Game Development

Plot a course in game development with a degree in this growing field.

What is Game Development?

Farmville on Facebook. Candy Crush on iPhones. Halo on the XBox 360. Game developers are the hard-working people behind social media games, app entertainment and interstellar wars on your console.

Game development is a complex field that requires a team of people. A programmer built that level you can’t seem to beat. The fascinating plot of your favorite game? That was a designer’s dream. A game with vibrant colors and shapes? Consider it the artist’s canvas.

Video games are a multi-billion-dollar business ($108.9 billion in 2017, to be exact) and studios want high-quality, innovative products. Game developers work for months, or even years, to create the next big thing.

Who Should Get a Game Development Degree

If you love playing video games, that’s a good first step. Developers also need to have a passion for the mechanics that make the game work. Collaborative types with a creative mind will thrive in this field.

Most game developers break into the business with at least a bachelor’s degree, but associate’s degrees and certificates are also offered by many schools across the country. The job of a game developer is specialized, so a bachelor’s degree gives you more time to hone your skills in the area you want to pursue.

Traits & Aptitudes

Passion draws most game developers to the field, but you’ll need more than that to succeed. These are necessary traits for game developers.

Team Player

It takes a village to develop a game, so you’ll need to work well with others.


Articulating your thoughts clearly will help get the job done.


Delivering results is good. Delivering them on time is great.


Think outside the box to add more dimensions to a game.


Be agile. Making changes under pressure shouldn’t derail you.

Team Player

It takes a village to develop a game, so you’ll need to work well with others.


Articulating your thoughts clearly will help get the job done.


Delivering results is good. Delivering them on time is great.


Think outside the box to add more dimensions to a game.


Be agile. Making changes under pressure shouldn’t derail you.

Degrees in Game Development

Game development requires a top-notch team, and degree programs equip developers with a variety of skills. There are more than 400 colleges and universities in the U.S. offering full game programs. Bachelor’s degrees in game development are the prized credential, but an associate’s degree can you get you started. Certificates in game design complement a bachelor’s degree in other technology fields.

Game development requires a team of people and degree programs recognize developers need to have varied skills. Coursework won’t just be about learning a programming language. Creative writing is a must and psychology’s role in game playing is often examined.

Online Degrees in Game Development

Navigate game engine development, not rush-hour traffic. Online degrees in game development let you skip the hassles of getting to campus providing you more time to focus on what’s important. Associate’s and bachelor’s degrees can be earned online at the traditional speed or at your own pace. By eliminating distractions, you can focus on getting an A+ in that C++ class.

Before choosing an online school, be sure it’s accredited by Distance Education Accrediting Commission or the Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology. Without this seal of approval, you won’t be eligible for financial aid.

How It Works

You don’t need a cheat code to get started with an online learning environment. Before enrolling, dig deep into the type of experience a school offers. Review curriculums to determine if you’ll be focusing on areas you’re interested in. Is the course delivery system easy to use?

Some programs offer modules which contain coursework, videos and other learning materials. You’ll be able to access these on your own schedule and once you complete a module, you’ll move to the next one over the course of a semester. Other game development degree programs expect students to log in at certain times for lectures.

Want feedback? No problem. Online classes typically have a discussion board where you can post questions, ask fellow classmates for their opinions and exchange thoughts. In addition to this, professors are available via email and often have “office hours” where you can discuss your progress.


Today’s technology students are juggling any number of commitments including a job and family. Even with work or military experience, a degree is the credential you’ll need to get your foot in the door at many game development companies.

An online program offers a flexible course schedule allowing you to finish homework after the kids are in bed. Without a commute to campus, you can spend more time putting the final touches on your latest design.

Online degrees have had their fair share of critics but today’s accredited programs are equally, if not more, rigorous than their campus counterparts. The quality of your education will not be compromised because you’ve learned online. In fact, getting your degree virtually proves to employers that you’ve mastered online environments and on-screen collaboration—both of which will come in handy on the job.

Why Get a Degree in Game Development?

Potential Career Paths

Almost half of the U.S. population plays video games, according to Entertainment Software Association (EAS). The industry group also notes that 42 percent of Americans play video games at least three hours a week.

The bottom line? Video games are big business. Small and large studios are on the hunt for original thinkers and skilled developers, but you’ll need an education. Not only does it provide you with a strong academic foundation and robust portfolio, you’ll learn the necessary skills needed in today’s industry.

