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As video games continue to be economically profitable and an area of interest for millions of people across the globe, the need for educational programs in the area of game studies grows. If you've ever wondered how or where you can study games as a major, a minor, or as a graduate student, but didn't know where to begin looking, make this your starting point. We've compiled a list of twelve respected educational institutions across the U.S. that offer game studies-related degrees. Some schools focus on game development and design, whereas others offer humanities and social science-based research for people who enjoy theory and culture. Whatever your interest, you should be able to find a place that accommodates it here.Note: Game Informer does not endorse any of these educational institutions, and it does not have a vested interested in their success or their failure. These are not the only institutions in the United States, much less in the world, that offer game studies-related educations, and our listing them here should not appear to be any kind of guarantee of their quality or personal fit for you.Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Type: Private university research program
MIT has an interesting humanities-based program in its comparative media
studies department. Students wanting to study video games from a more
critical-cultural standpoint can take courses such as Social and Cultural Facets of Digital Games, and The Role of the Gamer, though more
technical courses such as Fundamentals of Computational Design are also
available. MIT's program is in charge of several high-profile research
groups such as the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, which fosters
international work 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.
DigiPenLocation: Redmond, WashingtonType: Institute of technologyDigiPen is a technological institute based in Redmond, Washington, meaning it's close to dozens of game companies including Nintendo, Bungie, and Valve. It provides few opportunities for a liberal arts education, and requires students to pick a major before they even begin classes, but is a good option for people who know exactly what they want to do and who want to focus on coding and design rather than humanities-based research. DigiPen currently offers bachelor's degrees in digital art and animation, game design, computer science in real-time interactive simulation, and computer engineering. It also has two master's degrees: An MS in computer science and an MFA in digital arts. DigiPen is nationally – but not regionally – accredited, which means it may be difficult to transfer credits from DigiPen to other educational institutions, and degrees received by DigiPen may not be accepted by some companies and schools.
University of Southern CaliforniaLocation: Los Angeles, CaliforniaType: Private university research programUSC offers a BA and MFA in interactive entertainment. Undergraduate students study primarily the technical aspects of game design through courses like Design and Technology for Mobile Experiences and Usability Testing for Games, but are also required to fulfill the university's requirements for general education (such as writing, foreign language, and diversity). USC has produced significant research on head-mounted displays for simulation games, educational games that teach U.S. American history to high school students, and games that help policy makers understand the psychological development of children.New York UniversityLocation: New York, New YorkType: Private university research programNYU's Tisch School of the Arts runs the Game Center, a hub for game courses and programs for students of the university. The Game Center is starting a new MFA degree focusing on game design, programming, visual design, and criticism. Also offered is a minor in game design, which allows students to major in another primary subject (for example, journalism), while still being educated in game design, game production, and game scholarship. The Game Center hosts events open to the greater NYU student body, as well as to the public. Events include major eSport tournaments, master classes by big-name game developers, and the New York chapter of the Global Game Jam, a 48-hour game creation festival.
University of Advancing TechnologyLocation: Tempe, ArizonaType: Private institution of technologyUAT
is a small, private university that focuses almost exclusively on
education and careers in technology. However, students are required to
supplement their degree with general education classes such as basic
public speaking and social science courses. Degrees offered are A.A.s
and B.A.s in game design, game art and animation, serious games and
simulation, virtual modeling and design, and a B.S. in game programming.
Undergraduate students are required to complete either an innovation
project, a portfolio, or a related capstone project. Students are also
required to complete an internship before graduation. In addition to its
undergraduate degrees, UAT also offers an MS in game production and
management, and runs its own scholarly publication, the Journal of
Michigan State UniversityLocation: East Lansing, MichiganType: Public research university programMSU offers both a BA and a BS in media and information. Both tracks allow students to have concentrations in interactive and social media, which in turn allows students to specialize in information and communication technology, social and interactive media, or games and meaningful play. MSU also runs the Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab, which has funded research on cognitive games for the rehabilitation of children with cerebral malaria in Africa, girls as game designers, and the short and long-term effectiveness of exercise games. Students in other majors like computer science can also specialize in game studies. Some of the courses include Collaborative Game Design; Story, Sound, and Motion; and The Digital Image.
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Email the author Ali Rapp, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.