Saturday, July 08, 2006

Game Design Curriculum

Suppose you were just entering college, and you already knew that you wanted to be a game designer some day. That's your career goal. In lieu of a game design major, what courses should you take?

Or, suppose you're a faculty member at a university, charged with designing a curriculum for a game design major. What courses should be included?

Hopefully the answers to these two questions are the same.

Unfortunately, the industry does not have any solid answers, yet. Part of the problem is that it's exceedingly rare for anyone to get a game design job fresh out of college. Also, game design is so interdisciplinary that it's hard to find a department that it naturally fits in.

So why bother coming up with a curriculum at all? Because there is demand for one from students, and from the game industry. Also, schools need consistency: if they graduate a student with a Bachelor's in Game Design, they need the industry to know what skills that student is expected to have.

Over the rest of the summer, I will write a series of articles on what I would hope to see in an undergraduate game design major. I will start by covering the work that has already been done and where I see room for improvement, and then I will give my own vision of what courses I've personally found useful -- and why.

EDIT: I'm adding a table of contents in this post, so that there is a central place linking everything together.
Where We Are Now
Math
Science
English
Fine Arts
Computer Science
Other Stuff
Elective Minors
Classes about Game Design

5 comments:

Patrick Dugan said...

I'd say a Creative Writing Major is a good choice, perhaps with a CS minor. It gives you the freedom to take electives and strengthens a skilset that will become increasingly needed in the near future.

Of course, I think reading blogs and papers and books on game design is the core of any aspiring designers education. The only thing classes can do is show you what books, blogs and papers to read, and perhaps foster an environment of experimentation with card/board/prototype games.

Or maybe not, prove me wrong Ian ;)

Ian Schreiber said...

If you want to be a designer but your school doesn't offer a Bachelor's in Game Design, then I agree with you -- Creative Writing and Computer Science are fine choices for a major, depending on whether you want to be more on the creative or technical side of design. What to do if you don't have the option of majoring in game design seems like a fine future topic for this blog.

But in this case, I'm asking the question: what if there WERE a game design major... and someone were asking you what courses should be required in the curriculum?

Dan Roy said...

Hey, Ian. It's great to see you're blogging. You have a lot to contribute.

Required courses:
The pitch
paper prototyping
flash prototyping (experimental gameplay project?)
Web prototyping (a lot of game concepts can be prototyped as web pages with links)
semester-long or year-long team projects
creative writing
technical writing
visual communication for nonartists
scripting

Suggested courses:
modding -- level/map design
programming for scripters
micro-, macro-economics
game criticism
Pop culture
the classics (games, films, books)

Dan Roy said...

How did I forget UI and physical interface (controller) design. required.

-N said...

Thanks for keeping this blog! Reading your blog feels like me sitting in on one of your classes. I found it while googling up game design art syllabus as I am learning 3d character art on my own.

Please feel free to suggest course / materials that I should cover.