Online Game Design Degrees

By OnlineU Staff | Updated 8/28/2020
Quick Facts
Accreditation: Institutional
Average Tuition: $26,940

Online game design degrees provide students with the skills necessary to create challenging and entertaining gaming experiences for players. This page highlights popular online colleges offering a variety of game design degrees with programs focusing on computer science, information technology, game art, and interactive design. Students will need to start with a certain level of artistic ability, along with communication skills and critical thinking skills, to succeed in a game design program. These skills will be a key part of the work required for team projects in your role as a game designer, quality assurance tester, team leader, or project manager.

Confirming whether a school is accredited at the regional or national level is an important part of evaluating the quality of an educational institution. Prospective students can confirm a school's accreditation status by contacting the school directly or by checking an authoritative accreditation database; the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation each offer such databases.

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Most Popular Accredited Online Schools for Video Game Design Bachelor's Degrees

Visitors to our site are most interested in these schools
Rank School Annual Tuition Recommend Rate
# 1 #1 $9,600 64% (376 reviews)
149 Programs, 3 Bachelor's in Video Game Design (view all)
149 Programs, 3 Bachelor's in Video Game Design
  • BA Game Art & Development
  • BS Game Programming and Development
  • BA Graphic Design and Media Arts - Web Design
# 2 #2 $11,700 59% (290 reviews)
505 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Video Game Design (view all)
505 Programs, 1 Bachelor's in Video Game Design
  • BS: Information Technology: Gaming Design
# 3 #3 $17,755 60% (213 reviews)
# 4 #4 $24,109 48% (102 reviews)
29 Programs, 3 Bachelor's in Video Game Design (view all)
29 Programs, 3 Bachelor's in Video Game Design
  • Bachelor of Science in Game Design
  • Bachelor of Science in Game Development
  • Bachelor of Science in Game Art
# 5 #5 $35,922 Add Review
# 6 #6 $18,414 100% (3 reviews)
# 7 #7 $29,980 100% (1 review)
# 8 #8 $9,800 59% (91 reviews)
# 9 #9 $31,450 Add Review
# 10 #10 $20,056 Add Review
# 11 #11 $37,130 Add Review
# 12 #12 $22,308 29% (35 reviews)
# 13 #13 $17,982 21% (14 reviews)
# 14 #14 $31,384 Add Review
# 15 #15 $29,714 100% (36 reviews)
# 16 #16 $17,600 Add Review
# 17 #17 $39,942 Add Review
# 18 #18 $15,540 Add Review
# 19 #19 $27,334 83% (6 reviews)
# 20 #20 $15,894 Add Review
# 21 #21 $19,020 Add Review
# 22 #22 $16,598 50% (2 reviews)

Online Video Game Design Degree Overview & Career Information

Video game design degree programs at the associate level typically include an array of courses in game design, level design, and game art. They may also include courses in effects animation, prop modeling, character design, and 3-D modeling. Bachelor's degree programs will also supply students with a liberal arts foundation, which can be applied toward many aspects of building stories in video game formats.

Master's degree programs will likely include classes in quality assurance, game production tools, research design, and asset management. Because these graduate programs prepare students for leadership roles, master's students will also take classes that will help them develop these abilities, such as project management and managing for digital media. Students enrolled in a master's degree program can expect to complete a capstone project or conduct research to prepare a thesis and defend their findings before a committee.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Video Game Design

The video game design bachelor's program teaches students how to develop digital graphics and leverage interactivity to draw players into a game. These programs usually require four years of full-time study. Applicants typically need a high school diploma or GED to apply; programs may also require baseline technical skills and the submission of an art portfolio.

Video game design classes cover a wide variety of subjects, including 2-D and 3-D digital design, computer graphics, video game programming, storyboarding, project management, and computer game analysis. Students learn about the overall structure of a successful video game, as well as the details of creating digital graphics for various computer and console systems.

Along with technical graphics and animation skills, students also learn about the methods for working with teams of animators and bringing a large project to completion. Many programs require students to work on a large game design project during the final semester of the degree; in some cases, students work in teams to develop a complete game.

A bachelor's degree in video game design or a related creative-technical subject is required to land entry-level positions in game design, multimedia design, or animation. Bachelor's graduates with a strong portfolio of game design work will have the best chances of landing a job in this highly competitive field. Video game designers work in software development, computer systems design, motion picture and film production, and advertising.

Accreditation

Schools that offer higher education degrees and certificates may choose to go through an accreditation process in order to demonstrate to the public that they meet the highest academic standards. They are evaluated by outside accrediting agencies in areas such as curricula, faculty, and student outcomes, and must renew their accreditation status every few years to ensure that they maintain high levels of competency. 

Choosing an accredited school can help students feel confident that they will receive a high-quality education and graduate with adequate preparation for their future career. Attending an accredited school is also necessary for students who plan to transfer credits to other accredited schools or apply for federal financial aid.

The US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognize legitimate accrediting agencies in the United States and provide a current list of accredited schools on their websites. Visit OnlineU's comprehensive accreditation hub for more information.

Different Roles in Video Game Programming

Within the field of video game design, there are many categories and specializations. Some people work behind the scenes, coming up with concepts, fleshing out the story, and writing dialogue. They then pass these elements on to the team that will build the functional elements of the game. This team consists of designers and programmers skilled in various elements of video game development who bring ideas to life. Here is an overview of some of the job titles you might hold if you earn a degree in video game design. Keep in mind that you may want to be able to perform several of these tasks after you graduate in order to ensure your marketability.

  • AI Programmer: The player characters are important, but so are the non-player-controlled characters (NPC), which need to be programmed with Artificial Intelligence (AI). NPCs need to behave naturally and in a way that makes sense or they become distracting. 
  • Background Artist: Background artists  build the world in which the game will take place. As a background artist, you need to have a keen understanding of the atmosphere and tone of the game as a whole, and specifically, the concept that should be conveyed at various times. 
  • Character Artist: Becoming a character artist takes creativity, attention to detail, and a dedication to storytelling. A character's movements and gear must be realistic and facial expressions true to the world it is a part of.
  • Game Engine Programmer: This is one of the most vital job categories within the video game industry. Game engine programmers come up with the basic software for a game. 
  • Level Designer: These professionals build the different levels of a game's environment for players to explore. Successful level designers must have strong skills in art, math, and design.
  • Physics/Environment Programmer: This aspect of video game programming focuses on the physical properties of the game world, and makes sure objects interact in a consistent way. Some programmers even develop “physics engines,” which set the rules for how everything in the world operates: how fast things fall, or what happens when to objects bump into each other. 
  • Script Writer: Although not always considered a technical part of game design, writing is key to developing a video game. A video game writer works with the design team to come up with the dialogue and text that happens between characters. They will also write the text that video game players see as they complete levels or reach certain goals.
  • Sound Programmer: These designers create a game's score and sound effects. In musical games, or games where the sound effects change based on the player's proximity to them, sound designers have a very challenging job.
  • Tool Programmer: Game creation tool programmers design software that enables other people to create and make changes to a game. Modern games typically use several tools from the beginning to end of a project.
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