Job Outlook

Game design is expected to see modest growth—about 10 percent—through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics current Occupational Outlook Handbook. Aspiring game developers should be aware that the job market in this field is notoriously volatile. Competition has also become fiercer as game development sees a lower barrier to entry. Apps for social media and mobile devices are typically simpler to make. so more developers are entering the fray.

Outlook for Game Development Through 2024


Salaries in Game Development


Programmers & Engineers


Artists & Animators


Game Designers


Game development salaries vary depending on your skill set. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, programmers earn an average of $79,840 annually, while artists and animators in computer design earned a median annual salary of $65,300 and motion picture and video game designers earned $56,820*.

*salary info from

Build a Portfolio

You may be able to talk the talk, but can you walk the walk? Building a strong portfolio of work gives employers an opportunity to see what you’re capable of. From developing a story to demonstrating your programming language chops, a portfolio is a career must-have.

Make Connections

With so many games at our fingertips, it may feel like the video game universe is limitless. In reality, it’s a small world. You never know who might help you in your career. Attending a game development school gives you access to alumni and industry professionals. And you never know, one of your classmates could be a future connection to the world of gaming.

Educational Paths


Highly-focused classes give you the game development education you need to excel in a short amount of time.

Program Length

You won’t need to commit to a lot of time when earning a certificate. They can usually be completed in a year or less.

What You’ll Study

A certificate program builds on your existing technology expertise and introduces you to the world of game development and design. You’ll typically need to have a background in at least two programming languages and familiarity with computer applications. Each school has different prerequisites, so it’s best to check with the admissions office.

Armed with a bachelor’s degree and specialized game development certificate, students may find careers as game designers. Your background will allow you to draft the details of the game (plot and characters) and then work with programmers and artists to bring the vision to life.

Certificate courses generally include introduction to computer graphics, game engine construction, artificial intelligence and game networking.


Perfect for the student who is just starting out, an associate’s degree provides a heavy dose of computer education with a slant toward game development.

Program Length

Associate’s degrees in game development take about two years to complete.

What You’ll Study

From examining the video game industry to learning game theory, an associate’s degree program will give you a well-rounded education to prepare you for a career in technology.

Holding an associate’s degree in game development will qualify you for entry-level positions. Your expertise in programming languages, familiarity with desktop production environments and background in design will make you a viable candidate for any number of careers in gaming.

Students are introduced to programming languages, simulations and storyboarding. As preparation for a career in game developments, you’ll also have the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the tools used in the industry.

Courses generally include 3D modeling, game architecture, game theory and digital graphics.


The proliferation of video games has created a greater demand for bachelor’s degree in game design and development.

Program Length

With a combination of general education and game development courses, you can expect to be in school for four years.

What You’ll Study

A bachelor’s degree combines core computing classes with specialized courses in game development. Game developers work on diverse teams, so honing your collaboration skills while in school will provide long-term benefits. In addition to the game development curriculum, an undergraduate degree often provides opportunities to choose a specific track, such as programming or design.

Bachelor’s degrees are common among game developers, particularly programmers. Competition can be fierce so it can help to differentiate yourself with expertise in a certain type of programming.

Artificial intelligence programmers are the minds behind computer-controlled characters in a game. Algorithms and advanced mathematics are all in a day’s work for graphic programmers. Less technical folks rely on tools programmers to create programs that simplify the game development process.

Lead programmers manage a team, ensuring deadlines are met and work is assigned properly.

You can expect to take courses in game history, 3D math, game design and development, website design and graphics programming.


Although it’s not required to get a job, a master’s degree exposes students to the idea that video games go beyond entertainment.

Program Length

Master’s degree programs generally take around two years to complete, though you may find accelerated master’s programs.

What You’ll Study

By taking your education to the highest level, you can earn a career-high score. A master’s degree in game development offers a fast-paced, intense curriculum. Coursework goes beyond basis computer science and game development. Students are immersed in complex areas of study, including how games can improve social issues, strengthen families and promote healthier habits. A combination of theory and practice are incorporated into a master’s program.

With the highest level of education in game development, the career opportunities are vast. The fields of medicine and architecture could use your skills to develop interactive real-time simulations. More interested in optimization? Spruce up software for mobile technology companies. If your passion lies with developing games, your advanced education will help you stand out from the crowd.

Classes for an MS in Game Development generally include applied 3D geometry, computer games architecture, mobile application development, object-oriented modeling, quality assurance testing and immersive design.


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