although there is no undergraduate program dedicated solely to game studies, undergraduate students from other departments can take select graduate-level courses.

University of Wisconsin at Madison

Drexel University

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Type: Private research university program

Drexel offers various opportunities for students to study and develop games. They have a game and art production major, a game programming and development concentration, a graduate certificate in learning in game-based environments, and an MS in digital media. Drexel runs the RePlay lab, which fosters research on game engineering, programming, scriptwriting, and music. Students have access to a 3D theater, motion-capture studio, Unity 3D, and the Unreal Engine. Drexel also emphasizes writing skills by requiring students to take multiple writing courses throughout their college careers.

Drexel University

State University of New York At Buffalo

Location: Buffalo, New York
Type: Public research university program

SUNY at Buffalo offers a BA, MA, and PhD through its media studies department. These programs require students to take general media studies courses, with the option to obtain a game studies certificate. The certificate program includes courses like Designed Play and Game Design. Students also have the flexibility to take electives such as 3D Modeling, Programming Graphics, Machine Culture, and Interactive Fiction. Buffalo’s media studies programs are interdisciplinary, allowing students to take courses from other departments like computer science and visual studies.

State University of New York At Buffalo

Miami University

Location: Oxford, Ohio
Type: Public research university program

Miami’s Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies offers a digital game studies minor, a graduate certificate in interactive media studies, and a proposed major in interactive media studies. Students can take courses like Music Tech, Digital Writing and Rhetoric, and Game Prototyping, Pipeline, and Production. Miami also hosts the Mobile Learning Center, the Games and Learning Center, the Miami Design Collaborative, and the Smale Interactive Visualization Center. The Institute for Interactive Media is interdisciplinary, with faculty from communication studies, engineering, computer science, marketing, and architecture.

Miami University

Full Sail University

Location: Winter Park, Florida
Type: Private for-profit university

Full Sail initially focused on audio recording education and later expanded into video production, film, and game development. They offer bachelor’s degrees in game art, game development, and game design, as well as a master’s program in game design. Some available courses include Character Rigging, Motion Capture, Game Planning and Architecture, and Aesthetics and Immersion. Full Sail has strong industry connections and graduates often find employment on major franchises. However, it’s important to note that Full Sail is not regionally accredited, which may impact credit transfers and recognition of their degrees.

Full Sail University

These twelve institutions provide excellent opportunities for individuals interested in studying video games. By exploring their programs and offerings, you’ll be able to find an educational path that aligns with your interests and goals. Remember, this list is not exhaustive, and there are many more institutions worldwide that offer game studies-related education.

Header image of MIT courtesy of Francisco Diez.

FAQs

Q: Are these the only institutions that offer game studies-related degrees?
A: No, these are just a few respected institutions that specialize in game studies. There are many more options available both in the United States and around the world.

Q: Do these institutions guarantee the quality of their programs?
A: While these institutions have excellent reputations, it’s important to thoroughly research and evaluate their programs before making a decision. Consider factors such as faculty expertise, curriculum, facilities, and alumni success.

Q: Can I transfer credits earned from these institutions to other schools?
A: It may vary depending on the institution and the specific circumstances. If you’re considering transferring credits, it’s advisable to reach out to the schools you’re interested in to inquire about their credit transfer policies.

Q: How do I apply to these institutions?
A: Each institution has its own application process. Visit their respective websites for detailed application instructions and requirements.

Conclusion

If you’re passionate about video games and want to pursue a career in the industry or study games from an academic perspective, these twelve institutions offer a range of programs and opportunities. Whether you’re interested in game design, development, art, or research, there’s a program out there that can help you achieve your goals. Explore their websites, reach out to faculty members, and take the first step towards turning your love for video games into a rewarding educational journey.

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