Game Designers
Presented by the University of Utah’s Division of Games.

As the popularity of gaming has increased, so too has the popularity of college game development programs. Many incoming students have been gaming their entire lives, and now bring exciting innovation and unique ideas to the industry. Game development is a rewarding and exciting career path, as the discipline allows students to marry their joy of gaming with their passion as creators and makers. Even better, the skills that games students study are highly marketable and uniquely geared to find success in a 21st century world. Curious about what studying game design actually entails?

Here’s some insight courtesy of University of Utah's Division of Games:

Q: What’s your advice to a student considering a Graphic Design or Multimedia Design major versus a Games major?

A:  Game design is an excellent major for students to explore because it opens up so many avenues for development, both creative and personal. Students in the program will learn new artistic and technical skills, but most importantly, they will learn to work together as a team. Students will learn all aspects of the game development pipeline and the work that goes into each step. For artists who are certain they want to work in games, a Games degree gives them a deeper understanding of the games industry, along with experience working in big teams that mirror the ones found in game studios. For artists who want to do art but are only slightly interested in games, a Graphic Design or Multimedia Design major may give them a broader set of career options. Games students will graduate from the program having worked on several games, published one of their own, and made lasting connections that could eventually carry into the game industry.    

Q: Why major in games?

A:  We want our Games students to get a feel for what the industry expects of its developers so they can make an informed career choice. Students in the program will learn new artistic and technical skills, but most importantly, they will learn to work together in interdisciplinary teams. Students will learn all aspects of the game development pipeline and the work that goes into each step. They’ll also get an inside look at the future they are aiming for, as our program brings in experienced industry veterans to teach, give talks, and conduct portfolio reviews.       

Q: For students majoring in games, what are some required and optional game development courses at the Division of Games?

A:  Students in the program will be required to take both game design and project-based courses. The program offers students the opportunity to take elective courses, selected from a few areas of interest: art, technical art, production, design, and game engineering. Students interested in art can take classes ranging from Concept Art to Character Design and technical artists may take classes like 3D Modeling and Rigging. Producers become versed in all areas while gaining project experience managing the production of large projects and have the option to take one elective in a business or communication class. Engineers often take A.I. for Games and/or Gameplay Programming. 

Students can forge their own path in the program, becoming highly skilled in one area, which is essential for landing a job in the game industry. They will graduate from the program having worked on several games, published at least one of their own, and made lasting professional connections that they will carry into the game industry.  

Q: What special features of the Division of Games’ major distinguish it from other majors/programs?

A:  The Division of Games offers a truly unique academic experience in a dynamic field where embracing and understanding the latest trends is critical. We’ve brought together a diverse faculty with expertise in every facet of game development and consulted with top industry insiders to create a studio-like atmosphere built upon project-based, experiential learning. Ultimately, students experience a one-of-a-kind learning environment that integrates emerging technologies both in the classroom and through collaborations with industry partners.

In the classroom, our students work in interdisciplinary teams in a way that mimics the industry environment. Beyond the classroom, students collaborate with current industry professionals to gain hands-on experience, getting feedback from the people who know exactly where the industry is and where it’s going. To stay on top of emerging trends, our faculty have created an “AI working group” to study the current state of AI, trends in the field, and its applications in the games industry and in games research.

These hands-on experiences and working groups, combined with the passion of our staff and faculty for promoting student success, make for a very individualized experience in the Division of Games program to prepare students for their first job. Hiring managers in the games industry trust that Division of Games’ graduates have had practice collaborating in large teams of artists, engineers, and producers.
VR Students

Q: Is getting a game design degree worth it?

A:  The majority of our graduates are hired into studios in the video game industry around the world. Our students find jobs as game engineers, game artists, technical artists, game producers, product managers, user-experience analysts, game designers, and many more. Our students also go on to become highly qualified candidates in other fields, working for companies creating self-driving cars, training simulations, and UI (user interface) in a variety of technologies. Our students frequently participate in internships at various video game companies while in the program, and those internships may lead to full-time employment opportunities.   

Q: What do students majoring in game design accomplish after four years in the program? Will they have created their own games?

A:  Students who study at the Division of Games are immersed in a studio simulation experience where they work in teams, creating games throughout the duration of their degree. Effectively working in interdisciplinary teams is a skill our students get to practice in multiple game development-focused courses, preparing them for work in the games industry and related fields. At the end of their program of study, each student will have experienced every facet of the game development pipeline, from pitching ideas to publishing a complete game. All graduates will have at least one published game when they finish, which will demonstrate their experience and skill.

Has this made you even more excited about the prospect of pursuing a degree in game development? If so, start investigating programs like the University of Utah’s Division of Games here.

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