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Game Design (MA) [SOC]

Offered jointly by the School of Communication and the College of Arts and Sciences, the Master of Arts in Game Design is a unique, multi-disciplinary 36-credit hour program focused on game theory, game design and game engagement mechanics intended to influence non-game contexts and challenges. The program will develop students' intellectual capacity as designers, developers, consumers, and games administrators. Beyond traditional game design and development, students learn to tailor play design for distinct education purposes.

Applicants must hold an accredited bachelor's degree with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in the last 60 hours. Applications will be submitted to the School of Communication and reviewed jointly by SOC and CAS, with both schools agreeing on student admission. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required. International students whose first language is not English are required to submit results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to demonstrate proficiency in written as well as spoken English. Previous gaming experience is not required, but all students must meet baseline competencies in specified technical areas as determined by the program director. Students who do not meet such competencies will be required to take a non-credit summer course with a separate fee. The program director will determine if the student has met the baseline competencies after the summer course and will make a determination about whether the student will be allowed to matriculate. All applicants must submit a 1,000-word essay on the applicant's commitment to pursuing study in the program, and two letters of reference evaluating academic performance, professional experience, and suitability for graduate study in game design. If available, a portfolio or previous work may be submitted.

A limited number of graduate fellowships and assistantships are awarded on the basis of merit as well as school and program needs.

Degree Requirements

  • 36 credit hours of approved graduate coursework with a cumulative grade point average of 3.00 and a grade of B or better in each of the required courses
    • Requests for the transfer of a maximum of 6 graduate credit hours will be considered in exceptional cases
  • Capstone experience: COMM-702 Master's Portfolio Capstone (1-6) (6 credit hours required) with a grade of B or better

Course Requirements

Electives (9 credit hours)

  • 9 credit hours in additional graduate-level courses as approved by the program director. Students may build their own concentration with advisor and director approval. Examples of concentrations include:

Communication: Public Communication

Complete 9 credit hours from the following:

Highlighted Courses

GAME-550/600

This course develops foundations in theory and skills in understanding the social sciences of play. Students analyze, critique, and design interactive experience and games. The understanding and design of fun and play is informed by a variety of disciplines that include psychology, art, and science. Offered to undergraduates and graduates in GAME-550 and graduates only in GAME-600. 

Offered: Spring Credits: 3

GAME-596/696

Topics vary by section and by semester. Repeatable for credit with different topics. Open to graduates and undergraduates in GAME-596 courses. Graduates only in GAME-696.  

Credits: 1-6

GAME-601

This course serves as an introduction to game production and develops theoretical foundations, methods, and skills of building games. Students learn how contemporary computer games are constructed, applying standard techniques for developing ideas, testing prototypes, identifying assets, communicating design, and developing a small scale playable demo.

Restriction: Game Design (MA), Film & Media Arts (MA) or Film and Electronic Media (MFA)

Credits: 3

GAME-605

This course provides a comprehensive survey of the intersection of play, games, and society and lays a foundation for designing, developing, and evaluating games used for social impact, education, or other purpose-driven goals. The course combines academic readings from a variety of disciplines and encourages students to embrace an interdisciplinary view of the topic.

Restriction: Game Design (MA), Film and Media Arts (MA), Film and Electronic Media (MFA)

Offered: Fall Credits: 3

GAME-610

This course facilitates a thorough understanding of research techniques, best practices, and evaluation for purpose-driven game design. Through critical reading of late-breaking research, discussion, and analysis, students learn to accurately assess the efficacy of a game design, construct design play studies, and assess the value of specific research claims. Students also design their own study to be evaluated by their peers. 

Restriction: Game Design (MA)
Offered: Spring Credits: 3

GAME-612 

Students create 2D digital art in a variety of styles and practice techniques for contemporary digital art making with professional art tools and software. Work is integrated into graphic presentations such as posters, videos, and interactive environments. Students are exposed to a variety of tools and develop the ability to identify solutions that best meet needs. 

Offered: Spring Credits: 3

GAME-615

This course introduces students to computer game development, techniques, implementation, and programming. While much of the course focuses on technical and programming skills including key game algorithms, artificial intelligence, graphics, and interface design, students are also exposed to the artistic and production-oriented aspects of game development. Working in small groups, students design and develop a game. 

Restriction: Game Design (MA)
Offered: Spring Credits: 3

GAME-620 

The focus of this course is the construction and evaluation of effective argument through play. Students apply foundations of game design and effective arguments construction. Students identify audience, medium, distribution, and production as they design and develop two games of rhetoric. 

Prerequisite: GAME-605 and GAME-615
Offered: Fall Credits: 3

GAME-625

Advanced Game Development (3) Advanced game development, including procedural content generation. This course gives students the tools and inspiration to create new types of computer games. The course exposes students to problems typically faced in game development and then explores solutions. Students create two prototypes and a final project employing emerging practices in game development. 

Prerequisite: GAME-615
Offered: Fall Credits: 3

GAME-672 

Students create 3D graphics environments and objects and practice specific techniques for contemporary digital art making. Work is integrated into graphic presentations such as posters, videos, and interactive environments. Students are exposed to a variety of 3D tools and develop the ability to identify software solutions that best meet needs. 

Offered: Spring Credits: 3

GAME-682

In this course students utilize principles of animation in 3D art to create 3D characters and bring them to life within 3D games, films, and other productions. Through a series of character modeling and animation projects, students learn not only professional-level animation software, but also the workflow for 3D character creation and animation. 

Prerequisite: GAME-612
Offered: Fall Credits:

GAME-690

Permission required from an instructor and program director. 

Credits: 1-6 

GAME-691

Permission required from an instructor and program director. 

Credits: 1-6