Students interested in studying game design have a variety of program options in Massachusetts. Though few degree programs specifically in game design are available in the state, students can enroll in related programs, like computer science, interactive media, or animation, that offer courses or concentrations in game design. Most programs lead to bachelor’s degrees, although at least one associate’s degree program is also available.
Some programs blend technical training with artistic studies, while others focus entirely on the technical side of game development and programming. Practical learning opportunities such as internships, game development projects, and research programs, are part of the curriculum. Some schools offer students the opportunity to participate in yearly gaming conferences. Following are profiles of the six private non-profit and two public institutions offering these programs, and a table with essential school and program facts.
Worcester’s Becker College offers a bachelor’s degree program in interactive media design with concentrations in game design and in game development and programming. These programs combine the college’s liberal arts focus with detailed training in video game design elements and programming skills. The college’s video game design program was ranked among the top 10 in 2016 by The Princeton Review. The college is also home to the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute, a statewide center that combines digital game industry, academia and public interests.
Boston University, about 2½ miles from downtown Boston, offers game design training as part of its bachelor’s degree program in computer science, which has a concentration in computer graphics, games and animation. Gaming students often participate in BUILDS, a student-run research lab (or ‘hackerspace’) offering technical resources 24 hours a day. Research done by the computer science department has earned international recognition for its impact and quality.
Boston’s Emerson College offers a Bachelor of Arts in Animation and Motion Media and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation and Motion Media. These programs cover a range of studies, including digital 2D animation, motion graphics, 3D modeling, visual effects and compositing techniques. The university is one of six Boston-area schools participating in The Professional Arts Consortium, which allows students interested in visual and performing arts to expand their training through inter-institutional courses and cross-registration privileges.
Fitchburg State University
The bachelor’s degree program in game design at Fitchburg State University in Fitchburg trains students to develop the skills needed to plan and design interactive gameplay. Areas of study include game development and design, computer programming, game studies, 3D modeling, art and visual design, level design and more. Students may seek practicums, internships and other partnership opportunities, which include working with the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute.
Lesley University in Cambridge offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation and Motion Media through its College of Art and Design. The program offers training in both physical and digital animation, which includes digital computer graphic image characters and interactive games. It covers subjects such as motion graphics, gaming art, storyboarding and special effects. The game production course examines the entire game-building process, and students are given the opportunity to build a 3D, first-person adventure game. The university provides a state-of-the-art computer lab.
Montserrat College of Art
Beverly’s Montserrat College of Art awards a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation and Interactive Media. This 120-credit program focuses on fine art fundamentals and visual problem solving. Courses include 3D game development, sound and image, life drawing, 2D animation and interactive design. A capstone project is required during the senior year.
Mount Ida College
Mount Ida College in Newton offers a bachelor’s degree program in game art and animation. Students gain the various technical, visual and conceptual skills needed to create 3D video games. A capstone project is required in the senior year that focuses on a sub-specialty, such as modeling, texturing, character animation, technical art or special effects. The program requires foundation courses in art, graphic design and humanities.
Boston’s Northeastern University offers three bachelor’s degree programs that combine game design with either digital arts, graphic design or computer science studies. These interdisciplinary programs allow students to focus on specific game design elements. The university has several facilities dedicated to its creative industries programs. The Game User Experience and Design Research Lab allows students to conduct multidisciplinary research on interactive media and game design.