Online Colleges for Video Game Development

Online Programs for Video Game Development - What You May Learn

For most colleges, game design degrees are new and providing game design courses online is even newer. However, there are schools which offer bachelor's and master's degrees specializing in game design as well as certificates for completing online game design courses. Online game design programs can provide students with diverse class opportunities. Students can learn about the history of gaming, 3-D modeling specifically for gaming, the elements of game design and the fundamentals of programming.

Taking individual online college courses in art, computer science, software development, audio engineering and management can also be useful for landing a job as a game designer if coupled with game design certificates or work experience. This may be beneficial for recent graduates looking to enter the game design field or current game industry workers looking for advancement.

Online Degrees vs. Certificates for Game Development - What's better for you?

If you're interested in entering the world of video game design, you may be wondering what kind of formal education to pursue. After all, there are a variety of online game development classes that can lead to online game programming certificates or an online game programming degree. But, which route should you take? The truth is that it's entirely up to you. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that many video game developers earn a bachelor's degree in order to build up a portfolio of work and gain the skills that employers prefer (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). However, the BLS also states that many employers do not require a degree at all. Instead, some employers may focus on your experience, portfolio, and technical skills (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). Regardless of which route you choose to take, you'll learn the same basic game development skills. Topics include game analysis and design, information systems, animation and development, and game production fundamentals. See online IT colleges for related degree options.

If you're interested in pursuing online game programming certificates, you might be able to land an entry-level job assisting video game developers or creating games of your own. You might also be able to gain employment as a multimedia artist or animator as well. If you earn an online game development degree, you'll probably increase your job prospects, according to the BLS (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). You could use your online game development degree to gain employment as a multimedia artist or animator, video game developer, or you could branch off to create video games of your own.

Career and Job Information

College Internships in Video Game Design

Students or recent graduates looking to gain practical experience may be able to get an internship at a game studio or publishing company. Game design studios often post internships on career websites or school boards. One major game company that offers internships is Microsoft Game Studios. As of summer 2013, students were able to apply for a Microsoft internship in the following game design roles:

  • Artist Intern - Those interning as game artists can develop their artistic skills by creating concept art, in-game designs, and other game-related artwork.
  • Animator Intern - Animators help bring characters and environments to life through computer software, and interns can look to gain valuable hands-on experience through this internship.
  • Intern Associate Producer - Interning under a producer can help students build the communication and leadership skills needed to see a game from conception to completion.
  • Intern Designer - As part of the life blood of a development team, interning as a designer can build a student's critical thinking capacity as well as creativity.

What is a Career in Video Game Development like?

Video game designers are the visionaries behind a wide range of games, from console blockbusters that sell millions of copies on release day to indie games looking to make their first mark on the industry to touch-input mobile gaming apps.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov/ooq, 2011), there are no strict educational requirements for becoming a video game designer. However, without experience in the game industry as an artist, programmer, audio engineer or producer, it may be difficult to find employment as a game designer, and even harder to meet the demands of the job without the necessary training and education. Degree programs in game design can provide this education and may even offer internships to give students practical experience creating games.

Video Game Developer Job Outlook

The BLS does not collect data specifically for game designers or developers. However, it did publish anecdotal information in the fall 2011 edition of Occupational Outlook Quarterly (bls.gov/ooq, 2011). According to the publication, most game designers earned more than the median national annual wage for all occupations -- $33,840 -- in May 2010. Game Developer magazine is sourced by the BLS as reporting that as of 2010 national salaries for game designers ranged from $49,000 for testers up to $107,000 for business professionals such as executives.

Online Degree Programs in Video Game Programming

Video game developers usually learn the entire process of game development inside and out. If you pursue formal education as a game development major, you'll need to learn video game creation fundamentals, as well as specific tasks related to the career. Video game programmers learn to create graphics and animation, work with animators to create visual effects, edit their work, and write their own computer code (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). Video game programmers typically work for clients or in a group of other animators and game designers in a collaborative effort (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012).

Online Bachelor's in Video Game Programming

Online game development classes will prepare you for a career in the industry, as well as other fields in IT. You'll learn video game production fundamentals, as well as database design and management, history of game design, and computer platform technologies.

This table provides an in-depth look at concepts bachelor's degree students will study in online game development classes:

Computer Platform Technologies

Take an in-depth look at hardware and software technology and its uses.

Information Systems Implementation

Learn to analyze and design their own work using up-to-date technology.

Information Technology and Digital Games

Study game genres and platforms, interface design, game implementation, and business economics of the gaming industry.

Digital Game Development

Learn the language of game development, providing students with an opportunity to learn the basic skills of the trade.

Virtual Game Environments

Gain a basic overview of the creation of video game environments as a backdrop of the video game experience.

*Southern New Hampshire University, BS Computer Information Technology: Game Design & Development Degree Online


  1. Becker College, Certificate in Game Design, 2013, http://www.becker.edu/academics/accelerated/degree-offerings/certificate-in-game-design/
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012, 2013 Edition," Multimedia Artists and Animators, March 29, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/multimedia-artists-and-animators.htm#tab-1
  3. Southern New Hampshire University, B.S. in Computer Information Technology: Game Design & Development Degree Online, 2013, http://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/undergraduate-degrees/computer-information-technology-bachelors-online/game-design-and-development.asp
  4. Microsoft, Careers, Tech Game Internships, 2013 - http://careers.microsoft.com/careers/en/us/tech-game-internships.aspx
  5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Game Designers, Fall 2011 - http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/2011/fall/art01.pdf
  6. San Francisco Academy of Art, Game Design Graduate Schools, Online Degrees, 2013 - http://online.academyart.edu/schools/game-design
  7. The Princeton Review, Top Game Design Programs 2012 - http://www.princetonreview.com/game-design.aspx

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