What are the most affordable brick-and-mortar and online video game design schools?
Neither U.S. News & World Report nor College Navigator recognize video game design as a major yet. However, a basic Google search reveals a few options for cost-conscious students. Keep in mind that due to the technology and software used in video game design training, these programs are usually more expensive than other majors.
Shawnee State University in Ohio offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Game and Simulation Development Arts. For Ohio residents the tuition is just over $3,300, while out-of-state students will pay slightly under $6,000, making this 1 of the most affordable schools.
Though it may seem strange, video game design schools online are often far more expensive than their traditional counterparts, as these schools are usually for-profit institutions. One of the least expensive online schools is Southern New Hampshire University, which offers a bachelors degree in game design and development. The cost of the entire program is just over $38,000.
How can I connect with other on-campus or online students who are also studying at my school for video game design?
Students on campus often have access to clubs dedicated to their major. Pennsylvania State University’s College of Information Sciences and Technology has a Game Design Club where members test games and discuss making them. California State University, Fullerton offers a Video Game Design Club as well. The club’s website is quite comprehensive and includes links to game jobs and free software.
Students in video game design school, whether online or on campus, can participate in national activities as well. The STEM Video Game Challenge was created to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and math through students’ love of video games. Collegiate winners receive $30,000 in seed money for development, marketing and distribution of their game.
The annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) brings together thousands of industry professionals who discuss game development topics facilitated by leading experts. The GDC expo showcases the most significant development tools, platforms and services that push the industry forward. It also sponsors an Independent Games Festival, which includes the work of student developers. Like the STEM Challenge, GDC is an excellent opportunity for students in online schools to interact with peers beyond school forums and message boards.
What resources should my brick-and-mortar or online school offer me when I am studying video game design?
Because of the high costs associated with the program, most video game design schools offer financial aid through a combination of federal loans, veteran discounts, scholarships and grants. One hundred percent of the Art Institute’s game design students, for example, used loans to finance their education. Arts scholarships are highly competitive and many schools do not offer them, so be prepared to spend a great deal of time searching them out on your own.
The best video game design schools integrate workshops into their programs as part of the curriculum. These workshops and labs are immersive, hands-on experiences that allow students to fully develop and refine their final project or work with other students on collaborative projects. The top video game design schools will typically require students to participate in an internship before graduating.
Online students are also eligible for financial aid and should receive student discounts for the required software. While it is more difficult for online students to participate in workshops and labs, the best schools will have interactive forums that allow students to collaborate with their peers. Internships may be required or offered as an elective, but you will need to arrange it on your own.
Are there any nonprofit online video game design schools or programs that I could look into?
The Savannah College of Art and Design, a private, nonprofit school, offers a bachelors program in interactive design and game development. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges but, like most schools, its game design program is not yet accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Since the field is so new, accredited online video game design schools are still a work in progress.
The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is another private, nonprofit school offering a bachelors in game design and development. RIT is an accredited school, but as the program is part of the College of Computing and Information Sciences, it does not fall under the jurisdiction of NASAD.
Many nonprofit schools offer video game design only as a minor within another field of study. Nonprofit video game design online schools are even more difficult to find and often award online degrees only at the masters level. If you are seeking an online video game design degree, keep in mind that many online programs are offered through for-profit schools like Full Sail University and the Art Institutes, which are frequently more expensive.